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Nine things everyone could be talking about after the Oscar nominations

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Selma 01
Atsushi Nishijima

After Chris Pine and Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs announce this year’s Oscar nominations Thursday morning, those who have been following this year’s race will have a lot to talk about. Will Boyhood be unstoppable? Did Selma get the attention it deserves? Which actor is crying into his cereal? Have you seen Cake yet?

In advance of tomorrow’s big announcement, here are nine things that everyone could be talking about after the Oscar nominations. 

What happened to Selma?

Regardless of how Oscar nominations shake out, it seems likely that the conversation will focus on how Ava DuVernay’s film about Martin Luther King, Jr. fared. Initially, Selma seemed like an Oscar sure thing in all the right ways. After all, it’s an almost universally praised film (99 percent fresh on Rotten Tomatoes) about an important historical subject.

But while it received Golden Globe nominations (and one win), Selma‘s historical accuracy has been criticized—and it hasn’t received any nominations from the major guilds, usually seen as Oscar signifiers. (Its screenplay was not eligible for a Writers Guild Award.) Perhaps this is because guild members did not receive DVD screeners of Selma in time; by the time the film was finished and DVDs ready to be sent out, the PGA and DGA were well into their voting periods. Paramount determined it was best just to get DVDs to the Academy and BAFTA.

An Oscar nomination for Best Picture without any guild nominations is not unprecedented, however: 2012’s Amour had no guild nominations, nor did 2011’s The Tree of Life or Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.

But if DuVernay gets a nomination it could be historic

If Ava DuVernay gets nominated for Best Director, she will become the first black woman to do so. Reminder: Only three black directors have been nominated for the award, and none have won, while only four women have been nominated for the prize—with one, Kathryn Bigelow, winning for The Hurt Locker.

The Academy could honor much-beloved filmmakers who aren’t always awards favorites 

It’s genuinely exciting that we’re in an Oscar year where a Richard Linklater movie is the best picture front-runner and a Wes Anderson movie has a pretty good chance of taking home a prize. Linklater and Anderson have long been considered auteurs, but both have gotten little love from the Academy in the past. Anderson has two writing nominations and one Best Animated Film not for Fantastic Mr. Fox. Linklater has two writing nominations for the latter Before movies. Both Boyhood and The Grand Budapest Hotel, the Golden Globe winners in their respective best picture categories, have strong chances of being major players come tomorrow, and it’s looking like Boyhood could be the film to beat. As New York magazine’s Adam Sternbergh wrote on Twitter following the Globes: “In fact, between Richard Linklater and Wes Anderson, last night was strong showing for offbeat filmmakers w/ particular ongoing obsessions.”

Clint Eastwood and Robert Duvall could break age records

American Sniper sort of crept up on awards season. It had a late release and got snubbed at the Golden Globes. Yet it’s still part of the conversation because it was successful where Selma wasn’t: at the guild awards. Eastwood’s film about Chris Kyle snagged both Producers and Directors Guild nominations. If the film’s success continues, and if the 84-year-old Eastwood gets a Best Director nomination for American Sniper, he would beat John Huston as the oldest nominee in that category. If he wins, he’ll beat himself as the oldest winner.

If Robert Duvall, also 84, scores a best supporting actor nomination for The Judge, he will become the oldest male actor ever nominated—beating out Hal Holbrook, nominated at 82 for Into the Wild.

Jennifer Aniston could be an Oscar nominee

Look how far Rachel Green has come! Come tomorrow morning, Aniston could very well be a nominee for indie film Cake. Aniston already has SAG and Golden Globes nominations for her performance as a woman suffering from chronic pain. Not everyone will be too please with this. At Slate, David Ehrlich asked: “How on Earth did one of the very worst films of 2014 become a near–shoo-in for an Oscar nod?”

Who gets left out of the Best Actor race?

It’s a strong year for actors, but now it seems certain that one big name who has been running strong in the awards race will get left out. Michael Keaton for Birdman, Eddie Redmayne for The Theory of Everything, and Benedict Cumberbatch for The Imitation Game appear to be sure things, and it’s likely that the last two spots will be occupied by two out of the following three: David Oyelowo for Selma, Jake Gyllenhaal for Nightcrawler, and Steve Carell for Foxcatcher. So who doesn’t get the prize? Mark Harris, writing at Grantland, picks Carell, an early favorite, as the loser, as does EW‘s Nicole Sperling. Vulture’s Kyle Buchanan thinks it might be Oyelowo.

Did Whiplash‘s screenplay get the short shrift?

Whiplash, Damien Chazelle’s film about a scary jazz instructor, seems like a contender for an original screenplay prize. At least, that’s what Sony Pictures Classics was thinking when it campaigned for the film in that category. However, the Academy put it on the ballot as an adapted screenplay, because it was based on a short Chazelle made. Which, in turn, was based on his full-length Whiplash screenplay. If Whiplash ends up getting snubbed in the adapted category, the fault would seem to be on the Academy.

Emmanuel Lubezki could win back-to-back cinematography awards—or Roger Deakins could finally win

Categories like Best Cinematography aren’t always the focus of attention, but Lubezki won the Oscar last year for his camera work on Gravity, and a nomination seems in the cards for the equally visually creative Birdman. Meanwhile, though Unbroken may not be a current frontrunner, the oft-nominated, never-winning Roger Deakins could add a 12th nomination to his dance card—and have another chance at breaking his losing streak.

There could be another “Alone Yet Not Alone”

Remember last year, when this random song—that eventually had its nomination revoked—got a nod? Yes. Just a reminder that anything can happen.