An Oscar first for a female director – unless her ex-husband wins

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Almost two decades after they divorced, Kathryn Bigelow and James Cameron are reunited with nine Oscar nominations each for 'The Hurt Locker' and 'Avatar'

It will be both a battle of the sexes, and a battle of the exes: James Cameron and his former wife Kathryn Bigelow are preparing to share the spotlight at next month's Academy Awards, after their films Avatar and The Hurt Locker led the field by being shortlisted in nine categories when the Oscar nominations were announced yesterday.

Hollywood's blue-riband event for 2010 is now likely to revolve around a David vs Goliath clash between two movies which, despite their intriguing provenance, couldn't be more different in style and tone, and which have enjoyed compellingly different paths to success.

Cameron's Avatar is an extravagant 3D science-fiction blockbuster with state-of-the-art special effects and a $400m [£250m] budget. It has topped the box-office charts since its release shortly before Christmas and this week became the highest-grossing film ever made, beating Titanic to pass $2bn in global ticket sales.

Bigelow's war drama The Hurt Locker, by contrast, is a gritty look at a US army bomb-disposal team working in Iraq shortly after the 2003 invasion. It was pulled together on a shoestring budget of $11m. But despite winning critical acclaim and endless accolades this awards season, it made just $16m at the box office

Cameron's film is widely seen to represent the future of Hollywood, with its huge profile and expensive 3D technology; Bigelow's is an example of the virtues of independent movies, which are made outside the major studio system and have in recent years tended to struggle commercially.

The pair, who divorced in 1991 but remain friendly, were both shortlisted for the Best Director award. If Bigelow goes on to win that battle (and the bookmakers currently have her as the odds-on favourite) she will become the first woman to ever receive the accolade.

Asked how that felt, she said yesterday: "I am perhaps overwhelmed with joy. But I do hope that someday we can lose the modifier and that becomes a moot point whether the person is male or female and they're just film-makers making statements that they believe in."

The full line-up for next month's Oscars was announced by actress Anne Hathaway early yesterday. While Avatar's remaining seven nominations came in technical categories, The Hurt Locker got nods for its star Jeremy Renner as Best Actor, and writer Mark Boal for Best Original Screenplay.

In a second potential milestone, Precious, the hard-hitting tale of an abused black teenager in 1980s Harlem, got six nominations, including Best Film. "After 82 years, it's the first film nominated for Best Picture directed by an African-American," said its director Lee Daniels. "Isn't that great? It's so exciting."

Gabourey Sidibe, the teenage star of Precious who won her part at an open audition while she was working at a call centre, continued her staggering rise when she was nominated for Best Actress. "As soon as I heard, I jumped up and down and for some reason I kept screaming, 'I'm gonna get a car! I'm gonna get a car!' I don't know why," she said.

Sidibe faces stiff competition from lofty rivals like Dame Helen Mirren and Meryl Streep, but her toughest opponent is perhaps Sandra Bullock, whose film The Blind Side is also a surprise nomination for Best Picture.

Despite mixed reviews, the tale of how a housewife adopts a black orphan teenager who goes on to become an American football star has been a huge hit with Middle America and was one of the top-grossing films of 2009, making more than $230m in the US.

The Blind Side benefited from a decision by the Academy to expand the number of films shortlisted for Best Picture from five to 10. The event's organisers hope the move will put more commercial hits in the running and reverse a long-term trend of falling TV audiences for the awards ceremony.

Other surprising nominations for Best Picture were District 9, a South African science fiction satire about apartheid, which got a total of four nods, and Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds, which got a total of eight. Despite mixed reviews and a lukewarm reception at Cannes Inglourious has been a huge box-office success, taking more than $300m.

Jason Reitman's recession comedy Up in the Air received six nominations, including two in the Best Supporting Actress category for its co-stars Vera Farmiga and Anna Kendrick, and one in the Best Actor division for George Clooney.

Clooney is up against the strong favourite Jeff Bridges, who has never won an Oscar but has been nominated for his portrayal of a washed-up country singer in Crazy Heart. Also fancied in the Best Actor category is Morgan Freeman, who played Nelson Mandela in Clint Eastwood's Invictus. "This is my fifth nomination and I'm more proud of that than all the rest," he said.

A final big winner was the Pixar film Up, which was shortlisted for five of this year's 24 awards and is a shoo-in for Best Animation gong. The tale of an elderly man who attaches helium balloons to his house and flies to South America became only the second cartoon after Beauty and the Beast in 1992 to be nominated for Best Picture, perhaps reflecting the fact that animations have been the engine room of the Hollywood economy this year, accounting for five of 2009's 15 highest-grossing titles.

Complete list of 82nd Annual Academy Award nominations

1. Best Picture: 'Avatar,' 'The Blind Side,' 'District 9,' 'An Education,' 'The Hurt Locker,' 'Inglourious Basterds,' 'Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire,' 'A Serious Man,' 'Up,' 'Up in the Air.'



2. Actor: Jeff Bridges, 'Crazy Heart'; George Clooney, 'Up in the Air'; Colin Firth, 'A Single Man'; Morgan Freeman, 'Invictus'; Jeremy Renner, 'The Hurt Locker.'



3. Actress: Sandra Bullock, 'The Blind Side'; Helen Mirren, 'The Last Station'; Carey Mulligan, 'An Education'; Gabourey Sidibe, 'Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire'; Meryl Streep, 'Julie & Julia.'



4. Supporting Actor: Matt Damon, 'Invictus'; Woody Harrelson, 'The Messenger'; Christopher Plummer, 'The Last Station'; Stanley Tucci, 'The Lovely Bones'; Christoph Waltz, 'Inglourious Basterds.'



5. Supporting Actress: Penelope Cruz, 'Nine'; Vera Farmiga, 'Up in the Air'; Maggie Gyllenhaal, 'Crazy Heart'; Anna Kendrick, 'Up in the Air'; Mo'Nique, 'Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire.'



6. Directing: James Cameron, 'Avatar'; Kathryn Bigelow, 'The Hurt Locker'; Quentin Tarantino, 'Inglourious Basterds'; Lee Daniels, 'Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire'; Jason Reitman, 'Up in the Air.'



7. Foreign Language Film: 'Ajami,' Israel; 'El Secreto de Sus Ojos,' Argentina; 'The Milk of Sorrow,' Peru; 'Un Prophete,' France; 'The White Ribbon,' Germany.



8. Adapted Screenplay: Neill Blomkamp and Terri Tatchell, 'District 9'; Nick Hornby, 'An Education'; Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci, Tony Roche, 'In the Loop'; Geoffrey Fletcher, 'Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire'; Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner, 'Up in the Air.'



9. Original Screenplay: Mark Boal, 'The Hurt Locker'; Quentin Tarantino, 'Inglourious Basterds'; Alessandro Camon and Oren Moverman, 'The Messenger'; Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, 'A Serious Man'; Bob Peterson, Pete Docter, Tom McCarthy, 'Up.'



10. Animated Feature Film: 'Coraline'; 'Fantastic Mr. Fox'; 'The Princess and the Frog'; 'The Secret of Kells'; 'Up.'



11. Art Direction: 'Avatar,' 'The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus,' 'Nine,' 'Sherlock Holmes,' 'The Young Victoria.'



12. Cinematography: 'Avatar,' 'Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,' 'The Hurt Locker,' 'Inglourious Basterds,' 'The White Ribbon.'



13. Sound Mixing: 'Avatar,' 'The Hurt Locker,' 'Inglourious Basterds,' 'Star Trek,' 'Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.'



14. Sound Editing: 'Avatar,' 'The Hurt Locker,' 'Inglourious Basterds,' 'Star Trek,' 'Up.'



15. Original Score: 'Avatar,' James Horner; 'Fantastic Mr. Fox,' Alexandre Desplat; 'The Hurt Locker,' Marco Beltrami and Buck Sanders; 'Sherlock Holmes,' Hans Zimmer; 'Up,' Michael Giacchino.



16. Original Song: 'Almost There' from 'The Princess and the Frog,' Randy Newman; 'Down in New Orleans' from 'The Princess and the Frog,' Randy Newman; 'Loin de Paname' from 'Paris 36,' Reinhardt Wagner and Frank Thomas; 'Take It All' from 'Nine,' Maury Yeston; 'The Weary Kind (Theme from Crazy Heart)' from 'Crazy Heart,' Ryan Bingham and T Bone Burnett.



17. Costume: 'Bright Star,' 'Coco Before Chanel,' 'The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus,' 'Nine,' 'The Young Victoria.'



18. Documentary Feature: 'Burma VJ,' 'The Cove,' 'Food, Inc.' 'The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers,' 'Which Way Home.'



19. Documentary (short subject): '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 a la Berlin.'



20. Film Editing: 'Avatar,' 'District 9,' 'The Hurt Locker,' 'Inglourious Basterds,' 'Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire.'



21. Makeup: 'Il Divo,' 'Star Trek,' 'The Young Victoria.'



22. Animated Short Film: 'French Roast,' 'Granny O'Grimm's Sleeping Beauty,' 'The Lady and the Reaper (La Dama y la Muerte),' 'Logorama,' 'A Matter of Loaf and Death.'



23. Live Action Short Film: 'The Door,' 'Instead of Abracadabra,' 'Kavi,' 'Miracle Fish,' 'The New Tenants.'



24. Visual Effects: 'Avatar,' 'District 9,' 'Star Trek.'

Arts and Entertainment
Winnie the Pooh has been branded 'inappropriate' in Poland
books
Arts and Entertainment
American singer, acclaimed actor of stage and screen, political activist and civil rights campaigner Paul Robeson (1898 - 1976), rehearses in relaxed mood at the piano.
filmSinger, actor, activist, athlete: Paul Robeson was a cultural giant. But prejudice and intolerance drove him to a miserable death. Now his story is to be told in film...
Arts and Entertainment
Lee Evans is quitting comedy to spend more time with his wife and daughter

comedy
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift is dominating album and singles charts worldwide

music
Arts and Entertainment
Kieron Richardson plays gay character Ste Hay in Channel 4 soap Hollyoaks

tv
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment

books
Arts and Entertainment
One Direction go Fourth: The boys pose on the cover of their new album Four

Review: One Direction, Four

music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
'Game of Thrones' writer George RR Martin

Review: The World of Ice and Fire

books
Arts and Entertainment
Sean Bean will play 'extraordinary hero' Inspector John Marlott in The Frankenstein Chronicles
tvHow long before he gets killed off?
Arts and Entertainment
Some like it hot: Blaise Bellville

music
Arts and Entertainment
A costume worn by model Kate Moss for the 2013 photograph

art
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Len Goodman appeared to mutter the F-word after Simon Webbe's Strictly performance

Strictly
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie T makes his long-awaited return to the London stage
musicReview: Alexandra Palace, London
Arts and Entertainment
S Club 7 back in 2001 when they also supported 'Children in Need'
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Bruce Forsyth rejoins Tess Daly to host the Strictly Come Dancing Children in Need special
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Dornan plays Christian Grey getting ready for work

Film More romcom than S&M

Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

Review: The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment
The comedian Daniel O'Reilly appeared contrite on BBC Newsnight last night

comedy
Arts and Entertainment
The American stand-up Tig Notaro, who performed topless this week

Comedy...to show her mastectomy scars

Arts and Entertainment

TVNetflix gets cryptic

Arts and Entertainment
Claudia Winkleman is having another week off Strictly to care for her daughter
TV
Arts and Entertainment
BBC Children in Need is the BBC's UK charity. Since 1980 it has raised over £600 million to change the lives of disabled children and young people in the UK

TV review A moving film showing kids too busy to enjoy their youth

Arts and Entertainment
Richard Flanagan with his winning novel

Books Not even a Man Booker prize could save Richard Flanagan from a nomination

Arts and Entertainment
Bryan Cranston will play federal agent Robert Mazur in The Infiltrator

Books
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    US immigration: President Obama ready to press ahead with long-promised plan to overhaul 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?

    Immigration: Obama's final frontier

    The President is ready to press ahead with the long-promised plan to overhaul America's 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?
    Bill Cosby rape allegations explained: Why are these allegations coming out now? Why didn’t these women come forward earlier? And why has nobody taken legal action?

    Bill Cosby rape allegations explained

    Why are these allegations coming out now? Why has nobody taken legal action? And what happens next for the man once thought of as 'America's Dad'
    Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain

    You know that headache you’ve got?

    Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain
    Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?

    Scoot commute

    Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?
    Paul Robeson: The story of how an American icon was driven to death to be told in film

    The Paul Robeson story

    How an American icon was driven to death to be told in film
    10 best satellite navigation systems

    Never get lost again: 10 best satellite navigation systems

    Keep your vehicle going in the right direction with a clever device
    Paul Scholes column: England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil

    Paul Scholes column

    England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil
    Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win says defender as he prepares to return with Hull

    Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win

    Hull defender faces his struggling former club on Sunday ready to show what they are missing. But he says he will always be grateful to Tottenham
    Frank Warren column: Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game

    Frank Warren column

    Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game
    Synagogue attack: Fear unites both sides of Jerusalem as minister warns restoring quiet could take 'months'

    Terror unites Jerusalem after synagogue attack

    Rising violence and increased police patrols have left residents of all faiths looking over their shoulders
    Medecins sans Frontieres: The Ebola crisis has them in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa

    'How do you carry on? You have to...'

    The Ebola crisis has Medecins sans Frontieres in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa
    Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

    Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

    Residents in what was Iraq’s safest city fear an increase in jihadist attacks, reports Patrick Cockburn
    Underwater photography competition winners 2014 - in pictures

    'Mysterious and inviting' shot of diver wins photography competition

    Stunning image of cenote in Mexico takes top prize
    Sir John Major: Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting

    Sir John Major hits out at theatres

    Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting
    Kicking Barbie's butt: How the growth of 3D printing enabled me to make an army of custom-made figurines

    Kicking Barbie's butt

    How the growth of 3D printing enabled toy-designer to make an army of custom-made figurines