Best Picture 2014: The Final Five

The wealth was spread around on the Academy’s big night for the 2014 contenders as all 8 Best Picture nominees won an Oscar or more. Welcome back to my series where I speculate about what would’ve happened in that race if we were still at a fixed number of 5 BP hopefuls.

As you may know, the Academy expanded beyond a quintet starting in 2009. It’s fluctuated from anywhere between 5-10 (usually landing on 8-9) or a set 10 (the way it was in 2009-2010 and the way it is once again starting in 2021). In 2014, we had an octad.

If it were only 5, we know Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s Birdman would be in there. It won Best Picture in addition to 3 other victories for its Director, Original Screenplay, and Cinematography.

What of the others? Let’s speculate!

American Sniper

Clint Eastwood’s massive hit with Bradley Cooper as the late Iraqi War marksman Chris Kyle set a January opening weekend record that still stands today. It also picked up 5 additional nods for Cooper, the Adapted Screenplay, Sound Editing (where it won), Sound Mixing, and Film Editing. Of the nominees, it’s by far the biggest earner.

Does It Make the Final Five?

I struggled here… but no. Here’s a key factor to remember – Sniper didn’t set that impressive box office record until a week after nominations came out. Furthermore, it failed to pick up a Best Picture nomination at the Golden Globes. As you’ll realize here, there’s only film that I’m confident wouldn’t have made the five. This isn’t it, but I’m leaving it off.


Richard Linklater’s coming-of-age tale was filmed over 11 years and drew loads of acclaim. The 6 nominations included a win for Patricia Arquette in Supporting Actress.

Does It Make the Final Five?

Yes. For a while, Boyhood was a threat to win and it scored directing, editing and screenplay mentions (which are usually critical precursors).

The Grand Budapest Hotel

The period comedy from Wes Anderson was his breakthrough with the Academy, tying Birdman for the most nods at 9. It also tied the BP recipient for most victories as it took home Production Design, Score, Costume Design, and Makeup and Hairstyling.

Does It Make the Final Five?

Yes. This was clearly a moment where awards voters and Mr. Anderson gelled. The key precursor boxes were also checked.

The Imitation Game

The historical drama with Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing was right behind Birdman and Budapest with 8 nominations. The sole win was for Adapted Screenplay.

Does It Make the Final Five?

Yes. Once again, the trio of direction, screenplay (and a victory no less), and editing (plus the impressive nom haul) put it there.


Ana DuVernay’s MLK biopic received only one other nomination for its original song “Glory” (where it took the prize).

Does It Make the Final Five?

No and this is, by far, the easiest call of the group. Without inclusion for DuVernay or lead David Oyelowo (or screenplay or any tech category), it’s fairly surprising it made the BP cut at all.

The Theory of Everything

Eddie Redmayne won Best Actor as Stephen Hawking and it picked up four other nominations.

Does It Make the Final Five?

No, but this was a very close call. I’m generally resistant to saying the Best Actor’s movie doesn’t get in BP (it hasn’t happened since 2009). Yet its misses in directing and editing contributed to this projection.


Damien Chazelle’s heralded directorial debut, like Theory, had a handful nods. They included a Supporting Actor gold statute for J.K. Simmons and an Editing victory.

Does It the Make the Final Five?

Yes. Let me say that Sniper or Theory could’ve gotten in over this. I ultimately sided with Whiplash for the editing win and its across the board critical praise.

Therefore my 2014 quintet is:



The Grand Budapest Hotel

The Imitation Game


My thoughts on the 2015 BP derby will be up soon!

If you missed my earlier posts covering 2019-2013, you can access them here:

Best Picture 2009: The Final Five

Best Picture 2010: The Final Five

Best Picture 2011: The Final Five

Best Picture 2012: The Final Five

Best Picture 2013: The Final Five

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