'Birdman,' 'Budapest' top Oscar nominations with 9 nods each

Ellar Coltrane is shown at age 6 in a scene from the film "Boyhood." The film was nominated for six Oscars, including best picture.

Associated Press

At the Academy Awards ceremony Sunday (Feb. 22), it's likely  "Boyhood" and "Birdman" will see the most results in major categories while the technical awards winners will probably be spread among two or three films.

BEST ACTOR

Nominees: Steve Carell (“Foxcatcher”), Bradley Cooper (“American Sniper”), Benedict Cumberbatch (“The Imitation Game”), Michael Keaton (“Birdman”) and Eddie Redmayne (“The Theory of Everything”).

This year had some excellent Best Actor nominees. All are worthy of winning the award in their own right but only two nominees are ahead of the race: Eddie Redmayne and Michael Keaton. The way the Academy likes to treat older actors makes me believe that Keaton has this award in the bag. Redmayne, however, delivered a truly unexpected performance as the theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking. He’s not a high profile name like Keaton who was wonderfully cast as an out-of-work actor whose only commercial role was in a superhero movie (“Batman” anybody?). I'd bet on Keaton. 

BEST ACTRESS

Nominees: Marion Cotillard ("Two Days, One Night"), Felicity Jones ("The Theory of Everything"), Julianne Moore ("Still Alice"), Rosamund Pike ("Gone Girl") and Reese Witherspoon ("Wild"). 

These Best Actress nominees are really tough. Usually there are one or two actresses who stand out every year. But if I had to pick one who had the most impact, it's Julianne Moore in "Still Alice." Moore's gripping performance as a 50-year-old woman living with early Alzheimer's disease is astounding to watch. It's a tough prediction to make but Moore is likely to come out ahead. 

BEST DIRECTOR

Nominees: Wes Anderson (“The Grand Budapest Hotel”), Alejandro González Iñárritu (“Birdman”), Richard Linklater (“Boyhood”), Bennett Miller (“Foxcatcher”) and Morten Tyldum (“The Imitation Game”).

The winner has to be Richard Linklater for “Boyhood.” The guy managed to cast and film the same group of actors for 12 years. It’s impressive, to say the least. It’s not the first time Linklater has been nominated for an Oscar, but it’s his first directing nomination. Directing a film for that long is no easy task, and putting it all together probably wasn’t any easier. But he still managed to create a cohesive and moving story worthy of winning Best Director.

BEST PICTURE

Nominees: “American Sniper,” “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance),” “Boyhood,” “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” “The Imitation Game,” “Selma,” “The Theory of Everything” and “Whiplash.”

If a certain movie was not released this year, I’d place my Best Picture bet on “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance).” But, alas, “Boyhood” is sure to walk away with the best award of the night. The film was a giant, creative undertaking the likes of which has never been done before. “Boyhood” managed to capture the growing pains of childhood that was both engaging and intriguing to watch. There is no film quite like it and there will likely never be another as effective as "Boyhood" was.

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