Nominees for the 82nd annual Academy Awards were announced on Tuesday at the American Motion Picture Academy in Beverly Hills, California.  

An immensely popular science fiction adventure and a gripping battlefield drama lead the field with nine nominations apiece.

The critically-acclaimed Iraq war drama The Hurt Locker: "What's the best way to go about disarming one of these things?"
"The way you don't die, sir."

The Hurt Locker follows an Army bomb squad attempting to disarm IEDs - improvised explosive devices - on the streets of Baghdad during the Iraq War.  Its director, Kathryn Bigelow, is up for best director as is her former spouse, James Cameron, who is nominated for Avatar.

Science fiction epic Avatar: "You are not in Kansas anymore; you're on Pandora."
"You should not be here.  Go back."

Set on a lush, tropical moon in a distant galaxy, Avatar has captivated audiences worldwide with its environmentally-themed story shot in 3-D and amazingly realistic, digitally-created characters.

The Oscar nominations in most of the 24 categories - from directing to writing, film editing to sound mixing, makeup to production design and, of course, acting - are chosen by peer branches within the Motion Picture Academy - that is, actors choose the acting nominees, cinematographers pick the cinematography finalists and so on.

But all of the 5,800 voting members of the Academy cast a ballot for Best Picture.  This year, the Academy doubled the field for that top award to 10 films.

Actress Anne Hathaway read that list at the announcement ceremony.

"The 10 films selected as Best Picture nominees for 2009 are: Avatar, The Blind Side, District Nine, An Education, The Hurt Locker, Inglorious Bastards, Precious, A Serious Man, Up" and Up in the Air."

Best Actor contenders are Jeff Bridges, George Clooney, Colin Firth, Morgan Freeman and Jeremy Renner.

Vying for Best Actress are Sandra Bullock, Helen Mirren, Carey Mulligan, Gabourey Sidibe and Meryl Streep, who earned her 16th career nomination.

The nominees for Best Foreign Language Film include entries from Israel, Argentina, Peru, France and Germany.   

The Academy Award winners will be revealed in a star-studded ceremony, scheduled to be televised worldwide on March 7.