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Birdman, Grand Budapest Hotel, top Oscar nods

DARK comedy “Birdman” and stylish crime caper “The Grand Budapest Hotel” topped the Oscars nominations list Thursday with nine each, firing the starting gun on the home stretch of Hollywood’s awards race.

In second place was World War II code-breaking thriller “The Imitation Game,” with eight nominations.  Clint Eastwood’s “American Sniper” and coming-of-age drama “Boyhood” each earned six nods. 

The five films were all shortlisted for best picture, along with US civil rights drama “Selma,” Stephen Hawking biopic “The Theory of Everything” and jazz drumming saga “Whiplash.” 

The golden statuettes will be handed out on February 22 at the Dolby Theatre in downtown Hollywood. 

For best actor, “Birdman” star Michael Keaton and Britain’s Eddie Redmayne (“The Theory of Everything”) — Golden Globes winners just a few days ago — are up against Steve Carell (“Foxcatcher”), Bradley Cooper (“American Sniper”) and Benedict Cumberbatch (“The Imitation Game”).

The best actress race includes two former Oscar winners — Marion Cotillard for “Two Days, One Night” and Reese Witherspoon (“Wild”).

They will compete against Globes winner Julianne Moore (“Still Alice”), along with two British actresses — Felicity Jones (“The Theory of Everything”) and Rosamund Pike (“Gone Girl”).

The makers of both “Birdman” and “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu and Wes Anderson, are both in the race for best director along with Richard Linklater for “Boyhood,” Bennett Miller for “Foxcatcher” and Morten Tyldum for “The Imitation Game.” 

The Oscar nominees — chosen by the 6,000-plus members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences — were revealed in a pre-dawn ceremony in Beverly Hills.

Voting for the 87th Oscars starts on February 6 and closes on February 17. 

– Wide-open race –

This year’s crop of hotly-tipped movies is heavy on true stories: several of the films on the Oscars best picture shortlist were based on real-life events. 

Among the historical figures depicted in those films are astrophysicist Hawking (“The Theory of Everything”), British mathematician Alan Turing (“The Imitation Game”) and Martin Luther King Jr. (“Selma”). 

The eagerly-awaited Oscars announcement came just four days after “Boyhood” emerged triumphant from the Golden Globes, winning best film and best director honors, along with a prize for best supporting actress Patricia Arquette, also an Oscar nominee. 

“Birdman” — about a washed-up film actor (Keaton) trying to revive his career on stage — and “The Theory of Everything,” about Hawking’s descent into disability, each took home two awards. 

The Globes — for which “Birdman” had led nominations with seven nods — produced a few surprises, which injected some drama into the race to the Oscars. 

“My first caution to Globes winners: don’t get over-confident,” said Variety awards editor Tim Gray, warning that the Globes are often a poor predictor of Oscars glory.

Possibly the biggest surprise of the Globes ceremony came when Anderson’s stylish crime caper “The Grand Budapest Hotel” took home the prize for best comedy/musical film over “Birdman.” 

“The ‘Grand Budapest’ triumph throws something of a curveball into the Oscar race,” wrote the Los Angeles Times. 

 



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