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All of 2015's best picture Oscar nominees got tax break help

We'll learn tonight which of eight films -- American Sniper, Birdman, Boyhood, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Imitation Game, Selma, The Theory of Everything, and Whiplash -- that the Academy Awards voters have deemed as 2015's Best Picture.


Las Vegas odds makers say it's a tight race between Birdman and Boyhood, with the Michael Keaton comeback movie having a slight edge over Richard Linklater's innovatively filmed look at a boy and his family.

UPDATE: Birdman was the big winner. Get full Oscars results at the awards' website.

From a tax perspective, however, all of the flicks already are winners.

Yep, I'm talking about tax credits.

Jason Russell also talks about movie making tax breaks in his piece for the Washington Examiner.

And the tax credit winner is: All eight films got some degree of government subsidy, but American Sniper, the Clint Eastwood/Bradley Cooper collaboration based on the life of military sniper Chris Kyle, got the lion's share of tax help.

That's good enough to earn 8 this week's By the Numbers honor.

Sniper received a $6.8 million tax credit from California, more than any other Best Picture nominee could have been eligible for, according to Russell. In fact, he notes, this tax credit is larger than the entire production budgets of two other Best Picture contenders, Whiplash and Boyhood.

Plus, writes Russell, American Sniper also filmed some scenes in Morocco, which cut production costs by lowering its value added tax (VAT) rate by 20 percent.

You've got to love the irony of American Sniper, which is the overwhelming film favorite of Red State moviegoers, at least according to Facebook chatter examined by the Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire blog, getting the biggest cut of government money.

Folks in those more politically conservative locations tend to be, at least theoretically, against government handouts.

Apolitical tax breaks: But politics aside, as much as is possible when you're talking movies and money, many productions companies -- be they making movies, television shows, online programming or video games -- depend on tax breaks.

The Examiner's table shows just how much help the eight Best Picture nominees of 2015 received to make their movie magic happen.

Oscar nominated films 2015 film tax credits_Washington Examiner

Critics of production film credits say they don't work as envisioned. In worst case scenarios, they are rife with fraud.

But movie makers and lawmakers alike still love them. So look for the tax credits to continue.

And we tax geeks and movie lovers will be watching tonight to see which film gets the best tax credit return on investment at the Oscars.

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