It was only the second time in more than a decade that no black actor or actress has featured among the 20 nominees in the four acting categories.
Among those who missed out was David Oyelowo, the British actor who played Martin Luther King Jr in the historical drama Selma and was given significant praise by critics.
Ava DuVernay, the black director of Selma, was also not nominated. She had been widely expected to make Oscars history by being the first African-American woman nominated for best director.
Both DuVernay and Oyelowo were nominated at the Golden Globes earlier this month. Following the announcement of the Oscar nominations, criticismerupted on social media. The Rev Al Sharpton, the civil rights leader, said it was “incongruous” that the lack of nominations followed a spell of racial tension in the US, with riots after a black teenager was shot dead by a white policeman.