After months of speculation and predictions, the nominees for the 2015 Academy Awards are here! Birdman and The Grand Budapest Hotel lead in nominations — both receiving nine — while American Sniper surprises with six nominations, leaving Selma being recognized in only two main categories.
The list is a crucial precursor because the majority of films on the list end up getting nominated for the Academy Award. This year saw a number of front-runners on the list including “Boyhood,” “Birdman,” “Selma,” “Whiplash” and “Foxcatcher.” As expected, Boyhood took six nominations.
However, the list included a number of surprises. While “Unbroken” is expected to be nominated for the Best Picture, the movie has received underwhelming reviews and has not really broken into the critics’ prizes.
“American Sniper” also made the list after also receiving mixed reviews. The Clint Eastwood drama has also lacked wins at the critics’ prizes and will not open in wide release until next year.
“Into the Woods” was yet another surprise as the movie has not been seen by many audiences and is still under review embargo. Additionally, the film has not figured into the critics’ awards and has not really made any top 10 lists.
Another eye opener was “The Imitation Game.” The list is supposed to be for U.S. films only, and the Morten Tyldum directed biopic is technically a British film. While it qualified for the Indie Spirit Awards, the organization failed to nominate it because it was not really American. Additionally, the movie has not been the critical darling most expected and instead has been shut out in almost every critics’ group.
The inclusion of this film also raises a question as to why “The Theory of Everything,” which is also vying for Best Picture was not included. Is one more British than the other? Or was the marketing push not as strong for “The Theory of Everything?”
“Interstellar” was also a huge surprise given the mixed critical response and the lack of awards buzz it has obtained in the past few weeks since its release. In the past few years, AFI has selected at least one big blockbuster film on their list. Last year, the organization included “Gravity,” which was nominated for Best Picture, and in 2012 “The Dark Knight Rises” made the list, but was not nominated for any major award. “Interstellar” was once considered a Best Picture front-runner, but unless the movie obtains Golden Globe and Critics Choice nominations, the movie is still a question mark in terms of awards.
The last major surprise was “Nightcrawler.” At one point in the race, the film was considered a dark horse because it was a genre film that did not suit the Academy’s preferences. However, as of late, the movie has been getting a number of nominations and has had a strong box office.
That being said, the AFI does not always get it right, and last year it omitted “Dallas Buyers Club,” which eventually was nominated for the Oscars. In the past few years, the organization failed to honor Best Picture nominees “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” “Avatar,” “District 9” and “The Blind Side.” Because AFI only awards American films, the lists have also failed to include nominees “Philomena,” “Atonement” and “An Education.”
This year, the organization failed to recognize a number of American films including the end of the year film “A Most Violent Year,” the critically acclaimed and box office hit “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” Reese Witherspoon’s “Wild,” and “Gone Girl.” “Inherent Vice,” “Top Five” and “Kill the Messenger” were also snubbed from the list.