Nicole Kidman, Australia, Christian Bale, The Dark Knight

20th Century Fox; Warner Bros. Entertainment

Indy, we hardly knew ya.

Comic book-based blockbusters The Dark Knight, Iron Man and Hellboy II: The Golden Army lead the list of seven semifinalists in the running for this year's Best Visual Effects Oscar, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced today.

Also making the cut: Australia, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and two Brendan Fraser-powered flicks, The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor and Journey to the Center of the Earth (which is gunning to be the first 3-D movie to be  nominated in this category).

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Cloverfield and two other superhero opuses—Hancock and The Incredible Hulk—were among the surprise snubs. The films were among 15 shortlisted last month.

On Jan. 15, the Academy will screen 15-minute reels from the contenders and then a panel of experts will whittle the field down to a final three. (The screenings at the Academy's Samuel Goldwyn Theater are open to the public).

Nominations for the 81st Academy Awards will be unveiled Jan. 22, with the ceremony taking place exactly one month later.

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