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BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) -- The science-fiction sensation "Avatar" and the war-on-terror thriller "The Hurt Locker" lead the Academy Awards with nine nominations each, including best picture and director for James Cameron and ex-wife Kathryn Bigelow.

For the first time the Oscars feature 10 best-picture contenders instead of the usual five.

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Also nominated for best-picture Tuesday: "District 9"; the animated comedy "Up"; the World War II saga "Inglourious Basterds"; the football drama "The Blind Side"; the recession tale "Up in The Air," the 1960s drama "A Serious Man," and the teen tales "An Education," and "Precious."

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Acting nominees include Sandra Bullock for "The Blind Side," Jeff Bridges for "Crazy Heart," Mo'Nique for "Precious" and Christoph Waltz for "Inglourious Basterds."