The nominations announced Thursday set up a race between three very different films, all of which were nominated for best picture. The 86th annual Academy Awards will take place March 2.
Mexican-born "Gravity'' director Alfonso Cuaron and British-born "12 Years a Slave'' director Steve McQueen both received best director nominations.
Nine films were nominated for best picture. The other nominees are "Captain Phillips,'' `'Dallas Buyers Club,'' `'Her,'' `'Nebraska,'' `'The Wolf of Wall Street'' and the British film "Philomena.''
The nominations for best foreign language film are "The Broken Circle Breakdown'' from Belgium, "The Great Beauty'' from Italy, "The Hunt'' from Denmark, "The Missing Picture'' from Cambodia and "Omar'' from the Palestinian territories.
The most notable omission for a nomination was Tom Hanks for his lead performance in "Captain Phillips.'' Hanks is widely beloved by the academy, having been nominated five times previously, winning for "Forest Gump'' and "Philadelphia.''
Robert Redford, expected by many to be nominated for the shipwreck drama "All Is Lost,'' also missed out on a best actor nod. Redford has never won an acting Oscar.
The best actor nominees are British-born Chiwetel Ejiofor (''12 Years a Slave''), Bruce Dern (''Nebraska''), Leonardo DiCaprio (''The Wolf of Wall Street''), Matthew McConaughey (''Dallas Buyers Club'') and Christian Bale (''American Hustle'').
Disney's making of "Mary Poppins'' tale "Saving Mr. Banks'' also failed to land either a best picture nomination or a best actress nod for British-born Emma Thompson.
The best actress nominees are Amy Adams (''American Hustle''), Australian-born Cate Blanchett (''Blue Jasmine''), Sandra Bullock (''Gravity''), British-born Judi Dench (''Philomena'') and Meryl Streep (''August: Osage County'').
This is Streep's 18th nomination, including three wins.
Many enjoyed their first Oscar nomination Thursday, including Ejiofor, McConaughey, Michael Fassbender (''12 Years a Slave''), McQueen, Barkhad Abdi (a limo driver before being cast in "Captain Phillips'') and Jared Leto, who had devoted himself to music before returning to play a transsexual in the Texas HIV drama "Dallas Buyers Club.''
"Yesterday I was doing jury duty, today I woke up with an Academy Award nomination,'' said Leto. "Only in America.''
Martin Scorsese's "The Wolf of Wall Street,'' a nearly three-hour Wall Street extravaganza of money, sex and drugs, landed big nominations: best picture, best actor (DiCaprio), best director (Scorsese, his eighth for directing) and best supporting actor (Jonah Hill).
Also doing well Thursday were Spike Jonze's futuristic romance "Her'' (five nominations, including best original screenplay for Jonze) and Alexander Payne's black-and-white road trip "Nebraska'' (six nominations, including best director for Payne).
One of the day's biggest winners was the 27-year-old producer Megan Ellison, the daughter of billionaire Larry Ellison. Her Annapurna Pictures produced two of the best-picture nominees (''American Hustle'' and "Her'') as well as Chinese-born Wong Kar-Wai's martial arts drama "The Grandmaster.'' She celebrated by tweeting "17!'' - the total nominations her films received.
"American Hustle'' has ridden a wave of enthusiasm for its manic performances, all draped in `70s style. It's a success for director David O. Russell (who received his third directing nomination) just a year after his "Silver Linings Playbook'' was had eight Oscar nominations, with Jennifer Lawrence winning. She was again nominated for "Hustle.''
The global box-office hit "Gravity'' emerged Thursday thanks partly to its strength in technical categories like cinematography, production design, editing and visual effects.
Cuaron's innovative depiction of being lost in space has been praised for reinvigorating the spectacle of the big-screen experience. Having taken in more than $670 million worldwide, it's easily the most popular of the best-picture nominees.
Though historically the most-nominated films have taken home the best picture award, that's not been the case in recent years. Six of the last 10 years the most-nominated film hasn't won in the end, including last year when Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln,'' with 12 nominations, was beaten by Ben Affleck's "Argo.''
This year's Oscar telecast, with Ellen DeGeneres hosting for the second time, has pressure on it to live up to the increasingly popular Golden Globes. With hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, ratings for the Globes have increased the last two years and drawn good reviews. The Academy Awards have struggled to freshen up its more prestigious brand.