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'Hurt Locker,' 'Avatar' square off at British Academy Film Awards

LONDON — Gritty Iraq thriller "The Hurt Locker" and blockbuster eco-extravaganza "Avatar" are squaring off at the British Academy Film Awards — a possible preview of their showdown at the Academy Awards in Los Angeles next month.

Each film has eight nominations for today's prizes, including best picture and best director for "Avatar's" James Cameron and "Hurt Locker's" Kathryn Bigelow, former spouses turned awards-season rivals.

The two directors, who were married from 1989 to 1991, are also going head to head at the March 7 Oscars, where their films have nine nominations apiece.

The British awards, known as BAFTAs, are considered an important indicator of likely Oscar success. Last year, Danny Boyle's underdog picture "Slumdog Millionaire" won seven BAFTAs, including best film; it went on to win eight Oscars.