The Abscam scandal crime caper American Hustle and 3D space saga Gravity lead the race for the 86th annual Academy Awards, Hollywood's top film honour.

Thor and Rush star Chris Hemsworth joined Cheryl Boone Isaacs, president of the U.S. Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, to reveal the Oscar contenders Thursday.

American Hustle, a disco-era conman tale, and Gravity, which follows an astronaut adrift in space, each nabbed 10 nominations — with both included in the coveted best-picture category.

Dallas Buyers Club, Canadian director Jean-Marc Vallée's indie drama about scrappy, HIV-positive, alternative medicine champion Ron Woodroof, is also up for best picture.

Other nominees are:

  • 12 Years a Slave, the story of a free black man forced into slavery.
  • Somali pirates kidnap thriller Captain Phillips.
  • Unusual, futuristic romance Her.
  • Father-son road-trip drama Nebraska.
  • Philomena, a heartfelt comedy-drama about a woman's search for the child she was forced to give up.
  • The Wolf of Wall Street, a dark comedy-drama about the rise of a debauched broker.

With the exception of Gravity, Her and Nebraska, the remaining best picture nominees are all based on true stories.

Canadians in the spotlight

Today's Oscar nods are "a beautiful way" to conclude the Dallas Buyers Club adventure, Vallée said in a statement issued shortly after the morning announcement.

"My collaborators and I have had an amazing time making this film ... Today we all share a collective sense of pride as we have had the opportunity to spotlight a part of history that's both beautiful and sometimes painful to remember, and been able to tell a story which has touched the hearts of many."

'It's unreal, it feels very unreal'- Martin Pensa, editing co-nominee for Dallas Buyers Club

Though Vallée was shut out of best-director contention, his movie earned six nominations overall.

In addition to best picture and acting kudos for co-stars Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto, the film is up for best makeup and hairstyling, original screenplay and film editing.

Montrealer Martin Pensa is listed as sharing the editing nomination with John Mac McMurphy.

On Thursday afternoon, the Academy confirmed to CBC News that McMurphy is a pseudonym for Vallée himself.

"It's unreal, it feels very unreal ... I'm super happy for sure: it's incredible," Pensa, who also worked with Vallée on Café de Flore and now again with the upcoming Wild, told The Canadian Press earlier Thursday.

"I didn't know about the editing [nomination]. I called [Vallée to offer] my congratulations for best picture and the actors and the screenplay," Pensa added. "He had to tell me."

Other Canadian nominees include Toronto composer, musician and singer Owen Pallett (who performs as Final Fantasy). He shares a nomination with Montreal-based Arcade Fire member William Butler for their work on the original score of Spike Jonze's film Her.

Montreal-based Brit Chris Lawrence of visual effects firm Framestore, who served as computer graphics supervisor on Gravity, shares in the nomination for the eye-popping space thriller's visual effects. Meanwhile, Toronto-born Andy Koyama shares in the best sound-mixing nomination for Navy SEALs tale Lone Survivor.

Foreign-language film nominee Omar's team of three producers includes Berlin-based Canadian David Gerson.

Streep, Dern among vets nominated

The best-actress category was widely predicted, with a strong field: Amy Adams as an ambitious grifter in American Hustle, Cate Blanchett as Blue Jasmine's downward spiralling socialite, Sandra Bullock's imperiled astronaut in Gravity, Judi Dench as woman in search of her long-lost son in Philomena and Meryl Streep's domineering matriarch in August: Osage County.

Similarly, the best-actor contenders have all been widely praised for their performances: American Hustle's lead conman Christian Bale, Bruce Dern's cantankerous patriarch in Nebraska, Leonardo DiCaprio's bombastic broker in The Wolf of Wall Street, Chiwetel Ejiofor's imprisoned free man in 12 Years a Slave and McConaughey's ailing but scrappy cowboy in Dallas Buyers Club.

Other key nominees include:

  • Director: David O Russell, American Hustle; Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity; Alexander Payne, Nebraska; Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave; Martin Scorsese, The Wolf of Wall Street.
  • Supporting actor: Barkhad Abdi, Captain Phillips; Bradley Cooper, American Hustle; Michael Fassbender, 12 Years a Slave; Jonah Hill, The Wolf of Wall Street; Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club.
  • Supporting actress: Sally Hawkins, Blue Jasmine; Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle; Lupita Nyong'o, 12 Years a Slave; Julia Roberts, August: Osage County; June Squibb, Nebraska.
  • Adapted screenplay: Before Midnight; Captain Phillips; Philomena; 12 Years a Slave; The Wolf of Wall Street.
  • Original screenplay: American Hustle; Blue Jasmine; Dallas Buyers Club; Her; Nebraska.
  • Animated feature: The Croods; Despicable Me 2; Ernest & Celestine; Frozen; The Wind Rises.
  • Documentary feature: The Act of Killing; Cutie and the Boxer; Dirty Wars; The Square; 20 Feet from Stardom.
  • Foreign-language film: The Broken Circle Breakdown; The Great Beauty; The Hunt; The Missing Picture; Omar.

Oscar snubs

With the majority of categories limited to five nominees, there are always films and filmmakers left out of contention.

Toronto filmmaker Sarah Polley, who had been considered a strong contender for her documentary feature Stories We Tell, failed to make the final list of nominees.

Praised performances by actors such as Robert Redford (All is Lost), Tom Hanks (Captain Phillips), Emma Thompson (Saving Mr. Banks) and Daniel Bruhl (Rush) failed to earn nods.

Meanwhile, highly touted movies such as Lee Daniels's The Butler, the Coen brothers' Inside Llewyn Davis, Madiba biopic Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom and the indie drama Fruitvale Station also missed out on nods in major categories.

Some industry watchers had expected a posthumous acting nomination for James Gandolfini's tender performance opposite Julia Louis-Dreyfus in the acclaimed romantic comedy Enough Said, but it didn't materialize.

​The Oscars are the culmination of the annual movie awards season.

The star-studded, lengthy televised gala will be broadcast live to more than 200 countries and is typically watched by more than 30 million people.

Hosted by Ellen DeGeneres, the 86th Academy Awards show is Sunday, March 2, at the Dolby Theater in Los Angeles and will air live on ABC.

Oscar trophy

The Oscars are the world's best-known movie honours, with the annual awards show broadcast live to more than 200 countries and typically watched by more than 30 million people each year. (Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

With files from The Canadian Press