Intermittent downpours pounded the tent over the red carpet at the Kodak Theater tonight, as stars gathered for the first Academy Awards with 10 best-picture nominees since 1943. Voters are expected to go very big or very small on their best-picture winner, with the two favorites the as-big-as-it-gets blockbuster Avatar and the critical darling The Hurt Locker, which drew a tiny fraction of the audience its mammoth competitor pulled in.
Either movie would represent a first at the Oscars. James Cameron's Avatar would be the only science-fiction film ever to take home the best-picture prize. While war films have done well at the Oscars, Kathryn Bigelow's The Hurt Locker would be the first winner centered on the war on terror, a subject that has stirred little interest among movie audiences, notes the AP. The other eight films competing for best picture: the football drama The Blind Side, the sci-fi thriller District 9, the British teen tale An Education, the World War II saga Inglourious Basterds, the Harlem story Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire, the Jewish domestic chronicle A Serious Man, the animated adventure Up, and the recession-era yarn Up in the Air.