1. The best director category. Absolutely nobody predicted the remarkable triple snub of Kathryn Bigelow, Ben Affleck and Tom Hooper (not to mention Quentin Tarantino) in the best director category. Arguably the most notable news among the entire Oscar nomination list (particuarly Bigelow and Affleck's snubs, which likely left every Oscar prognosticator in the world's mouth gaping for a good few minutes), the best director category consisted of the expected Steven Spielberg and Ang Lee, but they were joined by David O. Russell (minor surprise), Michael Haneke (minor surprise) and Benh Zeitlin (huge shocker). Not since "Driving Miss Daisy" has a film won best picture without a director nod, suggesting it's "Lincoln," "Silver Linings" or "Life of Pi" for the win?
2. A general rejection of both the DGA and SAG Awards as reliable Oscar predictors. The Directors Guild and Screen Actors Guild award nominations took a big hit in terms of their reliability at predicting the Oscar nominations. With Bigelow, Affleck and Hooper out, only two (Lee and Spielberg) got both Oscar and DGA nominations. They usually go for four for five, and only once six times in history have the winners not lined up (most recently in 2002 when Roman Polanski won the Oscar over Rob Marshall). As for the SAG Awards, only 14 of the SAG nominees got one of the 20 Oscar acting noms (the previous two years it was 17, while the year before that it was 19). Replacing the snubbed likes of John Hawkes, Marion Cotillard, Helen Mirren, Javier Bardem, Nicole Kidman and Maggie Smith (all SAG nominees) were Quvenzhané Wallis, Emmanuelle Riva, Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams, Jacki Weaver and Christoph Waltz (over his "Django" co-star Leonardo DiCaprio). Weaver and Wallis both remarkably did so without SAG, Globe or BAFTA nominations.
4. "The Intouchables" snubbed in best foreign language film. Riva's "Amour" might have given French language film a huge boost with nominations for actress, picture, director, screenplay and foreign film (a truly impressive and deserved haul), pundits predicting it could actually lose the latter award to France's submission "The Intouchables" ("Amour" was submitted by Austria) are officially mistaken: It didn't even get nominated! Second to Bigelow and Affleck both being shut out, this was the morning's most shocking omission.
5. Joaquin Phoenix makes it after all... and it's John Hawkes who's out. There were six men vying for the five best actor slots, and only Daniel Day-Lewis seemed like an absolute lock. Most expected -- given his SAG snub and public statements against Oscar campaigning -- that Joaquin Phoenix would lose out for his work on "The Master." But he deservedly made it in, though at the unfortunate expense of John Hawkes (personally, I would have much preferred Hugh Jackman or Bradley Cooper missing out).