"Avatar," "The Hurt Locker" biggest winners of Oscar nominations

08:43, February 03, 2010      

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James Cameron and his ex-wife Kathryn Bigelow are widely expected to slug it out during the 82nd Oscar Awards competition for the best director laureate as 3D sci- fi epic "Avatar" and Iraqi war story "The Hurt Locker," directed by the former spouse respectively, each garnered nine nominations, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced Tuesday.

Aside from the two flicks, "The Blind Side," "District 9," "An Education," "Inglourious Basterds," "Precious: Based on the Novel ` Push' by Sapphire," "A Serious Man," "Up" and "Up in the Air" also got their nods as this year's best picture slots have been expanded from five to 10, in a bid to attract audience and invigorate the race as the ratings have been slip-sliding for years.

In the acting categories, 12 performers are first-time nominees. Five -- Clooney, Freeman, Cruz, Mirren and Streep -- are previous acting winners, while Matt Damon received an Oscar for original screenplay in 1997 for "Good Will Hunting."

Nonetheless, the race is widely expected to boils down to a slugfest between "Avatar" and "The Hurt Locker." The ex-couple Camemon and Bigelow will go after the mostly coveted honor.

Although "Avatar" won best drama and director at the Golden Globes and became No. 1 box office grosser in the Hollywood history, Bigelow's "The Hurt Locker" beat out Cameron at the Directors Guild of America Awards, whose recipient usually goes on to earn the best-director Oscar. "The Hurt Locker" won the top prize from the Producers Guild of America -- an honor that has often foreshadowed a best-picture win on Oscar night. Bigelow also was named best director by the Directors Guild of America, becoming the first woman director laureate. She is only the fourth woman nominated for a directing Oscar, following Sofia Coppola for 2003's "Lost in Translation," Jane Campion for 1993's "The Piano" and Lina Wertmuller for 1975's "Seven Beauties."

In the best actor category, the nominees are: Jeff Bridges for "Crazy Heart," George Clooney for "Up in the Air," Colin Firth for "A Single Man," Morgan Freeman for "Invictus" and Jeremy Renner for "The Hurt Locker." The Hollywood veteran Bridges' rendition of a drunk country singer won him acclaims from the critics, winning at the Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild awards. Clooney, who played a jaded corporate head-chopper in recession-era America, poses solid challenge.

The best actress nominees were Sandra Bullock for "The Blind Side," Helen Mirren for "The Last Station," Carey Mulligan for "An Education," Gabourey Sidibe for "Precious: Based on the Novel ` Push' by Sapphire" and Meryl Streep for "Julie & Julia." Bullock, who has never been nominated an Oscar before, appears to be a favorite in the race for her portrayal of a strong-willed Southern family woman in "The Blind Side." Having recently won awards at Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild, she is in a perfect position to challenge others. However, she will likely face a stiff challenge from perennial awards-season favorite Streep who acted as famous chef Julia Child. With 16th nomination this year, Streep extends her lead as the movie academy's most nominated performer.

Winners of the race for the best supporting actor nominations are: Matt Damon for "Invictus," Woody Harrelson for "The Messenger, " Christopher Plummer for "The Last Station," Stanley Tucci for " The Lovely Bones" and Christoph Waltz for "Inglourious Basterds." This is Damon's first nominations in 12 years. Waltz, a veteran Austrian character actor who only began his Hollywood career recently and played a vicious Nazi officer, is considered a front- runner.

The best supporting actress nominees were Penelope Cruz for " Nine," Vera Farmiga for "Up in the Air," Maggie Gyllenhaal for " Crazy Heart," Anna Kendrick for "Up in the Air" and Mo'Nique for " Precious: Based on the Novel`Push' by Sapphire." Mo'Nique has monopolized the critics' prizes lately, and this is her first shot into the Oscar.

Apart from its best-picture nomination, Pixar's 3D animated film "Up" was also nominated in the best animated feature film category. The other nominees in that category were: "Coraline," " Fantastic Mr. Fox," "The Princess and the Frog" and "The Secret of Kells."

For best adapted screenplay, the nominees were Neill Blomkamp and Terri Tatchell for "District 9," Nick Hornby for "An Education, " Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Armando Lannucci and Tony Roche for "In the Loop," Geoffrey Fletcher for "Precious: Based on the Novel `Push' by Sapphire" and Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner for "Up in the Air."

Nominated for best original screenplay were Mark Boal for "The Hurt Locker," Quentin Tarantino for "Inglourious Basterds," Alessandro Camon and Oren Moverman for "The Messenger," Joel Coen and Ethan Coen for "A Serious Man," and Bob Peterson and Pete Docter for "Up."

The best foreign language film nominees were "Ajami" from Israel, "El Secreto de Sus Ojos" from Argentina, "The Milk of Sorrow" from Peru, "Un Prophete" from France, and "The White Ribbon" from Germany.

The nominations was announced at 5:30 a.m. by actress Anne Hathaway and Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences President Tom Sherak at the Academy's Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills.

The Oscars will be handed out March 7 at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, with Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin will co-host the ceremony. ABC will telecast the ceremony.

Source: Xinhua
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