Avatar, Hurt Locker lead Oscar nominations

Sci-fi, animated flicks get more traction than usual

This year’s Academy Award nominations are like a bad Hollywood romantic comedy: a divorced couple is battling for the same award. Avatar, directed by James Cameron, and The Hurt Locker, by his ex-wife Kathryn Bigelow, tied for the largest number of nominations, with nine each including Best Picture. Due to the Academy’s new rule of having 10 Best Picture nominees (the most since the early ’40s), the Best Picture category included a larger mix of films than usual, including an animated movie, (Pixar’s blockbuster Up), two science-fiction adventures (Avatar and District 9) as well as some expected Oscar bait like A Serious Man, Up In the Air and Inglourious Basterds. There were few surprises in other categories, with familiar names like Jeff Bridges (Crazy Heart), Sandra Bullock (The Blind Side) leading the race for Best Actor and Actress. In the supporting categories, Penelope Cruz received the only major nomination for the mega-bomb musical Nine, while Christoph Waltz got a supporting actor nomination for his scene-stealing role in Inglourious Basterds. For Canadians, the nominally Canadian director Jason Reitman got a Best Director nomination for his film Up In the Air. And speaking of movies with “up” in the title, Pixar’s Up is the first animated feature in several years to make it into the Best Picture category; it was also nominated for Best Animated Feature, an award it’s somewhat more likely to win.

Canadian Press