Ellen Page in Juno by Doane Gregory/Fox Searchlight
Sid Ganis, president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and actress Kathy Bates have just announced the major Oscar nominations for last year's films, and for my money there are some real surprises among them.

The critically acclaimed comedy Juno - which is also doing strong business - has been recognized in a major way, especially surprising since traditionally comedies often get short shrift in the major categories. Written by first-time screenwriter Diablo Cody, starring up-and-coming Canadian actress Ellen Page and directed by Jason Reitman, it took a best-picture nomination, and major category recognition for the key players: a best-actress nom for Page, original screenplay for Cody and director for Reitman.

Tommy Lee Jones nabbed a best-actor nomination for the sober Iraq War picture In the Valley of Elah, directed and written by 2005 Oscar-winner Paul Haggis ( Crash) and ignored in all other categories; like every other fiction film dealing with the Iraq War that opened last year, it sank without a trace at the box office. Critical reaction was mixed, leaning to the positive for this sober stateside murder mystery in which bereaved father Jones investigates the murder of his son, newly returned from a tour of duty.

" Oscar Surprises, Part 2: Blanchett, Mortensen, Hal Holbrook and More
" Oscar Surprises, Part 3: The Films That Made Out Big. Plus: Foreign Invasion!