And there were ten.

It seems kind of strange to say that, right? Ten Best Picture nominees? We knew it was coming for nearly a year, but now it's actually there. In Black and white. Ten nominees. Strange.

After seeing the list, it's easy to see that the Academy might be on to something. Sure, it would have gotten the biggest blockbuster of all time with "Avatar" earning a Best Picture nomination if there were only five nominees, but it would have missed out on other massive hits like "The Blind Side", "Up", and "District 9".

Now, the telecast is going to get a lot more casual viewers. Not to be demographicist, but it's pretty certain that a lot of the people who flocked to "The Blind Side" aren't avid moviegoers and probably don't care about the red carpet fashion. Now they finally get some incentive to watch the big show.

Of course, this also cheapens the prestige of being nominated for Best Picture, but this morning it's certain ABC is counting up its Ad dollars.
And now, with interest piqued, it's time to play everyone's favorite Oscar nominee game - Surprise, Snub, and Shouldn't Be Nominated!

Best Actor

The Nominees:
Jeff Bridges, "Crazy Heart"
George Clooney, "Up in the Air"
Colin Firth, "A Single Man"
Morgan Freeman, "Invictus"
Jeremy Renner, "The Hurt Locker."

Surprise: No surprise here, each nominee was a mortal lock for the last month.

Snub: No surprise, ipso facto, no snub. This column is just writing itself.

Shouldn't Be Nominated: All right, time for some onions. These are five solid performances, but Bridges is the worst of the bunch. His washed-up country singer was nothing different than we've seen in hundreds of similar movies with the hackneyed script to match. There really isn't anything to make the performance stand out. It isn't even in the top ten of Bridges career.

Best Actress

The Nominees:
Sandra Bullock, "The Blind Side"
Helen Mirren, "The Last Station"
Carey Mulligan, "An Education"
Gabourey Sidibe, "Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire"
Meryl Streep, "Julie & Julia."

Surprise: Again, no surprise here. Come on, Academy! Show us some shockers.

Snub: It was a longshot, but there was hope the Weinsteins could push Melanie Laurent in for her sterling work in "Inglorious Basterds". This performance would have been the best of the bunch, with Laurent's steadily controlling her character, showing us the mask she must wear as a Jew in Nazi German with melancholy heartbreak throughout. The poise she showed only made her final explosion more jarring. Alas, she doesn't even get a chance.

Shouldn't Be Nominated: Two categories, two favorites, two undeserving nominees. Sure, Sandra Bullock was fine, but an okay accent, different hair color and icy stare gets an Oscar Nomination these days? Please.

Best Supporting Actor

The Nominees:
Matt Damon, "Invictus"
Woody Harrelson, "The Messenger"
Christopher Plummer, "The Last Station"
Stanley Tucci, "The Lovely Bones"
Christoph Waltz, "Inglourious Basterds."

Surprise: Again, no surprises - this syncs up exactly with the SAG nominations. Sheesh.

Snub: It looked for awhile that Christian McKay might sweep in for his spot on portrayal of the genius madness that was a young Orson Welles. He had the momentum, but never quite got enough going to lock up the fifth slot.

Shouldn't Be Nominated: This isn't so much an indictment of his performance as much as it is absentee voting. It's very unlikely anybody in the Academy actually saw "The Last Station", meaning people just voted for Plummer on principle - this is his first Oscar nomination. Sure, he's a legend, but wouldn't it be best to nominate people for performances rather than careers?

Best Supporting Actress

The Nominees:
Penelope Cruz, "Nine"
Vera Farmiga, "Up in the Air"
Maggie Gyllenhaal, "Crazy Heart"
Anna Kendrick, "Up in the Air"
Mo'nique, "Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire."

Surprise: Finally, a surprise! And it was an absolute shock. Maggie Gyllenhaal won, or was nominated for, the exact same number of Oscar Precursors in this category that I was. Needless to say, that wasn't very many. It isn't often (like, it never happens) that someone makes an Oscar nomination their first awards notice of the year.

Snub: Poor Julianne Moore. She's been in kind of any abyss for the last five years as she's been stuck in movies like "Blindness" and that thing with Anthony Edwards and aliens. Finally, she lands a plum role, plenty of buzz, and she ends up with. . .no Oscar nomination. Just when the career was getting back on track.

Best Director
James Cameron, "Avatar"
Kathryn Bigelow, "The Hurt Locker"
Quentin Tarantino, "Inglourious Basterds"
Lee Daniels, "Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire"
Jason Reitman, "Up in the Air."

Surprise: No shocks here, these are the same nominees as the DGA Awards.

Snub: It looks like the shine has worn off the cult of Clint Eastwood. After locking down a Golden Globe nomination, he seemed well on his way to yet another Oscar nomination in this category. Instead, he gets snubbed for the second straight year (though last year was for Best Actor).

Shouldn't Be Nominated: This is a cop out, but nobody on this list is undeserving. This is a very solid top five.

Best Picture
''The Blind Side,"
''District 9,"
''An Education,"
''The Hurt Locker,"
''Inglourious Basterds,"
''Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' By Sapphire,"
''A Serious Man,"
''Up in the Air." Daniel Dubiecki, Ivan Reitman and Jason Reitman, Producers

Surprise: The biggest shocker of the morning was "The Blind Side" being nominated for Best Picture. It, like Gyllenhaal, received a grand total of zero precursor awards or nominations this season. What it did get was a ton of box office, rave reviews from fans, and a massive amount of momentum on the heels of Sandra Bullock's Best Actress campaign. This was the exact type of out-of-left-field shock we were all hoping for with the switch to ten. Though Roger Ebert predicted it. Respect.

Snub: With a WGA and PGA nomination, the campaign for another fan favorite and massive money machine, "Star Trek", looked like it was ready to send the sci-fi franchise were it had never gone before - to the Oscars. Instead, it missed all the major awards, ending up with only a handful of technical noms.

Shouldn't Be Nominated: With ten nominees, there are obviously a lot of candidates undeserving of being considered for Best Picture, but the worst of the bunch is "An Education". Sure, this is a good movie, but it never quite takes hold. It keeps the audience at such a distance as it traipses around London and Paris, delighting in its tale while hinting at doom to come. It keeps building toward that climax very deliberately, but then nothing ever quite comes. It just sort of wilts under its own weight, petering out rather than offering a satisfactory payoff or any sort of thematic statement. This was a fine film, but fine shouldn't be enough to get earn a Best Picture nomination.

So, maybe this ten nominees thing isn't so great after all.

That's it for this round. Check back in a few weeks when we play everybody's other favorite game - Who Will Win and Who Should Win!

Story by Andrew Payne

Starpulse contributing writer