A persistent if whispered thought I keep hearing: apart from the sheer brilliance of Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu‘s Birdman, the affecting naturalism of Richard Linklater‘s Boyhood and the poignancy of James Marsh‘s The Theory of Everything, 2014 feels like a weak Best Picture year. I realize that a lot of people are serious believers in The Imitation Game. I’m not about to do a 180 on my 8.30 Telluride review — it’s smooth, efficient, well-ordered — but there’s a distinct resistance to its avoidance of any depiction of any aspects of Alan Turing‘s private life as a gay man. Quote from a dinner last night among three film cognoscenti: “If Nebraska had opened in this relatively weak year, it would be in a much stronger Best Picture position than it was last year with 12 Years A Slave and Wolf of Wall Street as competition.” The stage is clearly set for some significant, highly charged film to bulldoze its way into the conversation, elbow Birdman aside and take a commanding lead…but what?