As always, the announcement of the 82nd Academy Award nominations brought a slew of surprises to even those pundits who follow the awards season race on a year-round basis.  Thanks to the 10 nominee change this year didn't have as many glaring oversights, besides Juliann Moore being skipped over, but it still provided good water cooler fodder for the 310-213 area codes.  Let's review shall we?

"The Blind Side" lands a Best Picture nomination
I'd actually called this one around Christmas, but changed my predictions after it seemed as though the film was experiencing something of a backlash.  Sandra Bullock's ascension to Best Actress frontrunner should have been a sign it would sneak into the 10.  Still, even peeps at Alcon Entertainment and Warner Bros. are no doubt as stunned as everyone else that it made it.

"Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs" goes hungry

Sony Animation's biggest hit couldn't make an expanded Animated category's final five.  Instead, the little known UK release "The Secret of Kells" overtook both "Cloudy" and the critically-acclaimed "Ponyo." A head-scratcher for sure.

"A Serious Man" makes Oscar's 10 Best Picture nominees

It's not that "A Serious Man" was missing critical acclaim, but the low-grossing drama almost disappeared during awards season and was the subject of numerous articles attacking it as anti-Semitic.  Clearly, the Academy did not disagree.

"The Hurt Locker" was nominated for...Best Original Score
Even distributor Summit Entertainment couldn't have seen this one coming. It knocked out expected nominees "The Informant!," "Up in the Air," or "Coco Before Chanel." Just goes to show you how much "Locker" is loved by the membership (more on this later).

Maggie Gyllenhaal knocks Julianne Moore to the curb

Longtime Academy favorite Moore was seemingly knocked out of the Best Supporting Race by "Crazy Heart's" Maggie Gyllenhaal.  Considering "Heart" didn't get into the ten, it shows how little appeal Tom Ford's "A Single Man" had with the Academy. The drama received only one nod for actor Colin Firth.

What's that song called again?
Ever hear of “Loin de Paname” from “Paris 36”?  Considering the movie made less than $1 million U.S. chances are not many on the Oscar show production team did either. There will be lots of scrambling on how to incorporate that one into the telecast that's for sure.  Meanwhile, "Nine's" "Take it All" makes it in the Best Song category instead of "Cinema Italiano."  So much for the big Kate Hudson musical number...

"Star Trek" gets a...visual effects nomination?

Listen, nobody loves the new "Star Trek" movie more than this prognosticator, but what amazing or groundbreaking work are we missing here? It looked great, but "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" was much more impressive.



"In the Loop" makes the Best Adapted Screenplay race
The only cheer from this pundit's living room at 5:40 AM PT this morning came when "In the Loop" was nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay.  This is a huge accomplishment for a film that had to overcome a mostly VOD release, little star power and perceptions it was just a spinoff of a British TV show. Now, if only we could get a sequel...

"The Messenger" breaks through in...screenplay?

If you were to ask those behind the stealth campaign for "The Messenger" if they thought their best chances for a nod besides Woody Harrelson were in Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress (Samantha Morton) or Best Screenplay, the latter would not be their first guess.  Instead, the Sundance drama knocked out a slot for "Avatar" (uh-oh) and found itself shining with two nominations.

The Academy rejected Clint Eastwood once again in the Best Picture race

Ironically a better film than "The Blind Side," Clint Eastwood's "Invictus" -- once an Oscar frontrunner -- was left out of Oscar's top ten.  This is the second year in a row the Academy favorite has failed to land a top nod after the hit "Gran Torino" didn't make the cut (although you could argue it would have if there were ten nods last year).  "Invictus" suffered from two things: too much rugby and too similarly themed to the "Blind Side."  After $200 million, it was hard to believe Oscar was going to ignore that melodrama (even if it does show questionable taste).

"The Hurt Locker's" domination

Yes, "Avatar" and "Hurt Locker" both tied with nine nominations, but its where "Locker's" came that tell the tale.  Unlike James Cameron's blockbuster, "Locker" landed nods in the screenplay (Best Original Screenplay) and acting (Best Actor).  Those are key voting blocks that did not recognize "Avatar."  It's a long race to March 7  -- thanks Winter Olympics -- but the indie underdog may just overtake the highest grossing film of all time.

What surprised you most about this year's Oscar nods? Share your thoughts below.