Los Angeles - 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 take on the comic book villain 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 as well as best director.
South Korean class satire Parasite, from Bong Joon-ho, secured the final best director slot, meaning once again no female directors made the shortlist.
Much of the focus so far this award season has been on the lack of women and ethnic minority filmmakers honored.
Greta Gerwig's acclaimed Little Women adaptation has been notably absent in several award nominations announcements, although it was one of nine films nominated for the best picture Oscar.
"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, pointing to the revered track records of the likes of Scorsese, Tarantino and Mendes.
Controversy over those omissions, in an industry criticized for its lack of diversity, was fueled at last week's BAFTA nominations, which were also condemned for overlooking ethnic minorities.
The Oscars picked only one non-white actor - British star Cynthia Erivo, who plays US anti-slavery icon Harriet Tubman in Harriet.
Last year, three of the four acting Oscars went to non-white performers.
Voting for Oscar nominees ended last Tuesday, two days after the Golden Globes.
But Taron Egerton's Globe-winning turn as Elton John in Rocketman was not enough to earn an Oscar nomination in an outrageously competitive best actor field.
Renée Zellweger, who has swept the best actress nominations so far during this awards season, headed the best actress Oscar shortlist thanks to her acclaimed turn as showbiz legend Judy Garland in Judy.
Some 9 000 Academy members vote for the Oscars.
In the nominations round of voting, members were asked to rank their top choices only for best picture, and for the categories corresponding with the specific Academy branch to which they belong.
Voting for winners - in which members can vote in every category - begins 30 January, closing five days later.
The Oscars will be handed out in Hollywood on 9 February.