The Academy Awards

Who will win this year's biggest honors in the film industry?

The+Academy+Awards

Pawan Mirchandani, Staff Writer

Every year, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, also known as the “Oscar Academy,” stirs up conversation with its picks of the best films of the year. This year was no different, with several surprise nominations for movies, along with many ignored, or snubbed, performances. In either situation, millions across the world will be tuning in on February 22 to see the winners. Below is an overview of the nominations for the key categories.

The full nomination list can be found here: http://abcnews.go.com/Entertainment/2015-oscars-complete-list-nominees/story?id=28229482

Best Visual Effects

While the other four nominees (Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Guardians of the Galaxy, and X-Men: Days of Future Past) were visually striking with amazing visual effects, Interstellar rises above them all. This was a beautiful movie to watch. The practical effects team managed to redefine the perception of black holes while researching the topic for this movie. Interstellar will be the favorite for this award.

Best Animated Feature

The Golden Globe-winning How to Train Your Dragon 2 and the family hit Big Hero 6 were both expected to make it onto this list, but the other three picks were (pleasant) surprises. The little-seen (yet fantastically reviewed) Song of the Sea was a complete surprise to many. Another surprise nomination was the anime (Japanese animation) movie, The Tale of Princess Kaguya. While the mainstream audience may not have heard of this sweet film, those who really admire anime have been hopeful that this would gain an Oscar nod. The choice of stop-motion film The Boxtrolls was a strange one, not only because the movie itself only gained mixed reviews, but also because this meant The Lego Movie was not nominated, to the disappointment of many.

Best Supporting Actor

One surprise in the this category was Robert Duvall for his work in The Judge; however, this is not being talked about as much as the other four nominations. Both Ethan Hawke of Boyhood and Edward Norton of Birdman were expected to receive nominations. However, the Oscar will most likely be awarded to one of the following – Mark Ruffalo as a champion wrestler in Foxcatcher and J.K. Simmons as an abusive drum coach in Whiplash.

Best Supporting Actress

A favorite of the Academy, Meryl Streep is nominated once again, this time for Into the Woods. As expected, Emma Stone of Birdman, Keira Knightley of The Imitation Game, and Patricia Arquette of Boyhood all received nominations, but there was one major surprise in the category. Laura Dern, for her work as the protagonist’s mother in Wild, rounded out this competitive field.

Best Adapted Screenplay

In this category, the presence of Gillian Flynn’s adaptation of her own book for Gone Girl was notably missing, and several called this a major snub. American Sniper, The Imitation Game, and The Theory of Everything are all strong contenders. Inherent Vice also managed to sneak its script into the category. Whiplash was also a very welcome surprise, with its script focusing on major character development.

Best Original Screenplay

In this category, there few notable snubs or surprises, except for possibly the exclusion of Interstellar, or maybe The Lego Movie. Nominations for the category include Foxcatcher, Boyhood, and Nightcrawler; however, the two main contenders are Birdman and The Grand Budapest Hotel.

Best Actress

Felicity Jones for The Theory of Everything and Julianne Moore for Still Alice were both expected to receive nominations, but Marion Cotillard’s nomination for Two Days, One Night was somewhat of an unexpected honor. Rounding out this field are the other two nominations, Reese Witherspoon in Wild and Rosamund Pike for Gone Girl. Snubs include Jennifer Aniston for Cake and Amy Adams in the biopic Big Eyes.

Best Actor

This category garnered major controversy due to the notable snubs, as well as the surprisingly fitting inclusion of Bradley Cooper for American Sniper. Along with Foxcatcher‘s Steve Carell, The Imitation Game‘s Benedict Cumberbatch, The Theory of Everything‘s relative newcomer Eddie Redmayne, and Michael Keaton of Birdman, the competition is incredibly fierce. However, the competition could have included David Oyelowo for Selma, Ralph Fiennes for The Grand Budapest Hotel, and the chilling performance by Jake Gyllenhaal in Nightcrawler. These exclusions – particularly Gyllenhaal’s – were so disputed because each of these men gave some of the best performances of their careers.

Best Directing

All five nominations (Alejandro Gonzales Inarritu for Birdman, Richard Linklater for Boyhood, Morten Tyldum for The Imitation Game, Bennett Miller for Foxcatcher, and Wes Anderson for The Grand Budapest Hotel) were deserving and undisputed. However, once again, audiences focused on what did NOT show up. Ava DuVernay was seen as a likely nomination, but her movie Selma was excluded once again, this time from the director’s circle. Historically, women have struggled to receive nominations in this category.

Best Picture

After decades of limiting this category to five nominees, the Academy now has the opportunity to honor anywhere between five and ten films. This year, eight films were nominated – American Sniper, Selma, Whiplash, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Imitation Game, Birdman, Boyhood, and The Theory of Everything. Unlike other years, there does not appear to be a clear front-runner. Will the Academy honor Selma after snubbing the film in other categories? Will American Sniper overcome the media scrutiny it has received for its portrayal of the war in Iraq? Viewers around the world will have to wait until February 22 to get the answers.