Birdman, Boyhood, Unbroken among top 2014 films

Los Angeles – From Birdman to Unbroken, the American Film Institute selected an eclectic range of films already gaining momentum in the Hollywood awards race as its top picks for 2014.

Breaking the traditional selection of 10 films for the first time, the annual American Film Institute list compiled 11 picks, including American Sniper, Boyhood, Foxcatcher, The Imitation Game, Interstellar, Into the Woods, Nightcrawler, Selma and Whiplash.

Unbroken, based on the life of Olympian Louis Zamperini and directed by Angelina Jolie, earned its first notable awards mention, as well as Disney’s upcoming musical Into the Woods and Christopher Nolan’s space fantasy Interstellar.

Richard Linklater’s Boyhood, filmed over 12 years and following a boy’s coming-of-age tale, was awarded best picture by the Los Angeles Film Critics Association over the weekend and won best film, director and supporting actress at the New York Film Critics Circle Awards last week.

The American Film Institute selections, made by a jury of American Film Institute members, scholars, TV and film artists and critics, come ahead of the Screen Actors Guild and Golden Globe nominations this week.

The three sets of picks often indicate the frontrunners for February’s Oscars top categories. The 2015 Oscar nominations will be announced on January 15.

This is the first time in American Film Institute awards history that the voting procedure – including tiebreakers – has resulted in the inclusion of 11 motion picture honorees, the organisation said.

The American Film Institute also selected 10 television programs for its top 2014 picks, including AMC’s advertising period drama Mad Men, which extended its record into a seventh year on the list.

HBO’s fantasy epic Game of Thrones, FX Networks’ Cold War spy drama The Americans and Netflix’s prison comedy Orange Is the New Black also returned to the list this year.

New additions rounding out the picks were FX’s dark comedy Fargo, HBO’s techie comedy Silicon Valley, ABC’s legal thriller How to Get Away with Murder, The CW’s coming of age comedy Jane the Virgin, Cinemax’s period doctor drama The Knick and Amazon Studios’ comedy Transparent.

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