The Academy Award nominations are out and the movie studios are counting their wins so far and their chances of taking home gold statuettes next month.
"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" from Paramount Pictures and Warner Bros won the most nominations -- 13 in total including one for Best Picture.
Fox Searchlight's "Slumdog Millionaire" earned 10 nominations, also including one for Best Picture. "Milk," from CNBC's sister company Universal Pictures brought in eight nominations, also including Best Picture.
There were a number of upsets.
Hollywood was buzzing that either "The Dark Knight" (Warner Bros.) or Wall-E would be nominated for Best Picture. "The Dark Knight" drew eight nominations, including a posthumous Best Supporting Actor for Heath Ledger. But the movie earned such critical acclaim, Hollywood was buzzing that it could win that top honor. And "Wall-E" was the best reviewed picture of the year, so many were hoping it would break out of the animated category into best picture. Without those two high-grossers, "The Dark Knight" and "Wall-E", there's some concern that not as many viewers will tune in to the show. The Oscars had its best ratings ever in 1998 when the biggest movie of all time, "Titanic" won 11 Oscars.
In contrast to big-budget "Dark Knight" and "Titanic" some smaller budget films won significant Oscar presence.
One surprise was "The Reader," from The Weinstein Company, a Holocaust movie about a German woman with a dark past and her relationship with a much younger man. It was the wild card winner of that fifth Best Picture slot. And Kate Winslet, expected to win a nomination for her role in "Revolutionary Road," won for "The Reader" instead.
I think that "Slumdog Millionaire" — a sort of fairytale set in the slums of India — particularly speaks to our time.
The $15 million budget movie has already brought in $60 million at the worldwide box office ($44 million of that in the U.S.) and I think it'll continue to do well through Oscar season.
During this recession I think people will be drawn to the upbeat fantasy of a kid from the slums of India becoming a millionaire. And as of now, I'm betting it'll win Best Picture.
- 'Benjamin Button' Leads Oscars With 13 Nominations
Questions? Comments? MediaMoney@cnbc.com