A still from 'The Joker.' (Warner Bros./File)
Dark comic book tale "Joker" topped the Oscar nominations Monday, picking up 11 nods including best picture and best director, as women and ethnic minorities were largely shut out once again.
The pre-dawn Academy Award announcement capped months of ceaseless campaigning by A-listers and studios, revealing which stars and movies have a shot at Hollywood's ultimate prize next month.
Todd Phillips's "Joker," a bleak, arthouse origin story about Batman's nemesis starring Joaquin Phoenix, was just ahead of three films.
Quentin Tarantino's 1960s Tinseltown homage "Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood," Sam Mendes's World War I odyssey "1917" and Martin Scorsese's "The Irishman" each earned 10 nominations, including best picture and director.
South Korean class satire "Parasite," from Bong Joon-ho, secured the final best director slot, meaning once again no women made the shortlist.
Much of the focus so far this award season has been on the lack of female and ethnic minority filmmakers honored.
The acclaimed "Little Women" was acknowledged in several of the major categories, including best picture, but Greta Gerwig was snubbed for best director, in a repeat of her disappointing omission from the Golden Globes.
"Unfortunately there are just five nominees" for best director in an "incredibly strong year," one Academy voter who asked not to be named told AFP.
"I don't think it's a vote against female directors," he added.
In the history of the Oscars, only five women have been nominated for best director -- including Gerwig, for 2017's "Lady Bird."
'#OscarsSoWhite Part 2'
"Little Women" acting nominee Florence Pugh told Variety she was "happy that everybody is upset" over Gerwig's snub.
"Congratulations to those men," actress and writer Issa Rae, co-host of the official Oscars nominations announcement, said pointedly as she presented the Academy's picks.
In an industry criticized for its lack of diversity, the Oscars picked only one non-white acting nominee -- British star Cynthia Erivo, who plays US anti-slavery icon Harriet Tubman in "Harriet."
"This is more than a dream come true," said Erivo, who was also nominated for performing the movie's rousing anthem "Stand Up."
Notable snubs included Eddie Murphy for blaxploitation biopic "Dolemite Is My Name," Jennifer Lopez for "Hustlers," Awkwafina for "The Farewell" and Lupita Nyong'o for "Us."
Industry website Deadline Hollywood called Monday's nominations "basically #OscarsSoWhite Part 2: #OscarsSoWhiterAndWithMoreMen," referring to a hashtag begun in 2015 in response to the lack of diverse nominees.
Last year, three of the four acting Oscars went to non-white performers.
But in a possible sign of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' increasingly international outlook, "Parasite" became just the sixth non-English language movie nominated for both best international feature and best picture.
And the Academy pointed to a record number of female nominees overall, at 62.
The figure includes movie producers, documentary makers and technical categories such as best musical score, where Icelandic maestro Hildur Gudnadottir became the ninth woman nominated.
Obamas 'so thrilled'
Robert De Niro was the biggest star overlooked in the best actor category for "The Irishman," although Scorsese's nod makes him the most-nominated living director at the Oscars, with nine nods.
"The Irishman" helped Netflix to 24 nominations -- the first time it has ever topped the studio count.
Adam Sandler shrugged off his omission for playing a compulsive New York jeweler, joking that he would no longer have to campaign for the acclaimed "Uncut Gems."
"Bad news: Sandman gets no love from the Academy," he tweeted. "Good news: Sandman can stop wearing suits."
Acting frontrunners Renee Zellweger and Phoenix headed the Oscar shortlists for their star turns in Judy Garland drama "Judy" and "Joker" respectively.
Documentary "American Factory" -- which follows a US Rust Belt factory reopened by a Chinese billionaire -- picked up a nomination for its well-known producers.
"It's the kind of story we don't see often enough and it's exactly what Michelle and I hope to achieve," tweeted former US president Barack Obama, adding he was "glad" to see the nomination.
"So thrilled," wrote Michelle Obama.
Some 9,000 Academy members vote for the Oscars. Voting for winners begins January 30, closing five days later.
The Oscars will be handed out in Hollywood on February 9.
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