2015 Oscar Previews: Part 1

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There’s always a lot of talk leading up to the big day about who will win what awards. We try to make our predictions based on trends from the past, but we can’t help to be swayed by our own personal opinions. Some movies truly strike a chord with us, while others aren’t interesting at all. Furthermore, Oscar films are usually heavy in the drama department and therefore they aren’t always the easiest or most entertaining movies to watch.

That’s why we’re here. Here is your guide to the nominees of this year’s Academy Awards. We’ve compiled the following brief summaries, interesting facts, and critical reviews for all these films and people. The goal is to give you a solid background even if you haven’t been able to catch up with this year’s nominees. So read on, and then start planning your Oscar-related drinking game.


 

The Best Picture Nominees


American Sniper

american sniper

Directed by: Clint Eastwood

Starring: Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller

Story: Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle’s pinpoint accuracy saves countless lives on the battlefield and turns him into a legend. Back home to his wife and kids after four tours of duty, however, Chris finds that it is the war he can’t leave behind.

Biggest Awards Won so Far:
AFI Movie of the Year

Other Oscar Nominations:
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role
Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published
Best Achievement in Editing
Best Achievement in Sound Editing
Best Achievement in Sound Mixing

What Our Critic Said: (read our review here)

“American Sniper proves that Bradley Cooper is no fluke, and Clint Eastwood still has what it takes to be an influential film maker..”

Overall Critic Consensus:
Metacritic –47/100
IMDb – 7.6/10
Rotten Tomatoes – 72%
Cinelinx – 4.1/5

Interesting Facts: David O. Russell considered directing the film, and then Steven Spielberg before Eastwood.


Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

birdman

Directed by: Alejandro G. Iñárritu

Starring: Michael Keaton, Edward Norton, Emma Stone, Zach Galifianakis, Naomi Watts

Story: A washed up actor, who once played an iconic superhero, battles his ego and attempts to recover his family, his career and himself in the days leading up to the opening of a Broadway play.

Biggest Awards Won So Far:
Golden Globe – Best Performance by an Actor / Comedy or Musical
Golden Globe – Best Screenplay Motion Picture
SAG Award – Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
AFI Award Movie of the Year

Other Oscar Nominations:
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role
Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role
Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role
Best Achievement in Direction
Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen
Best Cinematography
Best Achievement in Sound Editing
Best Achievement in Sound Mixing

What Our Critic Said: (read our review here)

“It twists its way through familiar set-ups, yet finds its success by investigating those plot devices thoroughly enough that new, unpredictable results are uncovered.”

Overall Critic Consensus:
Metacritic –88/100
IMDb – 8.3/10
Rotten Tomatoes – 92%
Cinelinx – 4.8 / 5.0

Interesting Facts: The film was shot in less than a month, and editing only took 2 weeks.


Boyhood

boyhood

Directed by: Richard Linklater

Starring: Ellar Coltrane, Ethan Hawke, Patricia Arquette

Story: The life of a young man, Mason, from age 5 to age 18.

Biggest Awards Won So Far:
Golden Globes – Best Motion Picture / Drama
Golden Globes – Best Director / Motion Picture
Golden Globes – Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture
SAG Awards – Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role
AFI Movie of the Year

Other Oscar Nominations:
Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role
Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role
Best Achievement in Directing
Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen
Best Achievement in Editing

Overall Critic Consensus:
Metacritic –100/100
IMDb – 8.3/10
Rotten Tomatoes – 98%

Interesting Facts: Each year of Mason’s life is covered in an average of 14 minutes of screentime.


The Grand Budapest Hotel

grand budapest

Directed by: Wes Anderson

Starring: Ralph Finnes, Adrien Brody, Jeff Goldblum

Story: The adventures of Gustave H, a legendary concierge at a famous hotel from the fictional Republic of Zubrowka between the first and second World Wars, and Zero Moustafa, the lobby boy who becomes his most trusted friend.

Biggest Awards Won So Far:
Golden Globes – Best Motion Picture / Comedy or Musical

Other Oscar Nominations:
Best Achievement in Directing
Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen
Best Achievement in Cinematography
Best Achievement in Editing
Best Achievement in Production Design
Best Achievement in Costume Design
Best Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling
Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score

What Our Critic Said: (read our review here)

“The Grand Budapest Hotel is great because Anderson’s style has evolved to become more proficient at captivating his audience.”

