With five blacks, two Hispanics and an Asian, it was the most ethnically diverse lineup ever among the 20 acting nominees. After decades in which the Oscars were a virtual whites-only club, with minority actors only occasionally breaking into the field, the awards have featured a much broader mix of nominees in the last few years.
Black actors in particular have come into their own, with Oscar wins by Halle Berry, Denzel Washington, Jamie Foxx and Morgan Freeman, and three of the four acting front-runners this year.
Asians and Hispanics still lag behind, though nominations for Penelope Cruz, Adriana Barraza and Rinko Kikuchi are signs that Hollywood is making strides toward greater diversity.
While Cruz's "Volver," from Spanish director and past Oscar darling Pedro Almodovar, was shut out for foreign-language picture, another Hispanic film scored well. Mexican director Guillermo del Toro's "Pan's Labyrinth" had six nominations, including foreign-language film, screenplay, cinematography and score.
"If each one of them got nominated on their own, that would be great, but the fact that they all did ... that's just too much for one little girl this early in the morning," said Salma Hayek, an Oscar nominee for 2002's "Frida," who helped announced the nominees this morning.
Mexican filmmaker Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu earned a best-director nomination for "Babel."