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With nine nominations each, “Avatar” and “The Hurt Locker” led the pack as the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences opened up its best picture Oscar race to 10 nominees for the first time since 1943.

Nominated for best picture are: The blockbuster “Avatar,” the morally uplifting “The Blind Side,” the femme-centric coming-of-age-tale, “An Education,” the Iraq-set “The Hurt Locker,” the South African sci-fi tale “District 9″ revisionist World War II tale “Inglourious Basterds,” the dysfunctional family drama “Precious,” modern-day Job story “A Serious Man,” the animated “Up” and the high-flying look at a downsizing America, “Up in the Air.”

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With the unveiling of nominations for the 82nd annual Academy Awards on Tuesday morning, Meryl Streep earned her 16th Oscar nomination for whipping up a mean omelet in “Julie & Julia,” while Sandra Bullock captured her first nom for playing a suburban mom who takes a homeless teen into her home in “Blind.”

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Also nominated for best actress are Helen Mirren, who fights for control of her husband Leo Tolstoy’s legacy in “The Last Station”; Carey Mulligan, who plays a British school girl eager to taste life in “An Education”; and Gabourey Sidibe, who is seen as an abused inner-city teen in “Precious.”

Read more HERE.