The film, starring Leonardo DiCaprio as a vengeful frontiersman left for dead after a bear attack, earned nominations for best picture, best director (Alejandro González Iñárritu), best actor (DiCaprio) and -- in a mild surprise -- best supporting actor (Tom Hardy).
Hardy's "Mad Max: Fury Road" also exercised some gasoline-fueled muscle. The postapocalyptic tale was second with 10 nominations, including picks for picture, director George Miller and editing.
"Spotlight," which has dominated critics' lists, received nominations for best picture, best director (Tom McCarthy), best supporting actor (Mark Ruffalo), best supporting actress (Rachel McAdams) and editing.
The Oscars may choose up to 10 films for best picture. This year, it went with eight: "The Revenant," "Mad Max," "Spotlight," "The Martian," "Brooklyn," "Room," "The Big Short" and "Bridge of Spies."
Big day for Stallone
The nominations were full of surprises.
Sylvester Stallone, 39 years after his acting nomination for "Rocky," was nominated again -- for "Creed," in which he plays the same character, Rocky Balboa. He's now one of just a handful of performers who have been nominated twice for the same role, and the distance between his movies is far and away the longest. Paul Newman had the previous mark -- 26 years -- for being nominated for playing Fast Eddie Felson in 1960's "The Hustler" and 1986's "The Color of Money."
Charlotte Rampling, who had never been nominated, earned her first nod for the film "45 Years."
And Jennifer Lawrence, despite mixed reviews for her work in "Joy," earned a nomination for best actress. It's the third straight year she's been nominated and fourth overall, making her the only person under 25 who's ever been nominated four times.
On the other hand, though "The Martian" did well -- earning nominations for best picture and best actor -- Ridley Scott was left off the directors' list. Scott, 78, has been nominated three times and never won.
Other notable names who missed out on nominations: screenwriter Aaron Sorkin, whose screenplay for "Steve Jobs" was overlooked; Quentin Tarantino, who received neither a directing nor a screenwriting nomination for "The Hateful Eight"; and Helen Mirren, who didn't make the cut for best supporting actress.
"Carol," the film about a lesbian relationship in 1950s New York, picked up acting nods for stars Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara but didn't receive nominations for picture or directing.
The nominees for best director are Iñárritu ("The Revenant"), McCarthy ("Spotlight"), Miller ("Mad Max: Fury Road"), Adam McKay ("The Big Short") and Lenny Abrahamson ("Room").
Like last year, there was an absence of performers of color. All 20 of the acting nominees are white. Once again, #OscarsSoWhite was trending on social media.
The nominees for best actor are DiCaprio ("The Revenant"), Matt Damon ("The Martian"), Michael Fassbender ("Steve Jobs"), Bryan Cranston ("Trumbo") and Eddie Redmayne ("The Danish Girl").
The nominees for best actress are Blanchett ("Carol"), Brie Larson ("Room"), Saoirse Ronan ("Brooklyn"), Lawrence ("Joy") and Rampling ("45 Years").
The nominees for best supporting actor are Christian Bale ("The Big Short"), Mark Ruffalo ("Spotlight"), Mark Rylance ("Bridge of Spies"), Stallone ("Creed") and Hardy ("The Revenant").
The nominees for best supporting actress are Mara ("Carol"), Kate Winslet ("Steve Jobs"), Jennifer Jason Leigh ("The Hateful Eight"), Rachel McAdams ("Spotlight") and Alicia Vikander ("The Danish Girl").
Blockbusters, little films
The Oscars have also faced criticism in recent years for focusing on art-house content over blockbusters. This year may hear some of the same chatter, as the only best picture nominees among 2015's top 20 hits were "Mad Max" and "The Martian."
On the other hand, such crowd-pleasing performers as Damon, Stallone, DiCaprio and Lawrence got selected in the performing categories.
"Star Wars: The Force Awakens" didn't get a nomination in a major category, but composer John Williams did for best score. It's his 50th nomination, extending his record as the most-nominated person alive. Only Walt Disney received more nominations; the studio founder had 59.
"Inside Out" was nominated for both animated feature and original screenplay. For the latter, it will compete against "Spotlight," "Ex Machina," "Bridge of Spies" and "Straight Outta Compton."
The other animated feature nominees are "Anomalisa," "Boy and the World," "Shaun the Sheep Movie" and "When Marnie Was There."
The nominees for best adapted screenplay are "Carol," "The Big Short," "The Martian," "Room" and "Brooklyn."
The Oscars will be held February 28 at Hollywood's Dolby Theatre. Chris Rock will host.