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Birdman and The Grand Budapest Hotel lead Oscar nominations (2015)

The Grand Budapest Hotel

Story by Jack Foley

ALEJANDRO G Inarritu’s Birdman and Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel (pictured) lead this year’s Oscars race with nine nominations apiece.

Both films are in the running for the coveted Best Picture prize, while both directors are also shortlisted in that category. Golden Globe winner Michael Keaton is also cited for his central performance in Birdman, although Ralph Fiennes missed out on a nomination for The Grand Budapest Hotel.

Leading the field going into the ceremony is by no means a guarantee of success, however, as both films face tough competition from an extremely talented field, which includes some notable British nominees among them.

Brit actors Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game), Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything), Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl), Felicity Jones (The Theory of Everything) and Keira Knightley (The Imitation Game) are all nominated.

Redmayne, who earlier this week took the best dramatic actor trophy at the Golden Globes, is shortlisted for his portrayal of Stephen Hawking, while Cumberbatch is for recognised for his portrayal of code-breaker Alan Turing.

Both are pitted against Steve Carell (for Foxcatcher), Bradley Cooper (for American Sniper) and Keaton (for the aforementioned Birdman).

Cooper, for his part, gained his third consecutive Oscar nomination in the best actor shortlist, for his portrayal of expert marksman Chris Kyle (the most lethal sniper in US military history) in Clint Eastwood’s biopic.

In doing so, he becomes the first actor to achieve this feat since Russell Crowe was nominated for The Insider, Gladiator and A Beautiful Mind at the start of the century. Crowe won for Gladiator in 2001.

Cooper’s previous nods came for Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle.

In the best actress category, Felicity Jones and Rosamund Pike are pitted against previous Oscar winners Reese Witherspoon, for Wild, Marion Cotillard (for Two Days, One Night) and the early favourite, Julianne Moore, who recently won the Golden Globe for her role in Still Alice.

Knightley, meanwhile, is shortlisted for best supporting actress and finds herself against Meryl Streep, who is nominated for her 19th acting Oscar for her portrayal of a witch in the Disney musical Into The Woods. Streep broke her own Academy Awards record by doing so.

Completing the line-up for best supporting actress are Patricia Arquette (for Boyhood), Laura Dern (Wild) and Emma Stone (Birdman).

The race for best picture, meanwhile, will be between eight movies: American Sniper, Birdman, Boyhood, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Imitation Game, Selma, The Theory of Everything and Whiplash.

The winers will be announced at a ceremony at Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre on February 22, 2015, to be hosted by television and film actor Neil Patrick Harris.

There were some notable omissions among the nominees. Civil rights drama Selma was expected to land a few nods among the acting categories, especially for Britain’s David Oyelowo. But it only landed two nods, including best picture, and was snubbed in the major acting stakes.

Man-of-the-moment Oscar Isaac also missed out for his terrific performance in A Most Violent Year, which had been tipped early on as a possible contender, while animated hit The LEGO Movie was a glaring and controversial (judging by the Twitter reaction afterwards) omission in the animation category.

This year’s nominations were announced in Hollywood on Thursday, January 15, by Alfonso Cuaron, who won best director for Gravity last year, alongside actor Chris Pine, Star Wars director JJ Abrams and Oscars boss Cheryl Boone Isaacs.

View the nominees in full