After weeks of speculation, 2009's crop of Oscar nominees turned out to be about as predictable—and many would say boring—as could be.

After a rather unusual year at the movies, and with ratings for the Oscar telecast in steady decline, many predicted that the Academy would finally open its doors for a Best Picture nomination for a superhero movie and/or an animated film—The Dark Knight or Wall*E, both wildly successful at the box office and with critics. A nomination for crowd-pleasing, populist movies like these was said by some to be a chance for Oscar to give himself a much-needed shot in the arm, but, with the nominees announced earlier this morning, it seems that the Academy voters ended up sticking with more traditional Oscar contenders.

This year's Best Picture candidates include The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Frost/Nixon, Milk, The Reader, and the heavily favored winner, Slumdog Millionaire. The inclusion of The Reader—a British film that received mixed reviews—is one of the season's big surprises, as it ousted not only Dark Knight and Wall*E, but other favored pictures like Doubt.

The nominations for Best Director follow the Best Picture nominees exactly, with each of those five movies also earning a nod for its director. Slumdog's Danny Boyle is the favorite in this category, as well.

In all, Benjamin Button received a whopping 13 nominations, while Slumdog received 10. The awards ceremony will be telecast live on February 22.

The Dark Knight received eight nominations, but the only significant nod went to the late Heath Ledger (as the Joker) in the Best Supporting Actor category.

Best Actor nominees include The Visitor's Richard Jenkins, Frost/Nixon's Frank Langhella, Milk's Sean Penn, Benjamin Button's Brad Pitt, and the much-touted underdog, Mickey Rourke, for his work in The Wrestler. Supporting Actor nominations include Ledger for The Dark Knight, Josh Brolin for Milk, Robert Downey, Jr. for Tropic Thunder—another big surprise—Philip Seymour Hoffman for Doubt, and Michael Shannon for Revolutionary Road.

Meanwhile, Best Actress kudos go to Anne Hathaway for Rachel Getting Married, Angelina Jolie for Changeling, Melissa Leo for Frozen River, Meryl Streep for Doubt, and Kate Winslet for The Reader—despite the fact that the Golden Globes counted this performance in the "supporting" category, and her work in Revolutionary Road was largely considered to be the more likely nomination. Supporting Actress nominees include Amy Adams for Doubt, Penelope Cruz for Vicky Christina Barcelona, Viola Davis for Doubt, Taraji P. Henson for Benjamin Button, and Marisa Tomei for The Wrestler.

Wall*E, though shut out of the Best Picture category, was among the three films nominated for Best Animated Feature, along with Bolt and Kung Fu Panda. Peter Gabriel was also honored for his song "Down to Earth," which played over Wall*E's end credits.

Aside from the nod for Ledger, The Dark Knight was only honored in technical categories, including Cinematography, Art Direction, Film Editing, and the sound and visual effects categories.

Clint Eastwood and his film Gran Torino were snubbed completely.

And as it is commonly observed that the Best Picture winner is almost always the winner—or at least a nominee—in the Film Editing category, Oscar prognosticators might note that, of the five Best Picture nominees, only one—The Reader—is not also included in the Film Editing camp, its spot being taken by The Dark Knight.

On a lighter note, the awful Mike Myers comedy The Love Guru picked up seven nominations for the Razzies, which annually "honor" the year's worst movies and performances.

Copyright © 2009 Josh Hurst, subject to licensing agreement with Christianity Today International. Click for reprint information.