Oscar nominations are in

Avatar and The Hurt Locker lead the field, but there are a few surprises.

by Jennie Kermode

As expected, James Cameron's Avatar and Kathryn Bigelow's The Hurt Locker, this year's two biggest award winners so far, are front runners when it comes to the Oscars, nominations for which were announced today. But this year's awards are also offering a little something different, with the expansion of the Best Picture category and a deliberate attempt to include a wider range of film genres shifting the balance.

The big winners in this regard are District 9, with nominations for Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay; Up, which has a Best Picture nomination rather than being considered only in the animation category; and Inglourious Basterds, nominated for Best Picture with Quentin Tarantino up for Best Director and Christoph Waltz getting a Best Supporting Actor nod.

So who's likely to win? There's a lot of support behind Avatar to take the top prizes, partly because the big studios are hoping to make a decisive move toward 3D, with many more projects lined up for the next few years, and this would help 3D get taken seriously. The Hurt Locker, however, is in with a good shot, partly because of the way it has captured the political mood of the times and partly because, despite their reputation, the Oscars actually have a habit of rewarding low budget, 'underdog' films. Kathryn Bigelow's nomination for Best Director will certainly make an impact as it's an award that has never been won by a woman.

Colin Firth is the critics' favourite for Best Actor, given his extraordinary performance in A Single Man, but it seems more likely the award will go to Jeff Bridges, partly because this is his fourth nomination and he has never won. Sandra Bullock is the front runner for Best Actress but her fate may depend on the mood surrounding The Blind Side, the story of a white woman taking in a poor black child and raising him to be a sports star, because it has been heavily criticised for its racial politics. Having already taken several awards this year, England's Carey Mulligan is definitely in with a shout, and Gabourey Sidibe, still in her teens, may attract support as an outsider.

In the Best Supporting Actress category everybody has been blown away by Mo'Nique, so her competitors face a tough challenge. Best Supporting Actor, by contrast, is an open field, though Matt Damon might just have the edge.

The winners will be announced on the 25th of March.

This year's Oscar nominations in full:-

  • 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 Director
    • James Cameron - Avatar
    • Kathryn Bigelow - The Hurt Locker
    • Quentin Tarantino - Inglourious Basterds
    • Lee Daniels - Precious
    • Jason Reitman - 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
  • Best Supporting Actor
    • Matt Damon - Invictus
    • Woody Harrelson - The Messenger
    • Christopher Plummer - The Last Station
    • Stanley Tucci - The Lovely Bones
    • Cristoph Waltz - Inglourious Basterds
  • Best Supporting Actress
    • Penelope Cruz - Nine
    • Vera Farmiga - Up in The Air
    • Maggie Gyllenhaal - Crazy Heart
    • Anna Kendrick - Up in The Air
    • Mo'Nique - Precious
  • Best Animated Feature Film
    • Coraline
    • Fantastic Mr Fox
    • The Princess And The Frog
    • The Secret Of Kells
    • Up
  • Best Foreign Language Film
    • Ajami
    • El Secreto de Sus Ojos
    • The Milk of Sorrow
    • A Prophet
    • The White Ribbon
  • Best Documentary
    • Burma VJ
    • The Cove
    • Food, Inc.
    • The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers
    • Which Way Home
  • Best Short Film (Live Action)
    • The Door
    • Instead Of Abracadabra
    • Kavi
    • Miracle Fish
    • The New Tenants
  • Best Animated Sort
    • French Roast
    • Granny O’Grimm’s Sleeping Beauty
    • The Lady And The Reaper
    • Logorama
    • A Matter Of Loaf And Death
  • Best Documentary Short
    • China’s Unnatural Disaster: The Tears Of Sichuan Province
    • The Last Campaign Of Governor Booth Gardner
    • The Last Truck: Closing Of A GM Plant
    • Music By Prudence
    • Rabbit À La Berlin
  • Best Art Direction
    • Avatar
    • The Imaginarium Of Doctor Parnassus
    • Nine
    • Sherlock Holmes
    • The Young Victoria
  • Best Cinematography
    • Avatar
    • Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince
    • The Hurt Locker
    • Inglourious Basterds
    • The White Ribbon
  • Best Film Editing
    • Avatar
    • District 9
    • The Hurt Locker
    • Inglourious Basterds
    • Precious
  • Best Original Screenplay
    • The Hurt Locker
    • Inglourious Basterds
    • The Messenger
    • A Serious Man
    • Up
  • Best Adapted Screenplay
    • District 9
    • An Education
    • In The Loop
    • Precious
    • Up In The Air
  • Best Costume Design
    • Bright Star
    • Coco Before Chanel
    • The Imaginarium Of Doctor Parnassus
    • Nine
    • The Young Victoria
  • Best Make-Up
    • Il Divo
    • Star Trek
    • The Young Victoria
  • Best Visual Effects
    • Avatar
    • District 9
    • Star Trek
  • Best Music (Original Score)
    • Avatar
    • Fantastic Mr Fox
    • The Hurt Locker
    • Sherlock Holmes
    • Up
  • Best Music (Original Song)
    • Almost There - The Princess And The Frog
    • Down in New Orleans - The Princess And The Frog
    • Loin de Paname - Paris 36
    • Take It All - Nine
    • The Weary Kind (Theme From Crazy Heart) - Crazy Heart
  • Best Sound Mixing
    • Avatar
    • The Hurt Locker
    • Inglourious Basterds
    • Star Trek
    • Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen
  • Best Sound Editing
    • Avatar
    • The Hurt Locker
    • Inglourious Basterds
    • Star Trek
    • Up
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