And the best pic Oscar noms go to—Avatar and District 9

After decades of sci-fi being dissed at the Oscars, James Cameron's blockbuster Avatar, the South African sci-fi film District 9 and the animated Up were nominated today in the best-picture category of the 82nd Academy Awards. In fact, Avatar and fellow best-picture nominee The Hurt Locker tied when it came to receiving the most nominations, with nine each, while Up scored five and District 9 got four.

And things could get even better for the sci-fi of it all when the Oscars are handed out on March 7, with Avatar and The Hurt Locker going head to head for the gold statue this year. Of course, that's not to preclude a dark horse like District 9 from sneaking in to win it all if the other two big favorites manage to cancel each other out.

Other non-sci-fi best-picture nominations went to The Blind Side, An Education, Inglourious Basterds, Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire, A Serious Man and Up in the Air.

This year the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences increased the number of nominations from the traditional five to 10, opening up the field for films that would have otherwise "been squeezed out of the race for the top prize," said Sid Ganis, president of the Academy. District 9 likely was a beneficiary of the larger best-picture pool.

When it came to best director, James Cameron (Avatar) and his ex-wife, Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker), continued their rivalry, and they were joined in the category by Quentin Tarantino (Inglourious Basterds), Lee Daniels (Precious) and Jason Reitman (Up in the Air). Bigelow just took home the Directors Guild award for best director this week, which is often considered a sign of what will happen in the Oscars' director category.

While Avatar, or perhaps even District 9 or Up, has a chance to take home the big prize of best picture, they still face decades of Hollywood bias against sci-fi films, despite the recent sci-fi love the awards shows have been showing. "Perhaps the biggest impediment to sci-fi's acceptance at Oscar time has been actors. With actors accounting for the largest branch of the academy (1,300 out of the body's 5,800 members), a genre that showcases ideas rather than performances is at a disadvantage," wrote the Los Angeles Times' Rebecca Keegan. Check out her article for more on the chances of a sci-fi film finally making it this year.

The absence of actor nominations is very apparent when it comes to this year's awards, with only Tucci receiving a nod for The Lovely Bones. However, perhaps this will finally be sci-fi's year. Certainly Avatar, which has taken best picture and director nods at the Golden Globes, is in the best position ever for a sci-fi win.

Avatar also scooped up nominations for this year's Oscars for art direction, cinematography, film editing, sound mixing, original score, film editing and visual effects. District 9 also grabbed nominations for best adapted screenplay, film editing and visual effects. And additional Up nominations were best original screenplay, sound editing and original score.

Animated feature-film nominees included Coraline, Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Princess and the Frog, The Secret of Kells and Up.

Other sci-fi, fantasy and animation nominations included Stanley Tucci for The Lovely Bones as best supporting actor, Star Trek for sound editing, makeup and visual effects, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus for art direction and costume design, Sherlock Holmes for art direction and original score, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince for cinematography, Fantastic Mr. Fox for original score, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen for sound mixing and Randy Newman for two songs from The Princess and the Frog.

Following is a complete list of the nominees for the 82nd Academy Awards. If you'd like to vote on whether Avatar should win best picture, head over to our sister site DVICE.

Best picture
The Blind Side
District 9
An Education
The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds
A Serious Man
Up in the Air

Best actor
Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart
George Clooney, Up in the Air
Colin Firth, A Single Man
Morgan Freeman, Invictus
Jeremy Renner, The Hurt Locker

Best actress
Sandra Bullock, The Blind Side
Helen Mirren, The Last Station
Carey Mulligan, An Education
Gabourey Sidibe, Precious
Meryl Streep, Julie & Julia

Best supporting actor
Matt Damon, Invictus
Woody Harrelson, The Messenger
Christopher Plummer, The Last Station
Stanley Tucci, The Lovely Bones
Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds

Best supporting actress
Penelope Cruz, Nine
Vera Farmiga, Up in the Air
Maggie Gyllenhaal, Crazy Heart
Anna Kendrick, Up in the Air
Mo'Nique, Precious

Best director
James Cameron, Avatar
Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker
Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds
Lee Daniels, Precious
Jason Reitman, Up in the Air

Best foreign-language film
Ajami, Israel
El Secreto de Sus Ojos, Argentina
The Milk of Sorrow, Peru
Un Prophete, France
The White Ribbon, Germany

Best 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
Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner, Up in the Air

Best 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

Best animated feature film
Fantastic Mr. Fox
The Princess and the Frog
The Secret of Kells

Best art direction
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
Sherlock Holmes
The Young Victoria

Best cinematography
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds
The White Ribbon

Best sound mixing
The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds
Star Trek
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

Best sound editing
The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds
Star Trek

Best 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

Best 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

Best costume design
Bright Star
Coco Before Chanel
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
The Young Victoria

Best documentary feature
Burma VJ
The Cove
Food, Inc.
The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers
Which Way Home

Best documentary short
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

Best film editing
District 9
The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds

Best makeup
Il Divo
Star Trek
The Young Victoria

Best animated short film
French Roast
Granny O'Grimm's Sleeping Beauty
The Lady and the Reaper (La Dama y la Muerte)
A Matter of Loaf and Death

Best live-action short film
The Door
Instead of Abracadabra
Miracle Fish
The New Tenants

Best visual effects
District 9
Star Trek

What movie do you think should win the Academy Award for best picture?

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