"Birdman," subtitled "The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance" -- which led to many multisyllabic mouthfuls during the Oscar announcements -- stars Michael Keaton as a former superhero actor trying to revive his career and his life by mounting a Broadway play.
It earned nominations for best picture, best actor for Keaton, director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, supporting actor (Edward Norton), supporting actress (Emma Stone), original screenplay and cinematography, as well as some technical nods.
Others receiving nominations for best picture are "American Sniper," "Boyhood," "The Imitation Game," "The Theory of Everything," "Selma," "The Grand Budapest Hotel" and "Whiplash."
The rush of honors for "Budapest," about the denizens of a European hotel in the years between the world wars, was somewhat unexpected, though the film had won best comedy/musical at the Golden Globes (defeating "Birdman," among others). The film was nominated for best picture and director (Wes Anderson), along with original screenplay, cinematography, score and a host of other awards.
"The Imitation Game" received eight nominations. The drama stars Benedict Cumberbatch as British mathematician Alan Turing, who helped break the Germans' Enigma coding machine in World War II and was a pioneer of computer science.
Cumberbatch earned a best actor nomination to go along with the film's nods for picture, director (Morten Tyldum) and supporting actress (Keira Knightley).
"Boyhood," which won the Golden Globe for best drama, also performed well, earning six nods. Director Richard Linklater picked up a nomination, as did supporting performers Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette. The movie follows the maturation of a child over 12 years and was filmed for a week or two each year so that audiences could see the actors age in real time.
A number of favorites were left off various lists. Though civil rights drama "Selma" did get a best picture nomination, actor David Oyelowo was snubbed despite earning raves for his nuanced portrait of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Director Ava DuVernay, who would have been the first African-American woman to receive a best director nomination, was also overlooked.
Jennifer Aniston had received a Golden Globe best actress nomination for "Cake," and had been widely expected to get her first Oscar nomination. But she didn't make the list.
Critical and commercial hit "Gone Girl," adapted from the best-seller, did earn a best actress nomination for Rosamund Pike, but struck out in all other major categories.
And then there were the lack of nominations for "The Lego Movie," one of the biggest hits of the year both with critics and audiences. Widely seen as a favorite among animated films and a possibility for original screenplay, it earned just one nomination, for best song ("Everything Is Awesome").
The nominees for best animated feature are "Big Hero 6," "How to Train Your Dragon 2," "The Boxtrolls," "The Song of the Sea" and "The Tale of Princess Kaguya."
On the other hand, though "Foxcatcher" missed out for best picture, the tragic story of a du Pont heir and two wrestling brothers scored in a number of other categories, including director, actor (Steve Carell), supporting actor (Mark Ruffalo) and adapted screenplay.
Also exceeding expectations: "American Sniper," director Clint Eastwood's film based on the life of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle. It earned nominations for best picture, actor (Bradley Cooper) and adapted screenplay.
Glen Campbell picked up a nomination for best song, "I'm Not Gonna Miss You," from the documentary "Glen Campbell: I'll Be Me." The musician is suffering from Alzheimer's, a battle depicted in the film.
And though not really a surprise -- she's been here many, many times before -- Meryl Streep earned her 19th acting nomination Thursday morning. This one was for best supporting actress for her performance as the Witch in "Into the Woods." Streep was the movie's bright spot among the major categories, as "Woods" missed out on a best picture nomination.
The announcements of the nominees drew some inadvertent laughs when Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs mispronounced the name of cinematographer Dick Pope, nominated for his work on "Mr. Turner," as "Dick Poop." The malaprop quickly became a Twitter meme.
The 87th Academy Awards will take place Sunday, February 22, at Hollywood's Dolby Theatre. Neil Patrick Harris will host. The show airs on ABC.