LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - The World War II tale "Inglourious Basterds" and the Rome-set musical "Nine" led the contenders for the 15th annual Critics' Choice Movie Awards, announced early Monday, with ten nominations each.
The 3-D sci-fi film "Avatar" followed with nine nominations, while "The Hurt Locker" and "Up in the Air" received eight each.
The awards, which will be handed out on January 15 at ceremonies broadcast from the Hollywood Palladium by VH1, expanded this year from 17 to 25 categories, adding seven technical categories and separating its screenplay category into original and adapted slots.
Since the critics group also includes genre categories like best action movie and best comedy as well as awards for best acting ensemble and best young actor/actress, that opened the door for plenty of multiple nominations.
Saoirse Ronan, the 15-year-old actress who plays a murdered girl in "The Lovely Bones," scored dual nominations as best actress and best young actress. "Up" was nominated for both best picture and best animated feature. And three of the nominees in the action category -- "Avatar," "Basterds" and "Locker" -- were also included in the best picture roundup.
Casting a wide net, the 235-member Broadcast Film Critics Association, nominated ten movies for best picture: "Avatar," "An Education," "Locker," "Basterds," "Invictus," "Nine," "Precious," "A Serious Man," "Up" and "Up in the Air."
Nominated for best actor were: Jeff Bridges, playing a down-on-his-luck country singer in "Crazy Heart"; George Clooney," starring as a corporate road warrior in "Up in the Air"; Colin Firth, appearing as a gay man coming to terms with the death of his long-time lover in "A Single Man"; Morgan Freeman, who channels Nelson Mandela in "Invictus"; Viggo Mortenson, who headlines "The Road" as a father struggling in a post-apocalyptic world; and Jeremy Renner, who plays a soldier who defuses bombs in "Locker."
In the best actress category, the nominees were: Emily Blunt, who captures Queen Victoria's rise to power in "The Young Victoria"; Sandra Bullock, playing a suburban wife who takes in a homeless teen in "The Blind Side"; Carey Mulligan, appearing as a young student experiencing her first taste of the adult world in "An Education"; Ronan, whose character looks back on her life from heaven in "Bones"; Gabourey Sidibe, who has the title role of an abused, inner-city teen in "Precious" and "Meryl Streep," who cooks up a storm as Julia Child in "Julie & Julia."
"Up in the Air" earned nominations for both Vera Farmiga and Anna Kendrick in the supporting actress category, where the other nominees were Marion Cotillard, "Nine"; Mo'Nique, "Precious"; Julianne Moore, "A Single Man"; and Samantha Morton, "The Messenger."
Nominated as best supporting actor were Matt Damon, "Invictus"; Woody Harrelson, "The Messenger"; Christian McKay, "Me and Orson Welles"; Alfred Molina, "An Education"; Stanley Tucci, "Bones" and Cristoph Waltz, "Basterds."
Kathryn Bigelow was the sole woman nominated in the directing category for her work on "Locker." Also nominated were James Cameron, "Avatar"; Lee Daniels, "Precious"; Clint Eastwood, "Invictus"; Jason Reitman, "Up in the Air" and Quentin Tarantino, "Basterds."