Avatar may be getting ready to pass Titanic as the highest-grossing movie of all time domestically, but James Cameron’s big ship will always have more Oscars than his 3D sci-fi epic. Avatar and The Hurt Locker, directed by Cameron’s ex-wife, Kathryn Bigelow, led this morning’s Academy Award nominations with nine each. Read below for more highlights.
Avatar will need to remain big against a bunch of fellow Best Picture nominees — 10 for the first time since the 1940s. It’ll be going up against relative surprise The Blind Side, District 9, An Education, The Hurt Locker, Inglourious Basterds, Precious, A Serious Man, Up and Up in the Air. Pixar’s Up, also nominated in the Best Animated Feature category, is only the second animated feature ever to be nominated for Best Picture — following Beauty and the Beast in 1991.
Cameron cleaned up back in 1997, with 11 wins for his Titanic. A Best Director winner that year, he will be vying with Bigelow this year for that award against a formidable lineup: Precious’ Lee Daniels, Inglourious Basterds’ Quentin Tarantino (also a contender for Best Original Screenplay) and Up in the Air’s Jason Reitman. Up in the Air also did well in the nominations, scoring an Best Adapted Screenplay nod, as well as one for George Clooney in the Best Actor category and a pair for Vera Farmiga and Anna Kendrick for Best Supporting Actress. Those two join Penelope Cruz (Nine), Maggie Gyllenhaal (Crazy Heart) and Mo’Nique (Precious), who recently won a Screen Actors Guild award in that category.
Clooney joins recent SAG winner Jeff Bridges (Crazy Heart), Colin Firth (A Single Man), Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker) and Morgan Freeman (Invictus). Freeman’s co-star Matt Damon received a nod for Best Supporting Actor, as did Woody Harrelson (The Messenger), Christopher Plummer (The Last Station), Stanley Tucci (The Lovely Bones) and Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds).
One other surprise was Gabourey Sidibe, the acclaimed newcomer from Precious who will face off against fellow newbie Carey Mulligan (An Education), Sandra Bullock (The Blind Side), Meryl Streep (Julie & Julia) and Helen Mirren (The Last Station).
The Academy Awards air on ABC on March 7, and will be hosted by Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin.