Even though the official nominees for the 2015 Academy Awards won’t be announced until January 15, there are a few titles that managed to generate Oscar buzz from early on. With touching stories, great scripts, and fearsome directing, any of the features below could easily snag a nomination in the Best Picture category. No worries – if you’ve missed some, there’s still time to catch up.
Directed by: Richard Linklater
Starring: Ellar Coltrane, Ethan Hawke, Patricia Arquette
This movie took 12 years in the making, but the end result was worth the long wait. Boyhood tells the story of Mason, who we follow from ages 5 to 18. If the Academy neglects to vote it onto the 2015 Oscar ballot, it would be one of the biggest snubs in history. It’s pure magic; and a true delight for any movie enthusiast out there.
Directed by: Alejandro González Iñárritu
Starring: Michael Keaton, Emma Stone, Zach Galifianakis, Edward Norton, Naomi Watts
Brilliant performances and excellent storytelling make for one for the most entertaining movies of 2014. Keaton will surely earn a nomination for Best Actor, and I’m positive that Birdman won’t be overlooked by Academy voters. Hilarious at times, but not afraid to showcase its dramatic edge, this movie is essentially a celebration of cinema. It’s a definite must-see. Add it to your watchlist immediately.
The Imitation Game
Directed by: Morten Tyldum
Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Matthew Goode, Keira Knightley, Mark Strong, Rory Kinnear
Now, I haven’t seen this movie yet, but since everything that Cumberbatch touches turns into gold, I’m sure the biopic will enter the competition for Best Picture (and maybe even earn the British actor a statue for Best Actor). Critics praised the protagonist’s performance, and called The Imitation Game powerful and complex. All in all, a fascinating story I’m dying to watch.
Directed by: Ava DuVernay
Starring: David Oyelowo, Tom Wilkinson, Carmen Ejogo, André Holland, Omar J. Dorsey, Oprah Winfrey
When it comes to Oscar buzz, Selma is straddling the line of the critical darling. It became a late-breaking contender after its release date was set for December 25. The movie follows the story of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s historic struggle to secure voting rights for everyone. A dangerous and terrifying campaign that culminated with the march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, and led to President Lyndon B. Johnson signing the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The majority of critics also predict that DuVernay will earn a spot in the race for Best Director, a category that’s shaping up to be extremely competitive this year.
The Theory of Everything
Directed by: James Marsh
Starring: Eddie Redmayne, Felicity Jones
The Theory of Everything is heartfelt, moving, and very well-written. The movie gives viewers the opportunity to take a closer look at the relationship between the famous physicist Stephen Hawking and his wife, Jane. It received praise for its acting, direction, screenplay, cinematography, and musical score, so there’s no wonder it made it on our list. However, it’s ultimately a tale of a bittersweet love story, one that would likely stick with you for many months to come.
Directed by: Angelina Jolie
Starring: Jack O’Connell, Domhnall Gleeson, Garrett Hedlund, Finn Wittrock, John Magaro
Another movie set to be released on Christmas Day – and due to the Academy’s historic preference for war movies, one that will likely make it on the shortlist for Best Picture. It follows the extraordinary survival story of World War II hero Louis “Louie” Zamperini, a former Olympic track star. He survives a plane crash in the Pacific, spends 47 days drifting on a raft, and is then captured by the Japanese Navy. He is held in captivity, beaten, and mistreated for more than two years. Unbroken‘s early reviews are mixed, but I’m still positive that this epic drama will catch the Academy’s attention.
Directed by: Damien Chazelle
Starring: Miles Teller, J.K. Simmons, Melissa Benoist, Paul Reiser, Austin Stowell, Jayson Blair
Astounding. Electrifying. Exhilarating. Only a few of the words critics used to describe Whiplash, a surprisingly dark drama. If you’re a jazz fan, you’re going to love it. If you’re not a jazz fan, well… you’re still going to love it. It’s about life, talent, dreams, drive, inner demons – and who can’t relate to that? Overall, a smart, funny, entertaining feature; and a dynamic movie which will likely keep you on the edge of your seat.
Directed by: Bennett Miller
Starring: Channing Tatum, Steve Carell, Mark Ruffalo, Anthony Michael Hall, Sienna Miller, Vanessa Redgrave
I’ve always been a fan of Carell (almost unrecognizable here, if I may point that out) and Ruffalo, and they both manage to deliver strong and unforgettable performances yet again. However, the surprise came from Tatum, who really showcases his acting chops in Foxcatcher. The movie is grim, powerful, and thrilling. A riveting drama with high chances of leaving viewers shaken for days.
Into The Woods
Directed by: Rob Marshall
Starring: Meryl Streep, Anna Kendrick, Chris Pine, Emily Blunt, Johnny Depp
I’m not looking forward to this movie; I’m so excited that I’m actually actually counting down the days. Into the Woods is a modern twist on several of the beloved Brothers Grimm fairy tales, intertwining the plots of a few choice stories and exploring the consequences of the characters’ wishes and quests. If it will look half as good as its trailer, it will still be a masterpiece. December 25 can’t come any sooner.
A Most Violent Year
Directed by: J.C. Chandor
Starring: Jessica Chastain, Oscar Isaac, Albert Brooks, David Oyelowo, Catalina Sandino Moreno
A crime drama set to be released on December 31, the movie received positive reviews from early critics. A Most Violent Year centers on the life of an immigrant and his family trying to expand their business and capitalize on opportunities in the winter of 1981, as the rampant violence and corruption of the day drag them in. I don’t know about you, but I’m hooked.
Other possible guesses: Fury, Interstellar, American Sniper, Mr. Turner, Gone Girl.
The 87th Academy Awards ceremony will take take place on February 22, 2015, at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood.
Which other titles would you like to see on the list of contenders for next year’s Best Picture award? Sound off in the comments!