Agatha A. Nitecka
Kathy Ehrich Dowd
January 14, 2016 09:45 AM

Many of this season’s critical darlings earned Academy Award nominations Thursday morning. But the Oscars always manage to throw in a few surprises – and this year was no different.

Veteran English actress Charlotte Rampling picked up a surprise Best Actress nomination for 45 Years. Although the star has been earning critical raves for decades, it’s the first Oscar nomination for the 69-year-old, who portrays a woman whose long-term marriage is suddenly on the rocks.

She will compete against Cate Blanchett for Carol, Brie Larson for Room, Saoirse Ronan for Brooklyn and Jennifer Lawrence for Joy.

Lawrence’s nomination was also a bit of a surprise since her portrayal of Miracle Mop inventor Joy Mangano hadn’t garnered as much buzz as her previous roles. However, Lawrence did pick up a Golden Globe on Sunday for her performance, and is a well-known Oscar favorite. At just 25, this is her fourth Oscar nomination.

Brooklyn, a small but well-received film about an Irish immigrant navigating two worlds, also had a better-than-expected showing Thursday. The film picked up a Best Picture nomination as well as a Best Actress nod for Ronan.

Crowd favorite Sylvester Stallone also earned a surprise nomination for Creed after reprising his iconic role as Rocky Balboa. His nod drew the loudest cheers from those gathered during the nominations announcement in Beverly Hills.

Additional surprises include a Best Picture nod for Mad Max: Fury Road – the Charlize Theron blockbuster released way back in May that fired up furious debate over whether an acclaimed action movie could make the cut – and a Best Director nomination for Room director Lenny Abrahamson.

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