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AMERICAN MOSAIC - Several Surprises in Oscar Nominations

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Chris Pine, left, and Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs announce the Academy Awards  nominations on Thursday, Jan. 15, 2015 in Beverly Hills, Calif. The 87th Annual Academy Awards will take place on Sunday, Feb. 22, 2015 at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Dan Steinberg/Invision/AP)
Chris Pine, left, and Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs announce the Academy Awards nominations on Thursday, Jan. 15, 2015 in Beverly Hills, Calif. The 87th Annual Academy Awards will take place on Sunday, Feb. 22, 2015 at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Dan Steinberg/Invision/AP)

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has announced this year's Oscar nominations. As usual, not everyone is happy about the choices. The nominees were announced Thursday morning in Hollywood, California.

The debate in the entertainment world centers on how few people of color received nominations for the Oscars.

The online entertainment magazine Variety.com noted the surprise absence of British actor David Oyelowo. He plays Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the civil rights picture, "Selma." Critics have widely praised his performance and he already was nominated for several awards, including a Golden Globe.

"Selma" received a total of two nominations for best picture and best original song. But many people expected director Ava Duvernay to make history as the first black female nominated for best director. That did not happen. The Oscar nominees for best director are all men. One of them is Alejandro Gonzalez Innarritu who headed the movie, "Birdman." It received nine Oscar nominations in all.

Best Picture

"The Grand Budapest Hotel" tied "Birdman" with nine Academy Award nominations. It is a funny film about a hotel employee who is suspected of murder and how he tries to prove his innocence. The film did not receive any acting nominations but the Academy did honor Wes Anderson as a nominee for best director.

"Selma" was one of the four best picture nominees about real people. "The Theory of Everything" is about famed British physicist Stephen Hawking. It is based on a book by his wife Jane Wilde Hawking that tells about their life together and his scientific career.

"The Imitation Game" is about another British genius. Alan Turing was a mathematician in the 1940s who built a machine to break German code during World War Two. A hero, Britain later jailed him because he was homosexual.

The other two movies nominated for Best Picture are "Boyhood" and "Whiplash." "Whiplash" tells about a teenage jazz musician pushed to the edge by his music teacher. And "Boyhood" is the story of a family from a boy's point of view. Director Richard Linklater shot the movie with the same actors over an 11-year period.

Actor in a Leading Role

Michael Keaton stars in the movie "Birdman" about an aging actor who is trying to renew his career by producing a Broadway play. The Academy nominated Keaton for an Oscar for best lead actor. Last Sunday, he won the Golden Globe for his performance in the film.

Bradley Cooper also received an Oscar nomination for his lead performance in "American Sniper." The film is based on a book by an American Marine named Chris Kyle. He is considered the deadliest sniper in the history of the American military.

Benedict Cumberbatch received a nomination for his performance as Alan Turing in "The Imitation Game," and Eddie Redmayne for his role as Stephen Hawking in "The Theory of Everything." Like Keaton, Redmayne also won a Golden Globe award for his performance.

Actress in a Leading Role

The Academy also nominated Felicity Jones in "The Theory of Everything" as best lead actress for her portrayal of Jane Wilde Hawking.

Along with Felicity Jones, five actresses were nominated for their leading performances. Julianne Moore was honored for her work in "Still Alice." The film tells the heartbreaking story of a middle-aged university professor who discovers she has Alzheimer's disease. Moore won a Golden Globe for her acting in the movie. She is widely favored to win the Academy Award.

Many critics see Reese Witherspoon as Moore's only competition. Witherspoon is nominated for "Wild," a movie based on the true story of Cheryl Strayed. When Cheryl Strayed was 22, she began a 1,700-kilometer walk up the U.S. Pacific Coast Trail. As she worked her way through California, Oregon and Washington she also worked through her grief over her mother's death and her struggle with drug abuse.

The Academy also named French actress Marion Cotillard as a nominee for her performance in "Two Days, One Night." And American actress Rosamund Pike received a nomination for her work in the suspense film "Gone Girl."

Notably absent from the best actress list was Jennifer Aniston. The former "Friends" actress portrays a woman who suffers from chronic pain in the movie "Cake." The performance was a hit with many critics.

We can see how it all works out on February 22 when the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences holds its 87th Oscar Awards. The ceremony will be televised live from Hollywood, California.

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Words in This Story

original – adj. made or produced first: not a copy, translation, etc.

genius – n. a very smart or talented person : a person who has a level of talent or intelligence that is very rare or remarkable

coden. a set of letters, numbers, symbols, etc., that is used to secretly send messages to someone

portrayal – n. the way in which an actor plays a character

sniper – n. a person who shoots at another person from a hidden place

suspensen. a feeling or state of nervousness or excitement caused by wondering what will happen

chronicadj. continuing or occurring again and again for a long time

Have you seen any of these movies? Tell us about your favorite movie, actor and actress of 2014? Post your thoughts in the comments section.

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