Movie fans have 10 best-picture nominees to choose from, but it's come down to a battle between ex-spouses James Cameron with his blockbuster 'Avatar,' and Kathryn Bigelow with her under-the-radar war thriller 'The Hurt Locker.' Both are also up for best director and share the lead in total nominations, with nine.

Among other nominated films for Hollywood's biggest prize: 'The Blind Side,' 'District 9,' 'An Education,' 'Inglourious Basterds,' Precious,' 'A Serious Man,' 'Up' and 'Up in the Air.'
Movie fans have 10 best-picture nominees to choose from, but it's come down to a battle between ex-spouses James Cameron with his blockbuster 'Avatar,' and Kathryn Bigelow with her under-the-radar war thriller 'The Hurt Locker.' Both are also up for best director and share the lead in total nominations, with nine.

Among other nominated films for Hollywood's biggest prize: 'The Blind Side,' 'District 9,' 'An Education,' 'Inglourious Basterds,' 'Precious,' 'A Serious Man,' 'Up' and 'Up in the Air.'

Academy officials have insisted they want more variety in the mix this year, so that could explain the addition of an animated film like 'Up' and the low-budget sci-fi 'District 9.'

The lead acting categories includes two clear favorites this year, Sandra Bullock for 'The Blind Side' and Jeff Bridges for 'Crazy Heart.' Both have dominated this awards season and conventional wisdom dictates it's time for these two popular stars to finally get their due at the big show.

Other notable acting nominees include fan favorite George Clooney for his recession film 'Up in the Air,' Morgan Freeman for rugby-apartheid hybrid 'Invictus,' Gabourey Sibide for her tortured performance in 'Precious' and perennial nominee Meryl Streep for the Julia Child-inspired 'Julie and Julia.'

Even on the supporting side there are already two stars pegged as early favorites to win. Mo'Nique has won acclaim and awards hardware for playing the horrifying maternal figure in 'Precious' and Christoph Waltz, the Austrian-born star who has won the Golden Globe and SAG for 'Inglourious Basterds.'

The director category is shaping up to be a real showdown between Cameron and Bigelow, who were married between 1989-1991. Cameron's 'Avatar' won best drama and director at the Golden Globes, while 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' also beat 'Avatar' for the Producers Guild of America top prize and was chosen as last year's best film by many key critics groups. No woman has ever won the directing Oscar, and until Bigelow, no woman had even won the Director's Guild honor. Watch a Clip From the Film:


Another milestone: Lee Daniels became only the second black filmmaker nominated for best director (John Singleton came first with 1991's 'Boyz N the Hood').

Also nominated in that category are Jason Reitman for 'Up in the Air' and Quentin Tarantino for 'Inglourious Basterds.'

Nominees are picked by members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Actors, directors and writers make up the bulk of the 5,800-member strong academy.

The 82nd Oscars will be presented March 7 in a ceremony airing on ABC from Hollywood's Kodak Theatre. Hosting this year will be Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin.

BEST PICTURE
'Avatar'
'The Blind Side'
'District 9'
'An Education'
'The Hurt Locker'
'Inglourious Basterds'
'Precious'
'A Serious Man'
'Up'
'Up in the Air'

BEST ACTOR
Jeff Bridges, 'Crazy Heart'
George Clooney, 'Up in the Air'
Colin Firth, 'A Single Man'
Morgan Freeman, 'Invictus'
Jeremy Renner, 'The Hurt Locker'

BEST ACTRESS
Sandra Bullock, 'The Blind Side'
Helen Mirren, 'The Last Station'
Carey Mulligan, 'An Education'
Gabourey Sidibe, 'Precious'
Meryl Streep, 'Julie & Julia'

We know what you're looking for. Here's a full nominations list.
CATEGORIES Movies, Oscars