The 2015 Oscars will be held on Sunday, so you only have a few days to read everything you can about the Best Picture nominees American Sniper, Birdman, Boyhood, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Imitation Game, Selma, The Theory of Everything, and Whiplash. At Vulture, we've been covering these films all year long, and we've culled our archives to provide you with a dossier on each. (Our latest stories have been added to the top of each sub-section, as this post originally ran on January 15.) Peruse and enjoy.
The Oscar Best Picture Nominees As Pie Charts
"How much of The Grand Budapest Hotel is How I Met Your Mother? How much of Boyhood is mansplaining? And how much are all of the Best Picture nominees about Christ figures?"
Sienna Miller's Dreams: Talking to the Actress About Cabaret, Broadway Anxiety, and American Sniper
"'If you have a film where the opening scene is an American having to kill a child, it’s not pro-war.'"
Bill Maher Thinks the American Sniper Is More Like a 'Psychopath Patriot'
"'He's a psychopath patriot, and we love him.'"
American Sniper's Comics Homage Is Perfect — and Terrifying
"For better or worse, Frank Castle would be proud."
I Served in Iraq, and American Sniper Gets It Right. But It's Still Not the War Film We Need.
"If we saw Iraqis as humans, we’d have to learn how to live in a world far, far more complicated and painful than the difficult, painful one we currently live in."
5 Things American Sniper's Chris Kyle Allegedly Lied About
"He found chemical weapons in Iraq that came from France and Germany."
Here's Why American Sniper Used That Creepy Fake Plastic Baby
"Gimme the doll, kid."
American Sniper's Success Could Mess With Chris Kyle's Real-Life Murder Trial
"Eastwood's film will 'be an issue,' defense attorney J. Warren St. John said."
Clint Eastwood Turns American Sniper Into a Republican Platform Movie
"The people Kyle shoots always represent a 'savage, despicable evil,' and the physical and mental cost to other Americans just comes with the territory."
Oscar Films and the Prison of Historical Accuracy
"Clint Eastwood’s film, to give itself some narrative shape, invents a largely fictional cat-and-mouse game between Kyle and a Syrian sniper named Mustafa."
Birdman, Boyhood Dominate Critics' Choice Movie Awards
"Birdman stole the show with seven awards, while Boyhood stood up for the second most hardware with four."
Alejandro González Iñárritu Is Proud of His Oscar Nomination, But Also Very, Very Cold
"'I'm just a little tropical banana man.'"
Birdman Scores a Surprise Win at the Producers Guild Awards
"For the last seven years, the PGA winner has gone on to win Best Picture at the Oscars."
How Oscar Front-runner Birdman Suddenly Soared
"This very ostentatious movie spent most of awards season flying under the radar. The votes for it don't validate a canny campaign strategy or suggest some effectively executed turnaround."
Birdman Is the Very Definition of a Tour de Force
"Birdman is the sort of film that wins standing ovations from audiences, and they’re not unwarranted. How can you not be in awe of the sheer physical achievement, of the intricate choreography of the actors and the camera, of the gung ho performances? When it ends you go, 'Whew!' It’s a triumph of vacuous virtuosity."
The Toughest Scene I Wrote: Why the Birdman Writers Embraced Mediocrity
"The whole process of writing Birdman was tough and frightening and exhilarating. But the motel scene may have been the most challenging — a scene that was supposed to belong to a short story that inspired a play that is being performed in a film. (Don’t read it again, just go with us.)"
Emma Stone on Trying Not to Ruin Birdman
"'I totally I fucked up. That scene with Michael [Keaton] and Edward [Norton] on the stage where he’s like, That’s a fuck you! or whatever, and I come in and lead him around the corner, there was a time where I had to move at a certain speed around the corner because that’s where the stitch was, and Alejandro told me, You’re ruining the movie! He didn’t mean to, but he was like, You’re ruining the movie! You have to speed up! Or slow down.'"
The Real Comeback of the Fake Michael Keaton: Scenes From the Birdman Set
"'There were times in my life when I felt desperate, but it was never about this. It’s a fear-based industry, and if you buy into it, you’re pretty fucked.'"
Alejandro González Iñárritu on Why He Wanted Michael Keaton for Birdman
"'I always have considered Michael Keaton to be a phenomenal actor because he navigates drama and comedy. He has been the bad guy, the funny guy, and I needed somebody who can really navigate those two genres, and I think few actors can do that. What he did is extraordinarily difficult.'"
Oh My God, This 'Boyhood Meets World' Mash-Up Is Perfect
"Girl Meets World premiered 14 years after Boy Meets World's series finale in 2000 — just two more years than the 12-year Boyhood gap utilized by director Richard Linklater."
