2012 Oscar Firsts

Mike Krumboltz
Coverage of The 84th Annual Academy Awards®

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced its nominees for the 84th Academy Awards. Michael Fassbender, who looked like a lock for "Shame," was shut out. "Extremly Loud and Incredibly Close" scored a nomination for best picture despite tepid reviews. And, perhaps most interestingly, the academy nominated only nine films for best picture. Below, we look at the reasons behind that decision, as well as a few other Oscar firsts and surprises.

[ Related: Full list of the nominees ]

Why only nine movies?
A few years ago, only five movies were given best-picture nominations. Then, it went to 10 movies. Why, this year, did the academy nominate nine for the first time ever? It has to do with the votes, of course. Under the new rules, a film has to get at least 5% of first-place votes in the nomination round to qualify for a best-picture nomination. According to New York Magazine's Vulture column, most Oscar experts predicted that the academy would nominate just seven films.

Another Streep first
Death, taxes, and a nomination for Meryl Streep. It was inevitable, but still worth noting. The celebrated actress earned her record 17th nomination, this time for her role as Margaret Thatcher in "The Iron Lady." She is the first to reach that record-setting number. The film hasn't earned stellar reviews, but that didn't matter when it came to giving a nomination to Streep.

In past years, Streep won for "Kramer vs. Kramer" and "Sophie's Choice." She's also been nominated for "Silkwood, "Out of Africa," "The Deer Hunter," "The French Lieutenant's Woman," "Ironweed," "A Cry in the Dark," "The Bridges of Madison County," "One True Thing," "Postcards From the Edge," "Music of the Heart," "Adaptation," "The Devil Wears Prada," "Doubt," and "Julie and Julia." So, yeah, in case you haven't heard, she's a pretty good actress.

[ Related: Academy Awards timeline at Oscar.com ]

Only two best-song nominees
For the first time, the academy nominated only two tunes for best original song. This year's nominees: "Man or Muppet" from "The Muppets" and "Real in RIO" from "Rio." Like the nomination process for best picture, the number of best-song nominees depends on the votes. In other words, it varies year by year. Last year, four songs were up for the Oscar.

Tune in on February 26th to see who wins.