And the Oscar Nominees Are...

Avatar and The Hurt Locker lead with nine nods each, Up is double-dipping, and the Sandra and Meryl feud continues. VIEW OUR GALLERY of the nominees for Hollywood’s biggest night.

After months of speculation and a half-dozen other award shows, the nominees for this year’s Academy Awards are in. Announced this morning in usual rapid-fire succession by Academy president Tom Sherak and Anne Hathaway (who picked up the Woman of the Year award from Harvard’s Hasty Pudding Theatricals this weekend), the nominations were about what was expected, with a few exceptions (congrats, Colin Firth, on A Single Man).

Nearly all of Oscar night’s hype this year comes from the Academy’s expansion of the Best Picture race to a record 10 films—an original, but perhaps better-executed idea if 2009 had contained more than a handful of worthy nominees. Still, AMPAS soldiered on through the year’s slim pickings: Up broke out of the animated film category, audience favorite The Blind Side was recognized, and District 9, An Education, and A Serious Man were the semi-surprise entrants to the race, joining favorites The Hurt Locker, Avatar, Inglourious Basterds, Up in the Air, and Precious.

Click Image to View Our Gallery of the 2010 Oscar Nominees

As expected, the Best Actress field held no surprises, but it will be a real race—perhaps the only race in the acting categories—between Meryl Streep’s performance in Julie & Julia and Sandra Bullock for The Blind Side. The Hurt Locker’s Jeremy Renner picked up a Best Actor nomination, one of an astounding nine for the gritty Iraq war film. Its director, Kathryn Bigelow, (the first woman to win the usually prescient Directors Guild of America award for best-directed feature film) will battle it out for Best Director against ex-husband James Cameron ( Avatar), Quentin Tarantino ( Inglorious Basterds), Lee Daniels ( Precious), and Jason Reitman ( Up in the Air).

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But the real draws this year aren’t the overstuffed ballots or the 360-degree “glam cams” on the red carpet. After Hugh Jackman’s earnest song and dance routine last year, Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin will share hosting duties for the Oscars telecast. With the comedic duo promising to inflame their long-running faux feud, it almost doesn’t matter who takes home the trophies. Forget Sandra versus Meryl, we’re signing up for three hours of Steve against Alec. Get out your scorecards—the 82nd Annual Academy Awards air March 7 on ABC.

Click Below to Watch the Oscar Announcement

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