Ethan Hawke Is Helping His Boyhood Kids Through Oscar Season
"'I've spent 30 years training for how to handle this, and it's emotionally complex even for me.'"
Boyhood Takes Best Picture at the BAFTAs
"The film won Best Picture, along with Best Director for Richard Linklater and Best Supporting Actress for Patricia Arquette."
See a Boyhood Mother-and-Child Reunion
"The two got together at Arquette’s house in Malibu, where Coltrane has often stayed when he’s passing through L.A."
Richard Linklater's Momentous Boyhood Is an Experiment That Makes Time Visible
"I’m not saying Boyhood is the greatest film I’ve ever seen, but I’m thinking there’s my life before I saw it and my life now, and it’s different; I know movies can do something that just last week I didn’t. They can make time visible."
The Toughest Scene I Wrote: Richard Linklater on Boyhood's Saddest Moment
"If there was one scene that felt like it was looming over all those years, it was the good-bye scene."
Manhood: How Ethan Hawke Finally Grew Up
"His gifts have finally cohered with his triumphantly naturalist work in Boyhood."
Ethan Hawke's Real-Life Boyhood Graduation Gift Is the Most Wonderful
"Turns out Hawke gave his real-life daughter Maya the very same gift."
How Patricia Arquette Got Her Finest Role in Years With Boyhood
"[T]his just fell in my lap and I couldn't deny it. I had to go through this door."
Richard Linklater on Why Boyhood Isn't the Film You Think It Is
"[I]t was about getting in touch with my own memories, too — sometimes I remember the details around the event better than the event itself. I never really think of my first kiss much, I think of all the other fun things along the way."
Ethan Hawke on His 30-Year Career and Why It's Weird for Him to Watch Boyhood With His Kids
"The songs that my character plays are song that I wrote that my kids grew up with. It’s surreal to them. Their parents are split up too, and they go between us every other weekend. It was like a portrait of their lives."
Ellar Coltrane Spent 12 Years Acting for Richard Linklater. Now What?
"'This is the beginning of my life, and that movie is the fucking beacon of that. That was my life for the last 12 years. That’s over. And now, now what?'"
Sundance: Boyhood and Richard Linklater's 4,207-Day Shoot
"No fiction director has ever attempted such a long-lasting project, and if it had been anyone other than Linklater (who has also smartly chartered the passage of time in his years-spanning Before Sunrise trilogy), you can imagine how mawkish Boyhood might have turned out: Before the film, everyone I spoke to was already expecting to cry as this young boy’s life flashed before our eyes, his moments of childhood innocence slipping away from scene to scene. But Boyhood isn’t the film you’re expecting. It’s intimate and elusive, and the landmarks that usually turn up in most other coming-of-age stories are all but absent here."
Richard Linklater and Ethan Hawke Talk Boyhood, the Movie They Shot Over the Course of 12 Years
"'I think we're going to have another name. That's always been kind of a working title, but it's so much more than that. It's boyhood, it's parenthood, it's everything.'"
Boardwalk Empire's Patricia Arquette on Playing Sally Wheet and Punching Nucky As Foreplay
"'The strange thing is, [Boyhood is] not really something I want to share with the world now. Of course I want it to come out, but a part of me is like, I don't want to share it with the world. It's such a cool, secret, little part of my life, my artistic life, and then you give it to the world, and they get to decide what they think about it, and it becomes their thing. Right now, it's our thing.'"
Watching Boyhood Made Me Wish I'd Grown Up a Boy
"Boy envy hit me pretty early on in Richard Linklater’s Boyhood. It was during a throwaway moment between the main character, Mason, and his sister, Samantha, as they walk around their suburban Texas neighborhood. Mason is on his bike, flanked by two friends, while Samantha trails quietly behind on foot, giggling occasionally with her own friends."
THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL
How Wes Anderson Cast The Grand Budapest Hotel
"You know, Willem and Tilda Swinton are both people who love to act, who just love to do this. But they aren’t really just actors. They’re more performance artists."
Edelstein: Wes Anderson Moves Out of the Dollhouse With The Grand Budapest Hotel
"Wes Anderson’s latest cinematic styling is The Grand Budapest Hotel, an exquisitely calibrated, deadpan-comic miniature that expands in the mind and becomes richer and more tragic."
How Wes Anderson's Cinematographer Shot These 9 Great Scenes
"Could [Grand Budapest] have been Anderson's most pastel confection yet? In a shot like this, where Zero (Tony Revolori) and Agatha (Saoirse Ronan) embrace in a car filled with pastry boxes, 'There was so much pink in there, between the boxes and skin tones, that I tried to use bounce cards and white light so that their skin tones wouldn't be overly red.'"
