The Oscars start at 4 p.m. PST Feb. 22, and one of eight films will earn the title Best Picture.
American Sniper is the story of U.S. military sniper Chris Kyle (played by Bradley Cooper), who must deal with the stress of his job and its toll on his home life. The film is based on Kyle’s book of the same name. Kyle was killed in 2013 by a fellow Iraq war veteran. Clint Eastwood directed the film.
In Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), Michael Keaton plays an actor who played a superhero named Birdman. He wants to be taken seriously, so he decides to produce a show on Broadway. The film is directed by Alejandro J. Iñàrritu, who also directed the 2006 film Babel.
Boyhood is written and directed by Richard Linklater. Starring Ellar Coltrane, Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke, the film follows a boy named Mason from the time he is 5 until he is 18. Linklater is best known for Before Sunrise and its sequels, which also star Hawke. Boyhood won the Golden Globe for Best Drama.
Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel follows the adventures of concierge Gustave H, played by Ralph Fiennes, in the fictional Republic of Zubrowka. The cast includes F. Murray Abraham, Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Tilda Swinton, Jeff Goldblum, Willem Dafoe, and a host of others. The film won the Golden Globe for Best Musical or Comedy.
The Imitation Game, starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley, tells the story of Alan Turing, a British code breaker during World War II who must hide his homosexuality. Morten Tyldum directed the film.
Selma offers a look at the life of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., played by David Oyelowo, focusing on the movement’s march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, in 1965. The film was directed by Ava DuVernay, who won Best Director at the Sundance Film Festival in 2012 for Middle of Nowhere. She was the first African American woman to receive the award. Both DuVernay and Oyelowo were nominated for Golden Globe awards, but did not receive Oscar nominations.
The Theory of Everything explores the relationship between Cambridge physicist Stephen Hawking and his wife, Jane Hawking. The film is based on her book, Traveling to Infinity: My Life With Stephen. Eddie Redmayne plays Stephen, and Felicity Jones plays Jane. It was directed by James Marsh, who is best known for Man on Wire and Project Nim.
Finally, Whiplash is a psychological thriller that follows 19-year-old drummer Andrew, played by Miles Teller, and his relationship with his verbally abusive professor, Terence Fletcher, played by J.K. Simmons. It was written and directed by Damien Chazelle.