British stars Colin Firth, Helen Mirren and Carey Mulligan have been nominated for best actor and best actress Oscars.

Firth is up for his first Oscar for his role as a gay academic mourning the death of his partner in fashion designer Tom Ford's debut feature film A Single Man.

Newcomer Carey Mulligan, 24, is up for best actress for her role in An Education, based on the memoirs of journalist Lynn Barber.

Previous Academy Award winner Dame Helen gets a go at a second Oscar for her performance as writer Leo Tolstoy's wife in The Last Station.

Up In The Air led the field at the Academy Awards nominations ceremony, which was held at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills today.

The film, starring George Clooney, was nominated for six awards, including Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, and director Jason Reitman in the running for the Best Director Oscar.

Clooney was recognised in the Best Actor category, while his co-stars Vera Farmiga and Anna Kendrick received nods for the Best Supporting Actress prize.

Precious, starring Mariah Carey, Gabourey Sidibe and Mo’Nique is up for five awards, including Best Film, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Actress for Gabourey and Best Supporting Actress for Mo’Nique.

Firth, 49, who recently had a singing role in Mamma Mia!, said of his nomination: "I thought I was managing my expectations, but on hearing the news I discovered new and unfamiliar vocal tones. Perhaps I should do another musical."

Further British interest included political comedy In The Loop, which saw Jess Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci and Tony Roche jointly nominated for best adapted screenplay, along with Nick Hornby, who was nominated for An Education.

War dramas Inglourious Basterds and The Hurt Lockers both received four nominations, while James Cameron’s sci-fi epic Avatar received two nods.

Cameron is up for the Best Director prize, which will see him compete against his former wife Kathryn Bigelow, who is nominated for her work on The Hurt Locker.

For the first time, there are 10 movies nominated for Best Picture. They are: Avatar, The Hurt Locker, The Blind Side, District 9, An Education, Inglourious Basterds, Precious, A Serious Man, Up and Up in the Air.

Matt Damon, Morgan Freeman and Sandra Bullock are also nominated for Oscars.

The 82nd Annual Academy Awards will take place on March 7 at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood.

List of nominations for the 2010 Academy Awards:
Best Picture:
The Blind Side
District 9
An Education
The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds
A Serious Man
Up In The Air

Best Actress:
Sandra Bullock – The Blind Side
Helen Mirren – The Last Station
Carey Mulligan – An Education
Gabourey Sidibe – Precious
Meryl Streep – Julie and Julia

Best Actor:
Jeff Bridges – Crazy Heart
George Clooney – Up in the Air
Colin Firth – A Single Man
Morgan Freeman – Invictus
Jeremy Renner – The Hurt Locker

Best Supporting Actress:
Penelope Cruz – Nine
Vera Farmiga – Up in the Air
Maggie Gyllenhaal – Crazy Heart
Anna Kendrick – Up in the Air
Mo’nique – Precious

Best Supporting Actor:
Matt Damon – Invictus
Woody Harrelson – The Messenger
Christopher Plummer – The Last Station
Stanley Tucci – The Lovely Bones
Christoph Waltz – Inglourious Basterds

Best Director:
James Cameron – Avatar
Kathryn Bigelow – The Hurt Locker
Quentin Tarantino – Inglourious Basterds
Lee Daniels – Precious
Jason Reitman – Up in the Air

Best Original Screenplay:
Marc Boal – The Hurt Locker
Quentin Tarantino – Inglourious Basterds
Alessandro Camon and Oren Moverman – The Messenger
Joel Coen and Ethan Coen – A Serious Man
Pete Docter, Bob Peterson, Tom McCarthy – Up

Best Adapted Screenplay:
Neill Blomkamp and Terri Tatchell – District 9
Nick Hornby – An Education
Jess Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci and Tony Roche – In the Loop
Geoffrey Fletcher – Precious
Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner – Up in the Air

Best Foreign Language Film
El Secreto de sus Ojos
The Milk of Sorrow
Un Prophete
The White Ribbon

Best Animated Feature:
Fantastic Mr. Fox
The Princess and the Frog
The Secret of Kells