Alejandro González Iñárritu’s “Birdman” and Wes Anderson’s “The Grand Budapest Hotel” each picked up nine Oscar nominations Thursday morning, with “The Imitation Game” scoring eight. Clint Eastwood’s “American Sniper” and Austin favorite Richard Linklater’s “Boyhood” had six each. Coming off its Golden Globe win for best motion picture drama, “Boyhood” is considered the frontrunner for the best picture Oscar.
The other best picture nominees are “American Sniper,” “Birdman,” “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” “The Imitation Game,” “The Theory of Everything,” “Selma” and “Whiplash.”
In addition to best picture, “Boyhood” picked up nods for best director, best editing (for editor Sandra Adair), best supporting actor for Ethan Hawke, best supporting actress for Patricia Arquette and best original screenplay.
UT graduate and Houston native Wes Anderson’s “The Grand Budapest Hotel” picked up nods for best picture, director, cinematography, costume design, editing, makeup/hairstyling, original score, production design and original screenplay.
That means Linklater and Anderson are direct competitors for director and screenplay, and their films are direct competitors for best picture and editing.
Oscar watchers were surprised by a few of the nominations, or lack thereof. While “Selma” received a best picture nod, its director, Ava DuVernay, an African-American woman, did not. Nor did it receive any nominations for acting, screenplay or any technical awards, though it did pick up a nod for best original song (“Glory, written by Common and John Legend).
Also snubbed was “The Lego Movie” in the best animated feature category, a film that was widely acclaimed as one of the best animated films of the past few years.
Both “Boyhood” and “Grand Budapest Hotel” were big parts of South by Southwest 2014; Linklater interviewed Anderson and hosted a Q and A with him after the latter screened.
Thursday’s nominees, in which all 20 nominated actors are white, was not a diverse bunch. Angelina Jolie, once pegged as a possible best director nominee, also failed to crack a historical male category. Her World War II survival tale “Unbroken” landed three nods, including a 12th nomination for cinematographer Roger Deakins.
Marion Cotillard for the French-language “Two Days, One Night” was the surprise nominee for best actress. She was joined by Felicity Jones (“The Theory of Everything”), Julianne Moore (“Still Alice”), Rosamund Pike (“Gone Girl”) and Reese Witherspoon (“Wild”). That left Jennifer Aniston’s pained and grieving performance in “Cake” on the outside.
The eight best picture nominees left out two wild cards that might have added a dose of darkness to the category: the creepy Jake Gyllenhaal thriller “Nightcrawler” and the tragic wrestling drama “Foxcatcher.” In the three previous years since the category was expanded (anywhere between five and 10 film may be nominated), there were nine movies contending for best picture.
Big box-office hits were also scarce. Christopher Nolan’s sci-fi epic “Interstellar” was restricted to five nominations in technical categories: visual effects, sound mixing, sound editing, score and production design.
This year’s smaller sized but much-beloved favorites — “Boyhood,” ”Birdman” — have been largely locked in as frontrunners throughout much of the ever-expanding industrial complex of Hollywood’s lengthy awards season. 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, though, 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.
The nominees for best foreign language film are “Ida” (Poland), “Leviathan” (Russia), “Tangerines” (Estonia), “Timbuktu” (Mauritania) and “Wild Tales” (Argentina).
Best documentary nods went to “CitizenFour,” “Finding Vivian Maier,” “Last Days in Vietnam,” “The Salt of the Earth” and “Virunga.” The last gave Netflix its second Oscar nomination. (It last year released the nominated documentary “The Square.”) Left out was the Roger Ebert documentary “Life Itself.”