Entertainment & Arts

Oscars 2015: Best picture nominees

A look at the best picture nominees at the 87th Academy Awards.


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Media captionWatch a clip from Oscars 2015 Best Picture nominee, Birdman. Courtesy 20th Century Fox

Director: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu

Cast includes: Michael Keaton, Emma Stone, Edward Norton, Naomi Watts, Lindsay Duncan, Andrea Riseborough

What's the story? In this black comedy, former movie superhero actor Riggan Thomson (Keaton) hopes to revive his washed up career by putting on Broadway play.

Fact: Using some clever camerawork, the film looks as though it was shot in a single take.

What the critics say: "The director's surrealist portrait of modern times and the cult of celebrity is brilliant on so many levels that even the occasional downdraft can't keep Birdman from soaring." Betsey Sharkey, LA Times


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Media captionBradley Cooper in America Sniper, courtesy Warner Bros.

Director: Clint Eastwood

Cast includes: Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller

What's the story? Navy SEAL Chris Kyle (Cooper) is sent to Iraq where his pinpoint accuracy with a gun makes him the most lethal sniper in US military history, but his reputation also makes him a prime target behind enemy lines.

Fact: Rabat in Morocco doubled for Iraq, with members of the Moroccan army serving as extras in some scenes.

What the critics say: "Less a war movie than a western — the story of a lone gunslinger facing down his nemesis in a dusty, lawless place — it is blunt and effective, though also troubling." AO Scott, The New York Times


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Media captionWatch a clip from Boyhood, courtesy StudioCanal

Director: Richard Linklater

Cast includes: Ethan Hawke, Patricia Arquette, Ellar Coltrane, Lorelei Linklater

What's the story? Filmed over short periods from 2002 to 2013, this coming-of-age drama covers 12 years in the life of a family. At the centre is Mason (played by newcomer Coltrane), who with his sister Samantha takes the journey from childhood to adulthood.

Fact: For the role of Mason's older sister Sam, Linklater cast his then nine-year-old daughter Lorelei. He said: "She was at that age when she was singing and dancing and being extroverted and at that moment, she really wanted to do it. It was also a really practical choice because I at least had a little bit of control over her availability."

What the critics say: "Boyhood is not just a genuine epic, not just beautiful and moving, it looks like a classic already." David Sexton, London Evening Standard


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Media captionWatch a clip from The Grand Budapest Hotel, courtesy Fox Searchlight Pictures

Director: Wes Anderson

Cast includes: Ralph Fiennes, Tony Revolori, Saoirse Ronan, Bill Murray, Jude Law, Edward Norton, Owen Wilson, Willem Dafoe, Adrien Brody, Tilda Swinton, Jeff Goldblum, Harvey Keitel, Jason Schwartzman

What's the story? Gustave H (Fiennes), a concierge at a famous European hotel between the wars, and Zero Moustafa (Revolori), the lobby boy, become embroiled in an adventure involving a priceless Renaissance painting.

Fact: The film is shot in different aspect ratios to reflect the different periods of the story.

What the critics say: "Grand isn't good enough a word for this Budapest Hotel. Great is more like it." Richard Corliss, Time


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Media captionWatch a clip from The Imitation Game, courtesy StudioCanal

Director: Morten Tyldum

Cast includes: Benedict Cumberbatch, Matthew Goode, Keira Knightley, Mark Strong, Rory Kinnear, Charles Dance

What's the story? In this wartime drama, computer pioneer Alan Turing (Cumberbatch) and his team at Bletchley Park attempt to decipher Nazi messages to help end World War Two.

Fact: Filming locations included Bletchley Park, in Buckinghamshire, and Turing's former school, Sherborne, in Dorset.

What the critics say: "Its various riffs on codes, whether moral, sexual, societal or German, are plain to see rather than enigmatic or enlightening. Luckily it's all anchored in a storming performance from Cumberbatch: you'll be deciphering his work long after the credits roll." Dave Calhoun, Time Out


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Media captionWatch a clip from Oscars 2015 Best Picture nominee, Selma. Courtesy Pathe UK

Director: Ava DuVernay

Cast includes: David Oyelowo, Tom Wilkinson, Carmen Ejogo, Tim Roth, Oprah Winfrey

What's the story? Over three months in 1965, Martin Luther King Jr (Oyelowo) goes up against President Lyndon B Johnson (Wilkinson) and attempts to lead marches from Selma to Montgomery in Alabama on a quest for equal voting rights.

Fact: Selma was shot largely in the state of Alabama in many of the same locations where the momentous events of 1965 took place.

What the critics say: "Hollywood's definitive depiction of the 1960s American civil rights movement — as well as perhaps the most timely movie you'll see this year." Lou Lumenick, New York Post


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Media captionWatch a clip from The Theory of Everything, courtesy Universal Pictures

Director: James Marsh

Cast includes: Eddie Redmayne, Felicity Jones, Charlie Cox, Emily Watson, David Thewlis

What's the story? At Cambridge University in 1963, cosmology student Stephen Hawking (Redmayne) falls in love with arts undergraduate Jane Wilde (Jones), and is shortly afterwards diagnosed with motor neurone disease. The film - based on the memoir Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen, by Jane Hawking - is a portrait of a marriage shaped and tested by extremes of illness and academic success.

Fact: Hawking allowed the filmmakers to use his trademarked computerized voice to replace the synthetic version they had originally used.

What the critics say: "Despite its title, The Theory of Everything is less about astrophysics and more about the quantum mechanics of human relationships under pressure." Kate Muir, The Times


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Media captionWatch a clip from Oscars 2015 Best Picture nominee, Whiplash. Courtesy Sony Pictures

Director: Damien Chazelle

Cast includes: Miles Teller, JK Simmons, Melissa Benoist

What's the story? Young jazz drummer Andrew Neyman (Teller), a student at a New York music conservatory, aspires to be the best. He joins a school band led by music instructor Terence Fletcher infamous for his terrifying methods.

Fact: Like his character in the film, Miles Teller did actually play the drums until his hands bled.

What the critics say: "You don't have to be a jazz fan for Whiplash to zap you with its thrumming live-wire beat (although it doesn't hurt). If you can appreciate the sight of two totally dialed-in performers simmering until they boil over, that's enough." Chris Nashawaty, Entertainment Weekly

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