Movie awards season is in full swing, with several organizations announcing their award winners this week, and the Golden Globe nominations coming on Thursday.
To stay in the loop, here are 15 award-bait films you should see:
“American Sniper” — Clint Eastwood was just named best director by the National Board of Review for this tale that stars Bradley Cooper as a lethal Navy SEAL sniper. (Opens wide in January.)
“Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” — Michael Keaton is at the front of a particularly crowded best actor Oscar race this year as a washed-up actor trying to reinvent himself. (Now playing.)
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“Boyhood” — Richard Linklater’s portrait of a boy, filmed over the course of 12 years, is a marvel and will get many best picture nods. (Available on DVD on Jan. 6.)
“Foxcatcher” — There is major buzz for this drama based on the real-life John du Pont (Steve Carell), who trained wrestler Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum) for the 1988 Olympics with tragic results. (Opens Dec. 19.)
“Inherent Vice” — This could be this season’s “American Hustle” – an ambitious ensemble piece as directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, always an awards favorite. (Opens wide Jan. 9.)
“Into the Woods” — The fairy-tale musical could get acting nods but will most likely reign in musical/comedy and technical categories. (Opens Dec. 25.)
“The LEGO Movie” — The vibrant comedy is an early favorite to sweep all the animated feature categories, and rightly so. (Now on home video.)
“Mr. Turner” — Character actor Timothy Spall came out of nowhere to be named best actor by the New York Critics Circle as 18th-century British painter J.M.W. Turner. (Opens wide early 2015.)
“A Most Violent Year” — This is the National Board of Review’s best picture winner, about an ambitious immigrant who fights to protect his business and family in ruthless 1981 New York City. (Opens wide early 2015.)
“St. Vincent” — Bill Murray could get notices for his turn as a bawdy, grumpy war veteran. (Now playing.)
“Still Alice” — Julianne Moore could finally get that elusive Oscar gold for best actress as a woman who deals with early Alzheimer’s. (Limited release in January.)
“The Theory of Everything” — Eddie Redmayne is astonishing as physicist Stephen Hawking in this look at his life. (Now playing.)
“Unbroken” — This reeks of awards fodder: It’s an epic directed by Angelina Jolie, written by Joel and Ethan Coen and features a hot, rising star in Jack O’Connell as an Olympic runner who is taken prisoner by Japanese forces during World War II. (Opens Dec. 25.)
“Whiplash” — Longtime character actor J.K. Simmons is already getting supporting actor recognition for his fierce turn as a hardcore music instructor. But the film’s lead, Miles Teller, is equally as good. (Now playing.)
“Wild” — Reese Witherspoon looks to be a favorite lead actress contender as a woman who hikes 1,100 miles to get over a recent catastrophe. (Opens Dec. 25.)
Reach Rod Pocowatchit at firstname.lastname@example.org.