There [Was] a Grand Budapest Hotel Cruise
"It was last year, aboard the Queen Mary 2."
The Grand Budapest Hotel Is Wes Anderson's Highest-Grossing Film Ever
"It surpassed the $100 million mark, and is trailed by The Royal Tenenbaums."
Where Does The Grand Budapest Hotel Take Place? We'll Show You
"The Grand Budapest Hotel doesn't actually take place in Budapest; rather, it's set in Zubrowka, a fictional European country dreamed up by Wes Anderson."
Wes Anderson on The Grand Budapest Hotel, Reimagined Nazis, and His Sock Drawer
"'I like the idea of trying to create a world for the characters to live in, and usually it's sort of an invented place. And that's just something you do in the movies. I don't know if there is a correlation to real life. I'm not even sure if I have a sock drawer!'"
Wes Anderson Made a Fully Animated Version of The Grand Budapest Hotel
"It included 'all the cuts as they pretty much I think wound up to be,'" according to Jeff Goldblum.
The Grand Budapest Hotel Cast Had Its Own Version of Sleepaway Camp
"The cast and crew fittingly forwent trailers for communal residence in a small hotel in the East German town of Görlitz."
Wes Anderson, Bill Murray, and Tilda Swinton Explain The Grand Budapest Hotel
"One reporter was horrified when he noticed that Budapest featured no pajamas– a signature article of clothing in most Anderson films."
THE IMITATION GAME
Cumberbatch's Captivating Strangeness Elevates The Imitation Game
"Cumberbatch is the one freaky touch in an otherwise conventional movie, but the conventions in this case work handsomely."
The Toughest Scene I Wrote: Why The Imitation Game Cut a Shocking Death
"We always knew that we didn't want to show Alan Turing in the act of suicide — it was our feeling that would tip over into melodrama too quickly and seem over-the-top."
Oscar Films and the Prison of Historical Accuracy
"A truly authentic portrait of the grueling and incredibly tedious work done by Turing probably wouldn’t have made for good cinema."
The Wit and Wisdom of Benedict Cumberbatch
"'I love talking about The Imitation Game, and three-minute slots is a really ugly way to do it. I’m shit at that. I would never be good at Twitter.'"
Benedict Cumberbatch's Alan Turing Is Basically Just Sheldon From The Big Bang Theory
"This doesn't necessarily mean that Cumberbatch's performance is any less laudable."
Benedict and the Cumberbitches: What Fame Looks Like From Inside a Meme
"He also takes issue with people asking him where Turing and Sherlock fall on the autism spectrum. 'I think they are both utterly conditioned by their circumstance,' he says. With Turing especially, 'I think it’s a really quick shorthand to go ‘autistic, Asperger’s, learning difficulties, slightly dyslexic,' or some kind of devaluing way of labeling him."
Keira Knightley on Laggies, Imitation Game, and Hating High School
"'[S]he was one of the people that broke the [Nazi] Enigma code, she was briefly engaged to Alan Turing — that’s all true. But how she got to Bletchley [Park, and was convinced to work on this top-secret code breaking project], that’s not true, and kind of the whole thing with the parents [being strict and wanting her to come back home] isn’t true.'"
Selma Was Robbed, and Other Unforgivable Oscar Crimes
"Selma ... got what I can only call a 'token' Best Picture nod."
Selma: Where Did Its Oscar Campaign Go Wrong?
"The main thing that worked against Selma is timing."
Patton Oswalt on Selma's Oscar Snub and the Racist Backlash to the New Star Wars Trailer
"So it’s a best movie nominee, and yet none of the performances, none of the writing, none of the directing, none of the cinematography — none of them did an Oscar-worthy job, but the movie is Oscar-worthy. That doesn’t make sense."
Ava DuVernay Knew She Wasn't Going to Be Nominated for an Oscar
"'It's math. … I know not one person in my branch.'"
The Producer of Django Unchained Has Some Thoughts on Hollywood's Race Problems
"'It would be great if the phrase 'black film' wasn't just used when a movie makes less than $100 million.'"
Oprah Winfrey and Selma Cast Mates Marched in Alabama for MLK Day
"'We stand here today in honor of you all, in honor of them, not just in memory of them, not just in memory of Martin Luther King, or in memory of Selma and what happened on the bridge.'"
Academy President Calls for More Diversity After Selma Snubs
"'Maybe this year is more just about let's kick it in even more.'"
