Listed below are the Best Picture nominees for the upcoming 2015 Oscars, which will be awarded Feb. 22 on ABC. More so than in past years, I find these titles easy to root for. None of these pictures are blockbusters. Up until they were honored with this nomination, one would have to scour the Internet to find a theater that would show these movies. (Trust me, I know!) These movies also have many up-and-coming actors, providing new, exciting faces to look for in the future. Lastly, these films feature diverse and deeply unique storylines. Whether about a quirky hotel or a jazz musician on the verge of a nervous breakdown, each story brings something of its own to this year’s Oscars.
The Imitation Game
Benedict Cumberbatch and Kiera Knightley star in The Imitation Game, an intense and interesting World War II movie. Here, Cumberbatch’s character, Alan Turingm is hired by the British government to decode Enigma, the Nazi’s unbreakable coding system. If decoded, the Allies could decipher all of the German attack plans. In other words, if Enigma was broken, Germany would fall. As the clock ticks over Turing and his team of geniuses, more and more soldiers are dying. Turing not only struggles under the weight of the Allied cause, but also to hide his homosexuality, which at the time was a severe crime in England.
JK Simmons and Miles Teller shock audiences with their heavy performances in Whiplash. Miles Teller plays an aspiring jazz drummer who is a first-year student at a prestigious music college. The immense pressure that Teller’s character places on himself to succeed is dwarfed by his teacher’s (Simmons) insane and violent method of pushing his students toward perfection.
Bradley Cooper stars in his third Oscar nominated role in the past three years. In what is said to be his best performance yet, Cooper plays Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, the most lethal sniper in American history. The story covers Chris Kyle through his tours in Iraq where he both terminated and saved an incredible amount of lives and follows him back to the US. At home, the protagonist struggles to be a good husband and father while dealing with the aftermath of being in war.
Michael Keaton, Edward Norton and Emma Stone star in Birdman, a movie about a former superhero actor. Michael Keaton plays Riggan Thompson, the actor who formerly played the iconic Birdman. Hoping to overcome his washed up, public perception, Thompson attempts to write and star in a play. To the dismay of those around him, these actions catch the public’s attention, but not in a positive way.
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Wes Anderson’s newest film, The Grand Budapest Hotel has received more applause from both critics and fans than any of his other widely acclaimed films. In the film, the concierge of a popular European lodge is accused of the murder of a rich elderly lady, who in her will, left a valuable painting for the concierge. With a combination of humor and intellect, this unique movie stands apart from the other darker themed Oscar contenders.
For a long time, filmmakers had stayed away from making a movie about Martin Luther King Jr. This changed when Ava DuVernay began to create the film, Selma. Staring The Butler’s David Oyelowo as MLK, it follows Dr. King’s march from Selma to Montgomery. Overall, it highlights the quest for equal voting rights.
The Theory of Everything
Eddie Redmayne plays Stephen Hawking in a moving film about strength, love and the quest for knowledge. A relatively new name, Felicity Jones, stuns audiences with her performance as the strong, but real Jane Hawking. The movie is based off Jane’s book, Traveling to Infinity.
For the first time in movie history, a film crew follows a cast for 12 years to create the ultimate coming of age drama. The film includes veteran actors such as Ethan Hawke, as well as up and comers like Ellar Coltrane. Coltrane, in fact, was only 6 when the movie began. As we near award season, the actor is now 20 years old.