“Birdman” and “The Grand Budapest Hotel” led the list of the 87th annual Academy Award nominations announced Thursday morning, with nine nominations apiece. “The Imitation Game” scored eight; two extraordinarily contrasting portraits of Texans, “American Sniper” and “Boyhood,” followed with six Oscar nominations each.
The snubs? “Life Itself,” Steve James’ widely praised documentary on the life and career of film critic Roger Ebert, went un-nominated, though another Chicago-derived project, “Finding Vivian Maier,” received a documentary nomination. “The Lego Movie” got blanked in the feature animation category.
The 11th-hour ascendancy of “American Sniper,” directed by an un-nominated Clint Eastwood, is the real story here. Critics have been massively divided on the account of the Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle, played by Bradley Cooper, who scored a nomination. But it has found champions of all political and ideological persuasions .
Cooper’s fellow actor nominees: Steve Carell in “Foxcatcher”; Benedict Cumberbatch in “The Imitation Game”; Michael Keaton in “Birdman”; and Eddie Redmayne in “The Theory of Everything.” Keaton’s the likely front runner.
The nominated actresses: Marion Cotillard in “Two Days, One Night”; Felicity Jones, “The Theory of Everything”; Julianne Moore, “Still Alice”; Rosamund Pike, “Gone Girl”; and Reese Witherspoon, “Wild.” This category’s tougher to call, though Moore may have the edge for her portrayal of an early-onset Alzheimer’s patient.
Pike’s nomination was the only one for director David Fincher’s steely version of the Gillian Flynn bestseller. At the very least a nomination in the adapted screenplay category had been predicted for Flynn.
This year's modestly sized but much-beloved favorites — "Boyhood," ''Birdman" — have been largely locked in place throughout much of the ever-expanding industrial complex of Hollywood's lengthy awards season, where statuette-hunting campaigns span months and are feverishly chewed over by Oscar prognosticators. As studios have focused more and more on easily marketed blockbusters, Oscar season increasingly exists apart from the regular business of the movies, in its own highfalutin, red-carpeted realm.
Ratings are on the rise. Last year's Oscars, hosted by Ellen DeGeneres, drew 43 million viewers, making it the most-watched entertainment telecast in a decade. "12 Years a Slave" took best picture. This year's ceremony on Feb. 22 will be hosted by Neil Patrick Harris.
Associated Press contributed to this report.