Overall Critic Consensus:
Metacritic – 88/100
IMDb – 8.1/10
Rotten Tomatoes – 92%
Cinelinx – 4.7/5

Interesting Facts: Bill Murray’s character’s name can be read in Hungarian as “Mi van?” Which means; “What’s going on?”


The Imitation Game

imitation game

Directed by: Morten Tyldum

Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode, Mark Strong

Story: During World War II, mathematician Alan Turing tries to crack the enigma code with help from fellow mathematicians.

Biggest Awards Won So Far:
AFI Movie of the Year

Other Oscar Nominations:
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role
Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role
Best Achievement in Directing
Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published
Best Achievement in Editing
Best Achievement in Production Design
Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score

What Our Critic Said: (read our review here)

“Benedict Cumberbatch does a great job portraying Mr. Turing, and making him feel like a real person, not just a caricature from history.”

Overall Critic Consensus:
Metacritic – 72/100
IMDb – 8.2/10
Rotten Tomatoes – 90%
Cinelinx – 3.8/5

Interesting Facts: Mark Strong’s character, Stuart Menzies, is the basis for James Bond’s boss, M. Ian Flemming’s WWII espionage work made him aware of the man who ran MI6. 


Selma

selma

Directed by: Ava DuVernay

Starring: David Oyelowo, Carmen Ejogo, Tom Wilkinson, Oprah Winfrey

Story: A chronicle of Martin Luther King Jr.’s campaign to secure equal voting rights via an epic march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama in 1965.

Biggest Awards Won So Far:
Golden Globes – Best Original Song / Motion Picture
AFI Movie of the Year

Other Oscar Nominations:
Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Soundtrack

What Our Critic Said: (read our review here)

“I’m still waiting for the great Martin Luther King film.”

Overall Critic Consensus:
Metacritic – 89/100
IMDb – 7.7/10
Rotten Tomatoes – 99%
Cinelinx – 3.2/5

Interesting Facts: The film is being screened for free at the Selma Walton Theater in Selma, Alabama.


The Theory of Everything

cdn.indiewire.com

Directed by: James Marsh

Starring: Eddie Redmayne, Felicity Jones, Tom Prior

Story: The relationship between the famous physicist Stephen Hawking and his wife.

Biggest Awards Won So Far:
Golden Globes – Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture / Drama
Golden Globes – Best Original Score / Motion Picture
SAG Awards – Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role

Other Oscar Nominations:
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role
Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role
Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published
Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score

Overall Critic Consensus:
Metacritic – 72/100
IMDb – 7.8/10
Rotten Tomatoes – 80%

Interesting Facts:  In addition to his copyrighted voice, Steven Hawking, also lent the filmmakers his Medal of Freedom Medallion and his signed thesis to use as genuine props in the film.


 

Whiplash

whiplash1

Directed by: Damien Chazelle

Starring: Miles Teller, J.K. Simmons, Paul Reiser, Melissa Benoist

Story: A promising young drummer enrolls at a cut-throat music conservatory where his dreams of greatness are mentored by an instructor who will stop at nothing to realize a student’s potential.

Biggest Awards Won So Far:
Golden Globes – Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture
SAG Awards – Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role
AFI Movie of the Year

Other Oscar Nominations:
Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role
Best Writing Screenplay, Material Previously Produced or Published
Best Achievement in Editing
Best Achievement in Sound Mixing

What Our Critic Said: (read our review here)

“The film feels like Jazz. But this is the mean Jazz you rarely hear, it’s less lethargic and more aggressive. It’s got sax but it roars. It’s intense as hell, the competitions make you anxious, and the end will grind your teeth to the gums.”

Overall Critic Consensus:
Metacritic – 88/100
IMDb – 8.7/10
Rotten Tomatoes – 95%
Cinelinx – 5.0/5

Interesting Facts: The film is one of the lowest grossing movies ever to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture.


Check back tomorrow for Part 2 of our Oscar Preview.

For more Oscar-nominees, check out last year’s Oscars Previews here.