Avatar and The Hurt Locker each have nine nominations for this year's Oscars, including best movie.
James Cameron and his former wife Kathryn Bigelow are also in contention in the best director category.
For the first time since 1944, there are 10 best picture contenders instead of five.
Others nominees for the best motion picture award are: Up in the Air, The Blind Side, Precious:Based on the Novel "Push" by Sapphire], District 9, Up, A Serious Man, Inglourious Basterds and An Education.
Nominees for best actor are Jeff Bridges, George Clooney, Colin Firth, Morgan Freeman and Jeremy Renner.
Nominees for best actress are Sandra Bullock, Helen Mirren, Carey Mulligan, Gabbourey Sidibe and Meryl Streep.
Best supporting actress nominees are Penelope Cruz, Vera Farmiga , Maggie Gyllenhaal, Anna Kendrick and Mo'Nique.
Best supporting actor nominees are Matt Damon, Woody Harrelson, Christopher Plummer, Stanley Tucci and Christoph Waltz.
Avatar, which was recently named the highest grossing film of all time, won two Golden Globes recently.
Cameron won three Oscars in 1998 for Titanic, which included best picture, director and film editing.
Bigelow's films include Point Break and K19: The Widowmaker.
The Hurt Locker, about bomb disposal team in Iraq, has won widespread critical acclaim and triumphed at the Directors Guild of America awards.
No woman director has ever won the Oscars top prize. The Academy Awards will be held on 7 March.