Ross Bonaime, Staff Writer

This year at the Oscar’s, the Davids are heading off against the Goliaths.

For the first time since 1943, the Academy Awards will have ten films nominated for best picture, double the usual number of five, after there was criticism of films like The Dark Knight being left off the list of the year’s best. But this year, while the smaller films are represented once again, with An Education, The Hurt Locker, Precious, A Serious Man and Up in the Air all nominated for best picture, so are five films which grossed over 100 million in the box office: The Blind Side, District 9, Inglorious Basterds, Up (only the second animated film ever to be nominated for best picture) and the highest grossing film of all time, Avatar.

Avatar and The Hurt Locker tied in nominations with nine apiece, with Inglorious Basterds close behind with eight. Precious and Up in the Air both garnered six nominations, Up received five and sci-fi films District 9 and Star Trek got four nominations, along with the musical Nine.

With best achievement in directing, James Cameron is nominated for Avatar against his ex-wife Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker.

A win for Bigelow would make her the first ever female to win the award. Also competing in the category are Lee Daniels for Precious, Jason Reitman for Up in the Air and Quentin Tarantino for Inglourious Basterds.

The best performance by an actor in a leading role nominees include Jeff Bridges for Crazy Heart, George Clooney for Up in the Air, Colin Firth for A Single Man, Morgan Freeman for Invictus and Jeremy Renner for The Hurt Locker.

While best performance by an actress in a leading role nominees include Helen Mirren for The Last Station, Carey Mulligan for An Education and Gabourey Sidibe for Precious, the two to watch will be Sandra Bullock for The Blind Side and Meryl Streep for Julie & Julia facing off after their tie for the same award at the Critics Choice Awards.

The nominations for supporting roles have strong favorites in Christoph Waltz for Inglorious Basterds and Mo’Nique for Precious.

Competing against Waltz for best supporting actor will be Matt Damon for Invictus, Woody Harrelson for The Messenger, Christopher Plummer in The Last Station and Stanley Tucci for The Lovely Bones.

Going against Mo’Nique in best supporting actress will be Penelope Cruz in Nine, Vera Farmiga and Anna Kendrick, both for Up in the Air, and Maggie Gyllenhaal for Crazy Heart.

Best original screenplay nominees included The Hurt Locker, Inglourious Basterds, The Messenger, A Serious Man and Up. Best adapted screenplay nominations went to District 9, An Education, surprise nominee In the Loop, Precious and Up in the Air.

For best animated feature film, the little-known Irish film The Secret of the Kells will face off against heavy-hitters like Coraline, Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Princess and the Frog and Up.

The winners will be announced for these awards and the rest of the nominees on Sunday, March 7th.