Eddie Redmayne and Benedict Cumberbatch will go head-to-head in the race to be named best actor at this year's Oscars.
Redmayne, whose performance as Professor Stephen Hawking in The Theory Of Everything has already won him a Golden Globe, is among the early favourites to carry off the statuette.
Speaking after the nominations, he praised the man he brought to life on the big screen telling Sky News: "You know, as you can imagine, it's our job as actors to tell interesting stories about interesting people.
"They don't come more extraordinary than Stephen Hawking."
As well as Cumberbatch, who played code-breaker Alan Turing in The Imitation Game, Redmayne is up against Steve Carell, nominated for Foxcatcher, American Sniper's Bradley Cooper and Birdman's Michael Keaton for the award.
Sherlock star Benedict said of his inclusion: "I am knocked for six by this. So excited and honoured to receive this recognition.
"It's wonderful to be included by the Academy in this exceptional year of performances. To ring my parents who are both actors and tell them that their only son has been nominated for an Oscar is one of the proudest moments of my life."
The early odds suggest Redmayne faces stiff competition from Keaton in the race to be named Best Actor.
The US star is 4-5 to win, just marginally ahead of Redmayne at 10-11, according to bookmaker William Hill.
Redmayne's co-star in The Theory Of Everything, Felicity Jones, and Rosamund Pike are both nominated for the leading actress gong.
Jones, who played Professor Hawking's first wife Jane, told BBC Radio 5 Live she could not watch the nominations because it was "so nerve-wracking".
She said: "Jane would often be on set and it would be at first quite nerve-wracking and then I got to know her so well that I just had such affection for her so I feel like I'm absolutely sharing this nomination with her."
Jones and Gone Girl star Pike face competition from Reese Witherspoon, Julianne Moore and Marion Cotillard.
Keira Knightley, who stars alongside Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game, is nominated for the best supporting actress award alongside Oscars veteran Meryl Streep - who is shortlisted for a 19th time.
The other nominees are Patricia Arquette, Laura Dern and Emma Stone.
The nominees for supporting actor are Robert Duvall, Ethan Hawke, Edward Norton, Mark Ruffalo and J.K. Simmons.
Both The Theory Of Everything and The Imitation Game are in contention to be named best film along with American Sniper, Birdman, Boyhood, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Selma and Whiplash.
Among those who were tipped for a nomination but missed out are actors Ralph Fiennes and David Oyelowo, both critically acclaimed for their work in The Grand Budapest Hotel and Selma respectively, and Nick Hornby whose work on the screenplay of Wild went unrecognised.
Former Friends star Jennifer Aniston also missed out despite impressing the critics with her performance in Cake.
Other notable nominations include two for French composer Alexandre Desplat, who is recognised for his original score for The Grand Budapest Hotel and The Imitation Game.
Another Brit - cinematographer Dick Pope - was nominated for his work on Mike Leigh's Mr Turner and inadvertently became an online sensation when Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs pronounced his name "Dick Poop".
The nominations were announced this afternoon during a press conference in Beverley Hills with the ceremony to follow on February 22.