Spike Lee on Selma Oscar Snubs: 'F*ck 'Em'
"'Nobody's talking about motherfuckin' Driving Miss Daisy.'"
Wendell Pierce on Selma Snub: 'The People's Reaction Speaks for Itself'
"'To me, it's what the reaction would have been had Marlon Brando not been nominated for Godfather.'"
Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs on Selma Snubs, Lack of Diversity
"'It's a terrific motion picture.'"
MLK Drama Selma Shows the Grunt Work That Went Into Making History
"The film is about long-lived injustice, short-lived politics, and how to make the latter serve the former. It’s sensational in the open air and subtle in smaller, enclosed spaces. It has sweep and intimacy. And, yes, we need this movie now."
Oscar Films and the Prison of Historical Accuracy
"If Selma downplays or subverts LBJ’s efforts, that might be because its focus is elsewhere. And it not only shows Johnson struggling to find and assume his place in history, it also shows King struggling to do the same; that’s called good storytelling."
Selma Director Ava DuVernay: Don't Reduce This Movie to a Single Talking Point
"'I think everyone sees history through their own lens and I don't begrudge anyone from wanting to see what they want to see.'"
Brad Pitt Teaches You How to Pronounce David Oyelowo's Name
"'I know that there is one lingering question in the back of your minds and that question is, how the hell do you pronounce his name?'"
See How the Film Selma Portrays Lyndon B. Johnson
"In Ava DuVernay's acclaimed new film Selma, Martin Luther King Jr. works to forge an uneasy alliance with President Lyndon B. Johnson in order to constitutionally codify voting rights — a quest that the film portrays as a long and arduous one, since Johnson's initial reluctance to address the issue was what prompted King to stage his famous march from Selma to Montgomery."
With Her MLK Drama Selma, Ava DuVernay Is Directing History
"DuVernay … [is] widely expected to make some history of her own, with Selma, by becoming the first black woman to earn an Oscar nomination for Best Director."
THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING
Eddie Redmayne Knows How to Make People Think You're Smart
"'Appear confident in yourself and then maybe people will think you’re bright.'"
The Theory of Everything Does Not Deserve Eddie Redmayne's Astonishing Performance
"There’s no doubt that Redmayne is working from 20/20 hindsight. But the way he fuses past and future makes this a triumph of sympathetic imagination."
The Toughest Scene I Wrote: On The Theory of Everything's Broken Marriage
"One of the reasons I wanted to tell this story is because their love story is unprecedented."
Oscar Films and the Prison of Historical Accuracy
"After that, I can only presume that Stephen Hawking will start a Twitter war with his Theory of Everything director James Marsh."
Felicity Jones on The Theory of Everything, Lena Dunham, and Spider-Man
"'The film wasn't afraid to explore the female sexuality of a woman who's in the very complicated position of falling in love with two men, and it's also not afraid to explore the sexuality of a disabled man.'"
Eddie Redmayne on What He Learned From The Theory of Everything
" I suppose the only simple truth I took from the film is the idea of living forward, basically, like you want to fill every minute of your life as fully as possible."
Miles Teller Pounds the Skins, and Takes a Beating, in Whiplash
"The fear is contagious, but so is the jazz vibe: When Andrew snatches up his sticks and the band launches into a standard — say, Hank Levy's 'Whiplash' — it's hard not to smile, judder, and sway."
The Toughest Scene I Wrote: How Whiplash Packed the Whole Film Into Its First Moments
"[I]f the opening moments didn't land, I was in trouble. I had nothing else up my sleeve: The movie was this scene."
Whiplash Is Facing Some Oscar Nomination Drama
"Is Whiplash an original or adapted screenplay?"
Ask a Juilliard Professor: How Real Is Whiplash?
"You know how the drummer is so frustrated and scared, and his desire to succeed is so strong? He's practicing, really trying to get faster and faster, and he's drawing blood. That's unrealistic. People don't draw blood like that, playing music."
Oscar Front-runner J.K. Simmons on His Fearsome Whiplash Character
"'God bless Damien, who knew the two actors he wanted were Miles and me.'"
Miles Teller on Whiplash, Pushing Himself, and Fantastic Four
"'I wanted to do the scene where they’re fucking throwing things against the walls! If you’re going to do one scene from a play, pick the one where the shit’s hitting the fan.'"
Nobody's Stalking Miles Teller: The Sundance Breakout on That Awkward Moment, Fame, and Getting Out of Florida
"Teller’s career is taking off, thanks to the Sundance success of Whiplash, a far more brutal type of bromance in which Teller’s character, a ruthlessly determined drumming prodigy at a Juilliard-like music school, faces off against a sadistic bandmaster played by J. K. Simmons."