LOS ANGELES – The race for next year's Oscars got under way Monday as nomination ballot papers were posted to the 5,777 voters who will decide the movie industry's most prestigious awards.
Voting members of the Academy for Motion Picture Arts and Sciences receive ballot papers roughly one month ahead of the nominations announcement on February 2. Ballots must be returned by January 23, the Academy said.
A second round of ballots will be mailed out after the nominations announcement where members will cast their decisive votes to determine the winners at the March 7 awards in Hollywood.
Next year's Oscars race is expected to be one of the most wide open in years while the battle for the coveted best picture statuette has been expanded to include 10 nominees.
Recession-drama "Up In the Air", starring George Clooney, and James Cameron's science-fiction fantasy epic "Avatar" are among the leading early contenders for the top honor, according to pundits.