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
Rachel McAdams in True Detective season 2

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Off the wall: the cast of ‘Life in Squares’

TV
Arts and Entertainment

Books And it is whizzpopping!

Arts and Entertainment
Bono throws water at the crowd while the Edge watches as they perform in the band's first concert of their new world tour in Vancouver

MusicThey're running their own restaurants

Voices
The main entrance to the BBC headquarters in London
TV & Radio
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

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

    Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

    Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

    Turkish President Erdogan could benefit politically from the targeting of the PKK, says Patrick Cockburn
    Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

    Our choice is years of Tory rule under Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

    Yvette Cooper urged Labour members to 'get serious' about the next general election rather than become 'a protest movement'
    Singapore's domestic workers routinely exploited and often abused in the service of rich nationals

    Singapore's hidden secret of domestic worker abuse

    David Cameron was shown the country's shiniest veneer on his tour. What he didn't see was the army of foreign women who are routinely exploited and often abused in the service of rich nationals
    Showdown by Shirley Jackson: A previously unpublished short story from the queen of American Gothic

    Showdown, by Shirley Jackson

    A previously unpublished short story from the queen of American Gothic
    10 best DSLRs

    Be sharp! 10 best DSLRs

    Up your photography game with a versatile, powerful machine
    Solved after 200 years: the mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army

    Solved after 200 years

    The mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army
    Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise

    Robert Fisk on the Turkey conflict

    Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise
    Investigation into wreck of unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden

    Sunken sub

    Investigation underway into wreck of an unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden
    Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes

    Age of the selfie

    Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes
    Not so square: How BBC's Bloomsbury saga is sexing up the period drama

    Not so square

    How Virginia Woolf saga is sexing up the BBC period drama
    Rio Olympics 2016: The seven teenagers still carrying a torch for our Games hopes

    Still carrying the torch

    The seven teenagers given our Olympic hopes
    The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis, but history suggests otherwise

    The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis...

    ...but history suggests otherwise
    The bald truth: How one author's thinning hair made him a Wayne Rooney sympathiser

    The bald truth

    How thinning hair made me a Wayne Rooney sympathiser
    Froome wins second Tour de France after triumphant ride into Paris with Team Sky

    Tour de France 2015

    Froome rides into Paris to win historic second Tour
    Fifteen years ago, Concorde crashed, and a dream died. Today, the desire to travel faster than the speed of sound is growing once again

    A new beginning for supersonic flight?

    Concorde's successors are in the works 15 years on from the Paris crash