The 87th Academy Awards

What do the movies Gorillas in the Mist (1988), Kinsey (2004), Madame Curie (1943), A Beautiful Mind (2001) and The Elephant Man (1980) have in common? They are all biopics about scientists or science and they were all nominated for an Academy Award in at least one category. A Beautiful Mind won the best picture category for its portrayal of the life of John Nash, a Nobel Laureate in Economics.

The list of nominations for the 87th Academy Awards has been announced. Among the eight movies nominated in the best feature film category, two of them are biopics about scientists.

Alan Turing and Stephen Hawking

“The Theory of Everything is about the early life of theoretical physicist, cosmologist, and atheist Stephen William Hawking. Directed by directed by James Marsh (Project Nim) based on the memoir, “Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen,” by Jane Hawking, “The Theory of Everything” deals with her relationship with her ex-husband, Stephen Hawking, his diagnosis of motor neuron disease, and his success in the field of physics.

“The Imitation Game” is about computer scientist and mathematician Alan Mathison Turing. Directed by Morten Tyldum and based loosely on the biography, “Alan Turing: The Enigma,” by Andrew Hodges, “The Imitation Game” is a film about British mathematician Alan Turing’s involvement in cracking Nazi Germany’s Enigma code during World War II. “The Imitation Game” stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Turing and Keira Knightley as cryptanalyst and numismatist Joan Clarke.

Nominations for the 87th Academy Awards Best Picture Award

The Theory of Everything (2014)
The Theory of Everything (2014)

Theory of Everything

In the 1960s, Cambridge University student and future physicist Stephen Hawking (Eddie Redmayne) falls in love with fellow collegian Jane Wilde (Felicity Jones). At 21, Hawking learns that he has motor neuron disease. Despite this — and with Jane at his side — he begins an ambitious study of time, of which he has very little left, according to his doctor. He and Jane defy terrible odds and break new ground in the fields of medicine and science, achieving more than either could hope to imagine.

Initial release: November 7, 2014 (USA)
Director: James Marsh
Running time: 123 minutes

American Sniper
The Imitation Game (2014)

The Imitation Game

In 1939, newly created British intelligence agency MI6 recruits Cambridge mathematics alumnus Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) to crack Nazi codes, including Enigma — which cryptanalysts had thought unbreakable. Turing’s team, including Joan Clarke (Keira Knightley), analyze Enigma messages while he builds a machine to decipher them. Turing and team finally succeed and become heroes, but in 1952, the quiet genius encounters disgrace when authorities reveal he is gay and send him to prison.

Initial release: November 28, 2014 (USA)
Director: Morten Tyldum
Running time: 114 minutes

American Sniper
American Sniper (2014)

American Sniper

U.S. Navy SEAL Chris Kyle (Bradley Cooper) takes his sole mission — protect his comrades — to heart and becomes one of the most lethal snipers in American history. His pinpoint accuracy not only saves countless lives but also makes him a prime target of insurgents. Despite grave danger and his struggle to be a good husband and father to his family back in the States, Kyle serves four tours of duty in Iraq. However, when he finally returns home, he finds that he cannot leave the war behind.

Initial release: December 25, 2014 (USA)
Director: Clint Eastwood
Running time: 134 minutes

Selma (2014)
Selma (2014)


Although the Civil Rights Act of 1964 legally desegregated the South, discrimination was still rampant in certain areas, making it very difficult for blacks to register to vote. In 1965, an Alabama city became the battleground in the fight for suffrage. Despite violent opposition, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (David Oyelowo) and his followers pressed forward on an epic march from Selma to Montgomery, and their efforts culminated in President Lyndon Johnson signing the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Initial release: December 25, 2014 (USA)
Director: Ava DuVernay
Running time: 127 minutes

The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)
The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)

The Grand Budapest Hotel

In the 1930s, the Grand Budapest Hotel is a popular European ski resort, presided over by concierge Gustave H. (Ralph Fiennes). Zero, a junior lobby boy, becomes Gustave’s friend and protege. Gustave prides himself on providing first-class service to the hotel’s guests, including satisfying the sexual needs of the many elderly women who stay there. When one of Gustave’s lovers dies mysteriously, Gustave finds himself the recipient of a priceless painting and the chief suspect in her murder.

Initial release: February 8, 2014 (Prague)
Director: Wes Anderson
Running time: 100 minutes

Birdman (2014)
Birdman (2014)


Former cinema superhero Riggan Thomson (Michael Keaton) is mounting an ambitious Broadway production that he hopes will breathe new life into his stagnant career. It’s risky, but he hopes that his creative gamble will prove that he’s a real artist and not just a washed-up movie star. As opening night approaches, a castmate is injured, forcing Riggan to hire an actor (Edward Norton) who is guaranteed to shake things up. Meanwhile, Riggan must deal with his girlfriend, daughter, and ex-wife.

Initial release: October 17, 2014 (USA)
Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu
Running time: 119 minutes

Whiplash (2014)
Whiplash (2014)


A first-year music student (Miles Teller) wins a seat behind the drums in a jazz band led by a teacher (J.K. Simmons) who uses fear and intimidation to push his students to perfection. Whiplash is a 2014 American drama film written and directed by Damien Chazelle. The film stars Miles Teller as a young jazz drummer who attends one of the best music schools in the country under the tutelage of the school’s fearsome maestro of jazz (J. K. Simmons). It also stars Paul Reiser, Jayson Blair, and Kavita Patil.

Initial release: January 16, 2014
Director: Damien Chazelle
Running time: 107 minutes

Boyhood (2014)
Boyhood (2014)


The joys and pitfalls of growing up are seen through the eyes of a child named Mason (Ellar Coltrane), his parents (Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke) and his sister (Lorelei Linklater). Vignettes, filmed with the same cast over the course of 12 years, capture family meals, road trips, birthday parties, graduations and other important milestones. Songs from Coldplay, Arcade Fire and other artists capture the time period. Directed by Richard Linklater.

Initial release: July 11, 2014 (USA)
Director: Richard Linklater
Running time: 166 minutes