The 87th Annual Academy Awards are already here! This Sunday, Feb. 22, Hollywood’s elite will be walking into the Dolby Theatre with high hopes for a win and taking home an Oscar. This year’s nominees feature an extraordinarily long list of beloved actors who starred in fan favorites like Birdman and Boyhood.
Best Picture Nominees
Photo Credit: IMDB
American Sniper – Bradley Cooper stars in the moving film directed by Clint Eastwood based on the life of former U.S. sniper Chris Kyle. Kyle was murdered two years ago at a shooting range where a former veteran took the life of Kyle and Chad Littlefield. The murder trial for Eddie Ray Routh began last week.
Birdman – Michael Keaton stars in a dark and quirky movie about an actor who is washed up and trying to make it on Broadway. The film is edited to be one long moving shot, which is fun to watch out for if you haven’t seen it! The cast is stacked with A-listers like Emma Stone, Zach Galifanakis, Amy Ryan, Naomi Watts, and Edward Norton who also stars in The Imitation Game.
Boyhood – Originally titled 12 Years, Boyhood is a twelve-year project written and directed by Richard Linklater. Patricia Arquette won a Golden Globe for her performance in the film. Ethan Hawke, Lorelei Linklater and Ellar Coltrane were also lead actors for the film which began filming in 2002. Predictions suggest that the “Best Picture” win will be a close race between Birdman and Boyhood.
The Grand Budapest Hotel – The comedy was written and directed by Wes Anderson. Ralph Fiennes plays a concierge who fights to prove his innocence after being framed for murder. Anderson is also up to win a "Best Director" award for the film.
The Imitation Game – Like many of this year’s nominees, The Imitation Game is based on true events during World War II when British cryptanalyst, Alan Turing, was a leading force in solving the Enigma code to save the fate of Britain. He was later prosecuted for his homosexuality. Keira Knightley, who also starred in this year’s Begin Again, plays a graduate student longing to work with the genius Turing. You can expect to see Benedict on the red carpet with new wife Sophie Hunter who is pregnant. Keira Knightley will also be walking the carpet pregnant with her husband James Righton.
Selma – Another historically fact-based film, Selma stars British actors David Oyelowo as Mart Luther King Jr. and Tom Wilkinson as President Lyndon Johnson. The rapper Common and talk show queen Oprah Winfrey star in the film as well. Although the film is not expected to win big on Sunday, the featured song "Glory," sung by Common and John Legend, is a likely performance of the night.
The Theory of Everything – Based on the true story of astrophysicist Stephen Hawking, The Theory of Everything is a touching film for all ages. Eddie Redmayne beautifully portrays the ALS-stricken genius who fights to hold onto his knowledge as his body deteriorates. Felicity Jones plays Hawking’s former wife Jane Wilde. The film is not expected to win “Best Picture"; however, Redmayne is in the lead for “Best Actor in a Leading Role,” which makes sense once you see his onscreen magic. Redmayne already took home the award for “Best Actor” at the Golden Globes where he thanked his new wife, Hannah Bagshawe.
Whiplash – J.K. Simmons who usually stars in light and quirky comedies, pushes the boundaries in this musical drama film. Andrew Neiman, played by Miles Teller, is a first-year jazz student at Shaffer Conservatory in New York. J.K. Simmons plays the intensely dedicated music teacher Terence Fletcher (Simmons), who uses unpleasant tactics to see that his students succeed. Simmons took home “Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture” at the Golden Globes this year.
Actress in a Leading Role
Photo Credit: PR Photos
Marion Cotillard as Sandra Bya in Two Days, One Night – If won, this will be Cotillard’s second Academy Award. She first won for her role in the 2007 film La Vie en rose. Cotillard is a French native who often stars in romanticized films. She will likely be walking the red carpet with French actor and director Guillaume Canet – the two have been dating for eight years and share one son.
Reese Witherspoon as Cheryl Strayed in Wild – When Witherspoon began her production company Pacific Standard, the first two films she wanted to produce were Wild and Gone Girl (yes, Reese produced it). Witherspoon originally didn’t want to play the lead role but soon realized she was the best fit to play the role of Cheryl Strayed. Witherspoon and Strayed have been good friends since the film. This is Witherspoon’s second Oscar nod. She took home the award for “Best Actress” for 2006’s Walk the Line.
Rosamund Pike as Amy Dunne in Gone Girl – Rosamund Pike is keeping the British presence alive at the awards this year. She’ll likely look marvelous on the red carpet, making an appearance after giving birth to her second son just two months ago. Her first born, Solo, was born in 2012 with partner Robie Uniacke. Pike's first film was in 2002 when she played Miranda Frost in Die Another Day.
Julianne Moore as Alice Howland in Still Alice – This is Moore’s fifth nomination for an Oscar. Though she hasn’t won yet, the odds are in her favor for this year. Moore plays a middle-aged professor who is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease at a considerably young age. She stars alongside Alec Baldwin, Kristen Stewart and Kate Bosworth in the powerful film, which is also a true story.
Felicity Jones as Jane Wilde in Theory of Everything – At only 31 years old, Jones is the youngest nominee. She’s also British, like many other nominees of the night! Her performance as Jane Wilde Hawking has landed her with nearly a dozen nominees this award season. She won’t be done after this, either! Jones, so far, has two more movies to be released this year and three more in 2016.
Actor in a Leading Role
Photo Credit: PR Photos
Steve Carell as John E. du Pont in Foxcatcher – This is Carell’s first ever Oscar nomination for his most powerful performance yet. Carell was unrecognizable as a multimillionaire from the E.I. du Pont family. A true story from the early '90s, Bennett Miller directed the chilling film about Olympic winning wrestlers and brothers Dave (Mark Ruffalo) and Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum). The real Mark Schultz, who originally admired the film, took to Twitter after the release of the movie to say how much he hated the film and Bennett Miller. He later took down the tweets.
Bradley Cooper as Chris Kyle in American Sniper – With 160 confirmed kills, Navy Seal Chris Kyle is the deadliest sniper in U.S. History. In order to prepare for the role as Kyle, Cooper gained nearly 40 pounds, was trained by a speech professional to perfect his southern accent, and he spoke to Kyle once on the phone before he was fatally shot just one week later.
Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing in The Imitation Game – Benedict Cumberbatch has a full plate of celebrations this year. He announced his engagement to Sophie Hunter a week before she announced she was pregnant. And over Valentine’s Day weekend, the two were married in a romantic ceremony. Now, as the Oscars are approaching, the British star is celebrating his acclaimed role as Alan Turing.
Michael Keaton as Riggan Thomas in Birdman – Birdman took home the award for “Best Motion Picture” at the Golden Globes this year where Keaton gave a touching tribute to his son Sean for the support over the years. Keaton is expected to win on Sunday night.
Eddie Redmayne as Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything – Eddie Redmayne is the youngest Oscar nominee of the night (and probably the cutest next to Bradley Cooper.) Redmayne met Stephen Hawking before filming began and Redmayne’s transformation is truly incredibly and moving to watch. Either Redmayne or Keaton are expected to take home the statue for “Best Actor in a Leading Role.”