Dark comedy "Birdman" and stylish crime caper "The Grand Budapest Hotel" topped the Oscars nominations list Thursday with nine each, firing the starting gun on the home stretch of Hollywood's awards race.
But as the nominated actors and filmmakers celebrated, Twitter users raged over the lack of diversity in the Academy Awards shortlists, with actors of color shut out and women filmmakers also largely overlooked.
Behind "Birdman" and "The Grand Budapest Hotel" in the nominations race was World War II code-breaking thriller "The Imitation Game," with eight nominations.
Clint Eastwood's "American Sniper" -- based on a true story -- and coming-of-age drama "Boyhood" -- filmed with the same actors over a period of 12 years -- each earned six nods.
The five films were all shortlisted for best picture, along with US civil rights drama "Selma," Stephen Hawking biopic "The Theory of Everything" and jazz drumming indie hit "Whiplash."
The golden statuettes will be handed out on February 22 at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood.
- Happy 'Birdman' flock -
"Birdman" had been one of the favorites going into Thursday's announcement, with a groundswell of support for star Michael Keaton, who plays a washed-up superhero film star trying to revive his career on stage.
Keaton took home a Golden Globe at the weekend for his work, giving an emotional acceptance speech.
"I am very happy for the whole 'Birdman' flock because it took a lot of courage to make this film out of conventions," said director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, himself one of the nominees.
Wes Anderson, whose "Grand Budapest Hotel" had surprised many with its Globes win for best comedy/musical film over "Birdman," said: "We feel very deeply honored and thrilled and, frankly, very, very pleased with ourselves all around."
For best actor, Keaton and Britain's Eddie Redmayne, another Globes winner who portrayed Hawking in "The Theory of Everything" -- are up against Steve Carell ("Foxcatcher"), Bradley Cooper ("American Sniper") and Benedict Cumberbatch ("The Imitation Game").
It is Cooper's third acting nomination in as many years.
The best actress race includes two former Oscar winners -- Marion Cotillard for "Two Days, One Night" and "Wild" star Reese Witherspoon.
They will compete against Globes winner Julianne Moore ("Still Alice"), along with two British actresses and first-time nominees -- Felicity Jones ("The Theory of Everything") and Rosamund Pike ("Gone Girl").
Inarritu and Anderson are both in the best director race along with Richard Linklater for "Boyhood," Bennett Miller for "Foxcatcher" and Morten Tyldum for "The Imitation Game."
Three-time Oscar winner Meryl Streep meanwhile extended her record lead in nominations, scoring her 19th nod -- this time for best supporting actress for musical fairytale romp "Into The Woods."
- #OscarsSoWhite -
There were of course notable absentees from the nominations list.
All of the 20 nominees in the four acting categories are white -- several commentators lamented that David Oyelowo, the Briton who played Martin Luther King Jr in best picture nominee "Selma", was overlooked.
The hashtag #OscarsSoWhite quickly trended on Twitter.
Women filmmakers were also largely left out, with "Selma" director Ava DuVernay and "Gone Girl" screenwriter Gillian Flynn widely cited as among the most shocking snubs.
Cheryl Boone Isaacs, the first African American head of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, was at pains to defend the choices of the Academy's 6,000-plus members.
"Not at all. Not at all," she told entertainment website Vulture, when asked if the nominations reflected a lack of diversity.
"The good news is that the wealth of talent is there, and it's being discussed, and it's helpful so much for talent -- whether in front of the camera or behind the camera -- to have this recognition."
Another notable snub was for "Friends" star Jennifer Aniston, who had been tipped for her role in gritty drama "Cake."
"The Lego Movie" -- one of the biggest critical and commercial successes of the year -- failed to win a best animated film nomination.
One of its co-directors, Philip Lord, responded by tweeting a picture of an Oscar made from the iconic building bricks.
"It's OK. Made my own!" he wrote.
Angelina Jolie's World War II real-life drama "Unbroken" -- her second directing foray -- secured three nominations, but none of them were in the major categories.
- Wide-open race -
Voting for the 87th Oscars starts on February 6 and closes on February 17.
This year's crop of hotly-tipped movies is heavy on true stories: several of the films on the Oscars best picture shortlist were based on real-life events.
Among the historical figures depicted in those films are King ("Selma"), astrophysicist Hawking ("The Theory of Everything") and British mathematician Alan Turing ("The Imitation Game").
Tim Gray, awards editor at industry journal Variety, told AFP that this year's race is more open that recent years.
"Last year, there were two frontrunners -- '12 Years a Slave' and 'Gravity'. This year, there are, like, five frontrunners," Gray said.
"I honestly don't know at this point what's going to win in most categories, which makes it interesting."