Originally Published: January 15, 2015 6:31 a.m.
Two extravagant comedies, "Birdman" and "The Grand Budapest Hotel," tied for the most Oscar nominations this morning with nine nods each, including best picture.
They were joined in best-picture nominations by "Boyhood," 'Whiplash," 'The Theory of Everything," 'The Imitation Game," 'American Sniper" and "Selma." Nominations for the 87th annual Academy Awards were announced from Beverly Hills, where they were broadcast and streamed live.
"The Imitation Game" trailed close behind with eight nominations. Clint Eastwood's Navy SEAL drama "American Sniper" did especially well, landing six nods including best actor for Bradley Cooper.
Also with six nominations was Richard Linklater's coming-of-age epic "Boyhood," which remains the best-picture favorite. On Sunday, it won best drama at the Golden Globes.
But Wes Anderson's old Europe caper "The Grand Budapest Hotel," which also won best comedy or musical at the Globes, has emerged as the most unexpected awards heavyweight. With $59.1 million at the North American box office (opening all the way back in March), it's also the most money-making best-picture entry. That, however, is likely to change soon after "American Sniper" expands nationwide this weekend.
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.
The nominees for best actor are: Cooper, Steve Carell ("Foxcatcher"), Benedict Cumberbatch ("The Imitation Game"), Michael Keaton ("Birdman") and Eddie Redmayne. David Oweloyo, who stars as Martin Luther King Jr. in "Selma," was left out.
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").
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.