February 19, 2010 / 3:20 PM / in 8 years

Avatar, Hurt Locker, An Education lead BAFTA race

<p>Photographs of guests who will attend the BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) awards ceremony on Sunday are placed on seats at the Royal Opera House in London February 18, 2010.Toby Melville</p>

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.

Following is a list of the main BAFTA nominations:

* Best film - Avatar; An Education; The Hurt Locker; Precious; Up in the Air

* Outstanding British film - An Education; Fish Tank; In the Loop; Moon; Nowhere Boy

* Best director - James Cameron/Avatar; Neill Blomkamp/District 9; Lone Scherfig/An Education; Kathryn Bigelow/The Hurt Locker; Quentin Tarantino/Inglourious Basterds

* Foreign language film - Broken Embraces; Coco Before Chanel; Let The Right One In; A Prophet; The White Ribbon

* Animated film - Coraline; Fantastic Mr Fox; Up

* Leading actor - Jeff Bridges/Crazy Heart; George Clooney/Up in the Air; Colin Firth/A Single Man; Jeremy Renner/The Hurt Locker; Andy Serkis/Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll

* Leading actress - Carey Mulligan/An Education; Saoirse Ronan/The Lovely Bones; Gabourey Sidibe/Precious; Meryl Streep/Julie & Julia; Audrey Tautou/Coco Before Chanel

* Supporting actor - Alec Baldwin/It's Complicated; Christian McKay/Me and Orson Welles; Alfred Molina/An Education; Stanley Tucci/The Lovely Bones; Christoph Waltz/Inglourious Basterds

* Supporting actress - Anne-Marie Duff/Nowhere Boy; Vera Farmiga/Up in the Air; Anna Kendrick/Up in the Air; Mo'Nique/Precious; Kristin Scott Thomas/Nowhere Boy.

Reporting by Mike Collett-White in Berlin; Editing by Steve Addison

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