Although an especially nasty and vituperative critic was one of the many characters on display in the film "Birdman," the Chicago Film Critics Association apparently held no grudges, if the nominations for the group's 2014 film awards are any indication. The hallucinatory black comedy about a washed-up movie star desperately trying to restart his flagging career with a turn on Broadway led all comers with nine nominations, including Best Picture, nods for Alejandro G. Inarritu for Best Director and Best Original Screenplay, Michael Keaton for Best Actor, Edward Norton for Best Supporting Actor, Emma Stone for Best Supporting Actress and additional nominations for Cinematography, Editing and Original Score.
In second place with eight nominations was "The Grand Budapest Hotel," Wes Anderson's whimsical comedy-drama about a concierge in a posh European hotel who becomes involved in intrigue while the world teeters on the brink of war. In addition to Best Picture and nominations for Anderson for Director and Original Screenplay, it was also cited for Art Direction/Set Production Design, Cinematography, Editing, Original Score and newcomer Tony Revolori landed in the Most Promising Performer category. Following up with seven nominations was "Boyhood," Richard Linklater's intimate epic charting the growth and maturation of a boy over the course of a 12-year shooting period. In addition to Best Picture and Director/Original Screenplay slots for Linklater, there were nominations for Ethan Hawke for Supporting Actor, Patricia Arquette for Supporting Actress, Ellar Coltrane, the boy at the center of it all, for Most Promising Performer and a nod for Best Editing.
The acclaimed indie drama "Whiplash," charting the battle of wills between a highly ambitious musical prodigy and his teacher, both obsessed with perfection at all costs, came up with five nominations, including Best Picture, Original Screenplay for writer-director Damien Chazelle, Supporting Actor for J.K. Simmons's terrifying turn as the teacher and Best Editing. In a surprise, the fifth Best Picture slot was filled by "Under the Skin," Jonathan Glazer's alternately creepy and erotic sci-fi drama about an alien in human form wandering through the streets of Scotland looking for. . . something--the film also earned Scarlett Johansson a Best Actress nod for her performance as the alien as well as slots in the Adapted Screenplay and Original Score categories. The year's other mind-bending sci-fi film, "Interstellar," earned Christopher Nolan a Best Director nomination and additional citations for Art Direction/Production Design, Cinematography and Original Score.
Among the other notable standouts in this year's crop of nominees, British actors Benedict Cumberbatch and Eddie Redmayne find themselves going head-to-head in the Best Actor category for playing troubled geniuses in, respectively, "The Imitation Game" and "The Theory of Everything," the controversial "Gone Girl" received nominations for David Fincher for Director, Rosamund Pike for Actress, author Gillian Flynn for Adapted Screenplay and Editing and the adaptation of Thomas Pynchon's screw-loose detective novel "Inherent Vice" earned nominations for celebrated filmmaker Paul Thomas Anderson for Adapted Screenplay, Josh Brolin for Supporting Actor and Cinematography. Foreign titles were also represented in several key categories as well--beside being cited in the Foreign-Language Film category, "Ida" earned nods for Supporting Actress (Agata Kulesza), Promising Performer (Agata Trzebuchowska) and Cinematography while the wrenching Belgian drama "Two Days, One Night" earned Marion Cotillard a Best Actress nomination. "Life Itself," Steve James's celebration of the life and work of the late Roger Ebert, was nominated for Best Documentary alongside such equally acclaimed titles as "Citizenfour," "Jodorowsky's Dune," "Last Days in Vietnam" and "The Overnighters."
Now in its 25th year, the CFCA will announce its winners during our year-end awards dinner to be held on the evening of December 15, 2014. Follow @ChicagoCritics on Twitter for the real-time announcement.
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Under the Skin
Wes Anderson--The Grand Budapest Hotel
David Fincher--Gone Girl
Alejandro G. Inarritu--Birdman