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'Boyhood', 'Birdman' among top contenders for Oscar noms

In this image released by Fox Searchlight Pictures, Michael Keaton portrays Riggan in a scene from "Birdman." THE ASSOCIATED PRESS/Fox Searchlight, Atsushi Nishijima

It’s a packed race for the Oscars this year, but Thursday’s announcement of the Academy Awards nominations might help thin out the herd. But some films are seen as a sure-bet this year for best picture or acting prizes, including Boyhood, Birdman, Selma, and The Imitation Game, among others.

Boyhood has pulled ahead as the front-runner this season, picking up Golden Globes this week for best drama film, best director for Richard Linklater, and best supporting actress for Patricia Arquette, who is the front-runner in her category.

Birdman is also expected to receive several nods as well, for best picture, best director for Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, and best actor for Michael Keaton, who is this year’s shoe-in. Edward Norton and Emma Stone could also see nominations in the supporting acting categories.

Martin Luther King Jr. biopic Selma could also receive nods for best picture, best director for Ava Duvernay, and best actor for David Oyelowo. If nominated, Duvernay would become the first African American female to be recognized in the directing category.

The Imitation Game has picked up steam this week with the nomination of its director, Morten Tyldum, for the Directors Guild of America (DGA) prize. The film is expected to be nominated for best picture, its lead actor Benedict Cumberbatch, and supporting actress Keira Knightley might get some Oscar love too.

The Theory of Everything will also likely net nods for its lead actor Eddie Redmayne and supporting actress Felicity Jones.

The Grand Budapest Hotel could become Wes Anderson’s first film to be nominated for best picture. Anderson could also receive some recognition and Ralph Fiennes might get a best actor nomination as well.

Pulpy hit Gone Girl might also receive nods for best picture and best director for David Fincher, with possible nominations also seen for leads Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike. Gillian Flynn, who authored both the book it is based on as well as the script, might receive recognition in the best adapted screenplay category.

Whiplash could see recognition in the best picture category, but it’s a sure bet when it comes to best supporting actor front-runner JK Simmons. Simmons has been the odds-on favorite for that prize this year, a status confirmed by his win at the Golden Globes on Sunday.

And Julianne Moore is also expected to net a nomination for best actress for her role in Still Alice, in a performance for which she has received rave reviews as well as a Golden Globe for best dramatic actress.

Nominations for the Academy Awards will be announced Thursday, January 15. The prizes will be handed out in a live telecast from the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood on February 22.