The Visual Effects Society has announced its list of nominees for the organization's 10th annual ceremony, and leading the way wasn't one of the live action blockbusters on the whittled-down slate of 10 advancing Oscar contenders. It was Steven Spielberg's animated offering "The Adventures of Tintin," which landed six nominations across the feature film categories.

The animated films are segregated by the Society, though, (and "Tintin" was not shortlisted by the Academy), so leading the way for live action entries was the year's one-two franchise punch (and perhaps not-so-coincidentally the top two domestic grossers of the year) "Harry Potter and Deathly Hallows: Part 2" and "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen." Each picked up five nominations.

"Rise of the Planet of the Apes" wasn't far behind with four. All three are considered frontrunners for the Best Visual Effects Oscar race.

The biggest surprise is "The Tree of Life" managing to be shut out. Films like "Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows," "Source Code" and "War Horse" were noted for supporting visual effects and nowhere else, but nothing at all for Terrence Malick's partly cosmic opus. Nothing, either, for Lars von Trier's "Melancholia," which begins to shed some light on how limited in scope the slate ultimately was.

I was happy to see a little recognition for "Anonymous" (supporting visual effects and created environment). But it was a shame "Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol" could only nab one mention (for model work). The latter is on the Academy's list of finalists, the former is not.

Other Academy finalists recognized include "Hugo" with three nominations, "Captain America: The First Avenger" with two and "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" with one. "Real Steel" and "X-Men: First Class," both shortlisted by the Academy, were snubbed along with Malick's film.

Speaking of which, "The Tree of Life" visual effects consultant Douglas Trumbull was previously announced as recipient of the Georges Méliès Award. That should make for an awkward moment. Also previously announced was Stan Lee as recipient of this year's Lifetime Achievement Award.

As for Oscar, I still think "The Tree of Life" gets in (along with "Potter," "Apes," "Transformers" and "Hugo"). But I say again, watch out for "Pirates" as a spoiler. Every film in the series has been nominated here and one of them took home the gold.

Check out the full list of feature film nominees below, and refresh yourself with the Academy's shortlist of 10 Best Visual Effects finalists to get an idea of how you think this race might fall.

Outstanding Visual Effects in a Visual Effects-Driven Feature
"Captain America: The First Avenger"
"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2"
"Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides"
"Rise of the Planet of the Apes"
"Transformers: Dark of the Moon"

Outstanding Supporting Visual Effects in a Feature Motion Picture
"Anonymous"
"Hugo"
"Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows"
"Source Code"
"War Horse"

Outstanding Visual Effects in an Animated Feature Motion Picture
"The Adventures of Tintin"
"Arthur Christmas"
"Kung Fu Panda 2"
"Puss in Boots"
"Rango"

Outstanding Animated Character in a Live Action Feature Motion Picture
"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part " (Ukranian Ironbelly)
"Paul" (Paul)
"Rise of the Planet of the Apes" (Caesar)
"The Thing" (Edvard/Adam)

Outstanding Animated Character in an Animated Feature Motion Picture
"The Adventures of Tintin" (Tintin)
"Puss in Boots" (Puss)
"Rango" (Rango)
"Rio" (Nigel)

Outstanding Created Environment in a Live Action Feature Motion Picture
"Anonymous" (London)
"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2" (Hogwarts)
"Thor" (Heimdall's Observatory)
"Transformers: Dark of the Moon" (155 Wacker Drive)

Outstanding Created Environment in an Animated Feature Motion Picture
"The Adventures of Tintin" (Bagghar)
"The Adventures of Tintin" (Docks)
"The Adventures of Tintin" (Pirate Battle)
"Puss in Boots" (The Cloud World)
"Rango" (Main Street Dirt)

Outstanding Virtual Cinematography in a Live Action Feature Motion Picture
"Hugo"
"Rise of the Planet of the Apes"
"Thor"
"Transformers: Dark of the Moon"

Outstanding Virtual Cinematography in an Animated Feature Motion Picture
"The Adventures of Tintin"
"Arthur Christmas"
"Cars 2"
"Rango"

Outstanding Models in a Feature Motion Picture
"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2" (Hogwarts School Buildings)
"Hugo" (Train Crash)
"Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol" (Parking Garage)
"Transformers: Dark of the Moon" (Driller)

Outstanding Compositing in a Feature Motion Picture
"Captain America: The First Avenger"
"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2"
"Rise of the Planet of the Apes"
"Transformers: Dark of the Moon"

Remember to keep track of the ups and downs of the 2011-2012 film awards season via The Circuit.

For year-round entertainment news and awards season commentary follow @kristapley on Twitter.

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