BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. – "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" (search) reigned supreme at the Academy Awards nominations Tuesday, with a leading 11 nods including best picture and best director for Peter Jackson.
Aside from the fantasy epic's nominations, which were somewhat expected, the normally staid Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences stirred things up with several surprising Oscar nods and snubs.
"Cold Mountain," which was considered a shoo-in, was left out of the best picture category. The film's director Anthony Minghella and lead actress Nicole Kidman (search) also failed to get nominated.
However in a surprising show of support, the sea adventure "Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World" was right behind "Rings" with 10 nominations, among them best picture and director for Peter Weir. The film's star Russell Crowe, however, did not get an acting nod.
Some shockers among the best acting nominations were Johnny Depp (search) for his role in "Pirates of the Caribbean," Naomi Watts (search) for "21 Grams," Keisha Castle-Hughes (search) for "Whale Rider" and Samantha Morton as an Irish immigrant in "In America."
Besides "Return of the King" and "Master and Commander," other best-picture nominees included "Lost in Translation," about two lonely Americans in Tokyo; the murder thriller "Mystic River" and the horse-racing drama "Seabiscuit."
"Return of the King" also got nods for original score and song, visual effects, film editing and adapted screenplay for the script based on J.R.R. Tolkien's fantasy classic.
"King" led Sunday's Golden Globes with four wins, including best dramatic picture and director. If it wins the Oscar for best picture, it will be the first fantasy film to get the trophy.
Besides Jackson and Weir, the directing nominees included Clint Eastwood (search) for "Mystic River," surprise choice Fernando Meirelles for the Brazilian film "City of God" and Sofia Coppola (search) for "Lost in Translation."
Coppola is only the third woman ever nominated for best director. The previous nominees were Lina Wertmuller for 1976's "Seven Beauties" and Jane Campion for 1993's "The Piano." Both lost.
Coppola, the daughter of Francis Ford Coppola, also earned an original-screenplay nomination for "Lost in Translation."
"Cold Mountain" did get seven nominations, among them best actor for Jude Law as a Confederate deserter and best supporting actress for Renee Zellweger as a no-nonsense Confederate woman. She took home the Golden Globe for that role.
Along with Law and Depp, other best actor nominees were Ben Kingsley as an Iranian immigrant fighting for possession of a home in "House of Sand and Fog," Murray as a has-been actor shooting a commercial in Japan in "Lost in Translation" and Penn, widely considered the favorite, playing as an ex-hoodlum out for revenge over his daughter's death in "Mystic River."
Besides Castle-Hughes, Morton and Watts, the best actress nominees included Golden Globe winners Keaton as a playwright who unexpectedly finds love later in life in "Something's Gotta Give" and Theron as real-life serial killer Aileen Wuornos in "Monster."
Contenders for supporting actor were Alec Baldwin as a sleazy casino owner in "The Cooler." Benicio Del Toro (search) as an ex-con trying to go straight in "21 Grams," Djimon Hounsou as a standoffish artist dying of AIDS in "In America," Tim Robbins as a man tormented by childhood abuse in "Mystic River" and Ken Watanabe (search) as a samurai battling Western influences in "The Last Samurai."
Besides Zellweger, supporting actress nominees were Shohreh Aghdashloo as a compassionate Iranian immigrant in "House of Sand and Fog," Patricia Clarkson as an acerbic mother coping with breast cancer in "Pieces of April," Marcia Gay Harden (search) as a suspicious wife in "Mystic River" and Holly Hunter (search) as a single mom trying to rein in her defiant daughter in "thirteen."
The 76th annual Oscar ceremony is set for Feb. 29, about three weeks earlier than in previous years.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.