BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. -- The romantic fantasy "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" led Academy Awards contenders Thursday with 13 nominations, among them best picture and acting honors for Brad Pitt and Taraji P. Henson, and a directing slot for David Fincher.
As expected, Heath Ledger had a supporting-actor nomination for "The Dark Knight" on the one-year anniversary of his death from an accidental overdose of prescription drugs. But the Batman blockbuster was shut out for other top categories such as best picture and director.
The acting categories were loaded with surprises. Kate Winslet won two Golden Globes, best dramatic actress for "Revolutionary Road" and supporting actress for "The Reader." But she was nominated for lead actress at the Oscars for "The Reader" and shut out for "Revolutionary Road."
Actors considered longshots also sneaked in, among lead-actor nominee Richard Jenkins for "The Visitor," best-actress contender Melissa Leo for "Frozen River" and supporting-actor pick Michael Shannon for "Revolutionary Road."
But perhaps the biggest surprise overall was the so-so results for "The Dark Knight," which had been picking up momentum as one Hollywood trade guild after another picked it as one of the year's best films.
The largest blockbuster in years, "The Dark Knight" had eight nominations, but other than Ledger's honor, its scored only in technical categories such as cinematography, visual effects and editing.
Complete list of 81st annual Academy Award nominations announced Thursday:
Adapted Screenplay: Eric Roth and Robin Swicord, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" John Patrick Shanley, "Doubt" Peter Morgan, "Frost/Nixon" David Hare, "The Reader" Simon Beaufoy, "Slumdog Millionaire"
Original Song: "Down to Earth" from "Wall-E," Peter Gabriel and Thomas Newman "Jai Ho" from "Slumdog Millionaire," A.R. Rahman and Gulzar "O Saya" from "Slumdog Millionaire," A.R. Rahman and Maya Arulpragasam
Documentary (short subject): "The Conscience of Nhem En" "The Final Inch" "Smile Pinki" "The Witness -- From the Balcony of Room 306"
Animated Short Film: "La Maison en Petits Cubes" "Lavatory -- Lovestory" "Oktapodi" "Presto" "This Way Up"
Live Action Short Film: "Auf der Strecke (On the Line)" "Manon on the Asphalt" "New Boy" "The Pig" "Spielzeugland (Toyland)"
Academy Award winner previously announced this year: Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award (Oscar statuette): Jerry Lewis