The competition for Hollywood's highest honors has begun with the announcement Tuesday in Los Angeles of this year's nominations for the 82nd Academy Awards.
As expected, James Cameron's $500 million blockbuster Avatar received a Best Picture nomination. And Cameron's former wife, Kathryn Bigelow, was nominated for The Hurt Locker, a gritty war film set in Iraq. Bigelow would be the first female director to win Best Picture.
Hollywood author Tom O'Neil says the race between the former couple adds more drama to the competition. "We have a classic David-versus-Goliath battle here for Best Picture at the Oscars . The most successful movie ever made, Avatar, up against a movie that lost money, The Hurt Locker - directed by the former Mrs. Goliath, Kathryn Bigelow. This race has all kinds of dimensions to it," he said.
For the first time since 1943, 10 films are competing for the coveted Best Picture award.
Entertainment reporter Sam Rubin says that means greater interest in the Academy Awards ceremony March 7th. "The Oscars are a television show," he explained. "So the idea is to increase ratings and interest in the television show."
The Best Picture films run the gamut of movie genres and several go against long-standing Academy trends. Up is a heartwarming tale about new beginnings -- only the second animated film ever nominated.
District Nine represents another departure -- a tale of science fiction -- like the box office hit Avatar.
"No science-fiction movie has ever won Best Picture. Only two have been nominated in the past: Star Wars and E.T. Two are nominated for Best Picture now," O'Neil said.
Best Picture nominee Precious is a drama about the struggles of an inner-city teen, and its director, Lee Daniels, is also nominated in the Best Director category. He is first African-American director to get a Best Picture nomination.
The other Best Picture nominees are An Education, The Blind Side, Inglourious Basterds, A Serious Man, and Up in the Air.
Over the past 20 years, the film with the most nominations has won best picture 15 times --making Avatar and The Hurt Locker the favorites.
(report narrated by Marissa Melton)