Yesterday's Academy Award nominations were ripe with the usual suspects, yet they still packed a few surprises. As expected, The Return of the King -- the final installment in the Lord of the Rings trilogy -- got the most nods. Time Warner's (NYSE:TWX) New Line Cinema, which distributed the epic, wouldn't have it any other way. But did anyone even seeFox's (NYSE:FOX) Master and Commander, which garnered the second-most nominations?

A full 30 movies outgrossed the Russell Crowe seafaring saga, which made back roughly half of its $150 million production budget at the domestic box office. Then again, the Academy Awards are about art -- not money. You would have to go back to 1997's Titanic to see a year's biggest winner at the multiplex take home the Best Picture. That could change this year. The Return of the King is the favorite to win and will pass Pixar's (NASDAQ:PIXR) Finding Nemo this week as the year's top earner.

What's an Oscar worth? A lot. Victorious studios stand to reap a little something extra from theatrical re-releases and the eventual DVD home market. A Best Actor or other such award for a dud of a film can generate a little revenue-sharing action in the Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) and Blockbuster (NYSE:BBI) rental sector. Winning stars naturally command higher paychecks in future projects.

All that was missing from yesterday's nominations was Disney's (NYSE:DIS) Miramax. The studio was denied a nomination in the Best Picture category for the first time in a dozen years despite Cold Mountain's critical acclaim.

Of course, it's not as if Disney can gripe. Like Time Warner, the media giant earned 25 nominations in various other categories. Besides, like any good movie, you need some plot twists and surprises to keep the Oscars fresh and entertaining.

There's money to be made in Hollywood. Maybe that's why both Pixar and Netflix have been selections in our Motley Fool Stock Advisor newsletter.

Will this be Peter Jackson's turn to win big? Which was your favorite film in the series? Where does the franchise go from here, theatrically speaking? All this and more -- in the Lord of the Rings discussion board. Only on