James Cameron's record-breaking blockbuster "Avatar," plus the war films "The Hurt Locker" and "Inglourious Basterds" led the way at Tuesday (February 2) morning's announcement of the nominees for the 82nd Academy Awards.
With the Academy Awards expanding its Best Picture field to 10 nominees this year, the expectation was that a few more popular hits would enter the mix, but "Avatar," on its way to becoming the top-grossing film of all time by most non-inflation-adjusted measures, would have made the short-list anyway. Cameron's film is joined by hits including "Inglourious Basterds," "District 9," "The Blind Side" and "Up." Rounding out the list are "An Education," "The Hurt Locker," "Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire," "A Serious Man" and "Up in the Air."
While the Best Picture field grew to 10, the Best Director field stayed steady at five, with Cameron, Kathryn Bigelow ("Hurt Locker"), Quentin Tarantino ("Inglourious Basterds"), Lee Daniels ("Precious") and Jason Reitman ("Up in the Air") earning nominations.
Interestingly, of the 10 Best Picture nominees, eight also earned screenplay nominations, with the only exceptions being "The Blind Side" (bumped in the Adapted Screenplay field for "In the Loop") and "Avatar" (bumped in Original Screenplay for "The Messenger").
"Avatar" still has plenty to be happy for on Tuesday, with nine nominations in total, also picking up nods for art direction, cinematography, editing, original score, sound editing and mixing, plus visual effects.
That left "Avatar" with nine nominations total, tied with "The Hurt Locker" for most of the year. "Inglourious Basterds" was close behind with eight nominations.
In addition to the Best Picture, directing and screenplay nods, "The Hurt Locker" was recognized for editing, sound editing and mixing, score, cinematography and leading man Jeremy Renner.
Joining Renner in the Best Actor field are Jeff Bridges ("Crazy Heart"), George Clooney ("Up in the Air"), Colin Firth ("A Single Man") and Morgan Freeman for "Invictus."
Although "Invictus" missed out on an expected Best Picture nod, it also got a nomination for Matt Damon in the Best Supporting Actor field, where he's joined by "Basterds" star Christoph Waltz, Stanley Tucci ("The Lovely Bones"), Woody Harrelson ("The Messenger") and Christopher Plummer ("The Last Station").
Plummer's "The Last Station" co-star Helen Mirren is up for Best Actress against Gabourey Sidibe ("Precious"), Carey Mulligan ("An Education") and favorites Sandra Bullock ("The Blind Side") and Meryl Streep ("Julie & Julia").
Leading the way in the Supporting Actress category is award season juggernaut Mo'Nique ("Precious"), "Up in the Air" co-stars Vera Farmiga and Anna Kendrick, last year's winner Penelope Cruz ("Nine") and "Crazy Heart" co-star Maggie Gyllenhaal.