Oscar Nominations are Just Hours Away

Announcement Scheduled for 5:30a.m.

NBC 5 News

Nominations will be announced Tuesday for the 82nd  Academy Awards, but even with an expanded field of 10 nominees in the best- picture category, the race for best picture will likely come down to a duel  between box-office smash ``Avatar'' and Iraq war drama ``The Hurt Locker.''

The high-flying relationship tale ``Up in the Air'' and director Quentin  Tarantino's World War II yarn ``Inglourious Basterds'' are also likely to  wind up on the best picture list.
The gripping abused-teen drama ``Precious: Based on the Novel `Push' by  Sapphire'' is also a likely contender. With the expanded field of nominees,  films such as ``An Education,'' ``Julie & Julia,'' ``The Blind Side,'' 
``Invictus'' and the animated ``Up'' all have shot at earning spots on the  list.

``The Hurt Locker,'' director Kathryn Bigelow's portrayal of an elite  bomb-defusing unit in Iraq, won the top prize from the Producers Guild of  America -- an honor that traditionally foreshadows a best-picture win on Oscar  night.
Bigelow also was named best director by the Directors Guild of America.

James Cameron's fantasy ``Avatar'' was named best drama film at the  Golden Globe Awards, and ``Inglourious Basterds'' was named best ensemble cast  by the Screen Actors Guild, giving them both momentum heading into Oscar  season.

Bigelow's win at the DGA Awards also makes her the likely pick for best  director. The winner of the DGA feature film award has gone on to win the  Academy Award for best director all but six times since 1948.

Cameron -- who is Bigelow's ex-husband -- will also likely be nominated  in the category, along with Lee Daniels for ``Precious,'' Jason Reitman for  ``Up in the Air'' and Tarantino for ``Inglourious Basterds.''

Jeff Bridges, whose spot-on performance as an aging, alcoholic country  singer in ``Crazy Heart'' has already won him best actor prizes at the Golden  Globe and SAG awards, is the clear front-runner to take home the Oscar.
George  Clooney will likely be nominated for his portrayal of an oft-traveling and  relationship-challenged businessman in ``Up in the Air.''

Jeremy Renner is also a good bet for his turn as the leader of the bomb  squad in ``The Hurt Locker,'' while Morgan Freeman should earn yet another  Oscar nominations for his role as Nelson Mandela in the Clint Eastwood-directed  ``Invictus.''

Golden Globe and SAG winner Sandra Bullock is a heavy favorite in the  best-actress category for her portrayal of a strong-willed southern housewife  who takes in a black teenager and helps foster his football career in ``The  Blind Side.''
She will likely face another challenge from perennial awards- season favorite Meryl Streep, who turned in a stellar performance as cooking  legend Julia Child in ``Julie & Julia.''

Newcomer Gabourey Sidibe is also a likely nominee for her role as the  bused teen in ``Precious.'' Young actress Carey Mulligan, who played a  schoolgirl being courted by an older suitor in ``An Education,'' should also  land on the list.
Mo'Nique (``Precious'') and Christoph Waltz (``Inglourious Basterds'')  are strong favorites to win the supporting acting awards, with both having  already claimed Golden Globe and SAG Awards.

The nominations will be announced at 5:30 a.m. by actress Anne Hathaway  and Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences President Tom Sherak at the  Academy's Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills.

The Oscars will be presented March 7 at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood,  with Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin -- who co-starred in the romantic comedy  ``It's Complicated'' -- co-hosting the ceremony.

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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