Oscar nomination observations:
* Expanding the Best Picture race to 10 nominees (which I'm still against) was supposed to broaden the appeal of the Oscar awards show, and it might just work. Some insiders, however, think it has cleared the way for films that aren't deserving.
The final list included all the critics' favorites ( "Avatar," "Precious," "The Hurt Locker," "Inglourious Basterds," "Up in the Air" ), but it also opened the door for animation ( "Up," only the second animated film to be nominated for best picture — " Beauty and the Beast" was the first in 1991), a festival favorite ( "An Education" ) and a sci-fi longshot ( "District 9" ).
Coming out of nowhere was Joel and Ethan Coen's " A Serious Man," which many critics hoped would get nominated but didn't think had the momentum, and " The Blind Side," the football drama that has been a crowd-pleaser but that many thought hardly worthy of best picture.
* Maggie Gyllenhaal was a complete surprise for her nomination as supporting actress for "Crazy Heart." Aside from hers, I predicted all the other 19 acting nominees correctly in the column I wrote Sunday.
* " (500) Days of Summer" failed to get a nod for best original screenplay, which many thought it would.
* Kathryn Bigelow ("The Hurt Locker,") is the fourth woman to be nominated for a directing Oscar and only the second American woman (Sofia Coppola was nominated in 2003 for "Lost in Translation"). If she wins, Bigelow will be the first woman to receive the award.
And, in the "too close for comfort" category, Bigelow is up against her ex-husband, James Cameron, who is nominated for "Avatar."
* Meryl Streep remains the performer with the most Oscar nominations, bringing her total to 16 with this year's best-actress nod for "Julie & Julia."
Here are the nominees in major categories:
"The Blind Side"
"The Hurt Locker"
"Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire"
"A Serious Man"
"Up in the Air"
Jeff Bridges, "Crazy Heart"
George Clooney, "Up in the Air"
Colin Firth, "A Single Man"
Morgan Freeman, "Invictus"
Jeremy Renner, "The Hurt Locker"
Sandra Bullock, "The Blind Side"
Helen Mirren, "The Last Station"
Carey Mulligan, "An Education"
Gabourey Sidibe, "Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire"
Meryl Streep, "Julie & Julia"
Matt Damon, "Invictus"
Woody Harrelson, "The Messenger"
Christopher Plummer, "The Last Station"
Stanley Tucci, "The Lovely Bones"
Christoph Waltz, "Inglourious Basterds"
Penelope Cruz, "Nine"
Vera Farmiga, "Up in the Air"
Maggie Gyllenhaal, "Crazy Heart"
Anna Kendrick, "Up in the Air"
Mo'Nique, "Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire"
Kathryn Bigelow, "The Hurt Locker"
James Cameron, "Avatar"
Jason Reitman, "Up in the Air"
Quentin Tarantino, "Inglourious Basterds"
Lee Daniels, "Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire"