He's directed some of the most critically acclaimed, visually arresting movies of our time and has been celebrated by his colleagues, but this morning Christopher Nolan's name was a notable snub on the list of Best Director Oscar nominees.

Nolan -- a three-time Directors Guild of America nominee for 'Memento,' 'The Dark Knight' and 'Inception' -- has yet to be recognized in the director category by the Academy. Sure, his movies often score nominations galore; 'Inception,' for example, is up for eight awards this year, including Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay. But for some reason, the Academy continues to ignore him as a directing contender.

Could it be because his inventive movies are typically also enormous blockbusters? Doubtful. Enormous box-office success didn't prevent Steven Spielberg from joining the nominees' circle early in his career (for 'Close Encounters of the Third Kind,' 'Raiders of the Lost Ark' and 'E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial,' popcorn flicks all). And it certainly hasn't hurt two-time-winner James Cameron.
The Academy does have something of a history of snubbing commercial directors. After all, despite his early nominations, it took Spielberg until 1993's 'Schindler's List' to actually win a directing Oscar, and wildly popular director Alfred Hitchcock never won an award in the category. However, it's still surprising that Nolan got the shaft with 'Inception.' It's not like he hasn't been racking up the kudos for the Leonardo DiCaprio film. First came a Golden Globe nomination, then one from Directors Guild of America; back home, the London-born Nolan also reeled in his first BAFTA nomination for Achievement in Direction. Yet no love from the Academy.

Of course, Nolan is no stranger to Academy snubs. 'The Dark Knight' earned a well-deserved Oscar win for the late Heath Ledger as well as seven other nominations, but its omission from the Best Picture slot was perceived as a major snub at the time -- not to mention the Best Director category. 'Batman Begins,' by the way, was nominated only for Best Cinematography; 'The Prestige' also received a nod for Art Direction; and 'Memento' earned nominations only for Best Original Screenplay and Film Editing.

The 'Dark Knight' slight moved Nolan's brother Jonathan (who co-wrote 'Memento' with him) to respond with an email to fans: "Any nominations for a comic book movie is a thing of beauty no matter how you slice it, and that takes the sting out a bit. Besides, I've been to the big show before, and, like any of these things, it's a little disappointing. Did you know it's not even an open bar once the show starts? At least this time I would have remembered to bring a little cash so I could buy myself a drink after losing."

So, what will it take for Nolan to be recognized by the Academy for his directing skills? Does he need to make a movie about Facebook, World War II or blue aliens to stand a chance? Or does he simply have to hang in there for 20 or 30 more years until the Academy finally decides it's his time? Or could it be that the Academy just confused Nolan's 'Inception' with one of the many popular Internet memes relating to the movie?

Whatever the case, we hope it'll be rectified with Nolan's next feature.

Check out the full list of 2011 Oscar Nominees

categories Features, Hot Topic, Oscars