"Avatar", "The Hurt Locker", "An Education" lead BAFTA race

Fri Feb 19, 2010 5:05am EST
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LONDON (Reuters) - Mirroring the Oscars, Britain's top film awards the BAFTAs pit 3-D blockbuster "Avatar" against low-budget Iraq war drama "The Hurt Locker", directed by former husband and wife James Cameron and Kathryn Bigelow respectively.

The movies have eight nominations each, as does British film "An Education", going into the awards ceremony on Sunday.

Cameron's Avatar is the most successful movie of all time at the box office with global ticket sales of $2.4 billion. It broke the record held by "Titanic", also directed by Cameron.

At the other end of the scale, The Hurt Locker, about a U.S. bomb disposal unit working under intense psychological pressure, has taken less than $18 million in ticket sales worldwide, according to tracking website boxofficemojo.com.

Avatar was nominated for best film, director, cinematography, editing, music, production design, sound and special visual effects.

The Hurt Locker is on the shortlist for best film, director, original screenplay, actor, cinematography, editing, sound and special visual effects.

An Education, a coming-of-age film set in 1961, is contesting best film, British film, director, actress, supporting actor, adapted screenplay, costume design and make up & hair.

Among the big Hollywood names in contention are Quentin Tarantino for best director for World War Two caper "Inglourious Basterds", George Clooney for best actor ("Up in the Air") and Meryl Streep ("Julie & Julia").

The BAFTAs come with the awards season in full swing, although they are an unreliable guide to the movie world's biggest prize, the Academy Awards. The Oscars are announced on March 7.   Continued...