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'American Hustle,' 'Gravity' lead Oscar nominations

Nominees for the Academy Awards best actor category Matthew McConaughey, Leonardo DiCaprio, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Christian Bale and Bruce Dern (clockwise from top left) appear in a combination photo. The nominations for the 86th Academy Awards were announced in Beverly Hills, California January 16, 2014. The Oscars will be presented in Hollywood, California March 2, 2014. REUTERS/Files

By Mary Milliken and Nichola Groom

BEVERLY HILLS, California (Reuters) - Con-men caper "American Hustle" and space thriller "Gravity" led Oscar nominees on Thursday with 10 nominations each, including best picture, in the race for the world's top film prize.

Slavery drama "12 Years a Slave" received nine nominations, including in the best picture category, in a year crowded with high-quality films.

Those three films will be joined by six others in the best picture competition: "Captain Phillips," "Dallas Buyers Club," "Her," "Nebraska," "Philomena," and "The Wolf of Wall Street."

Members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences may nominate up to 10 films for best picture, but only chose nine this year. A notable exclusion was the Coen Brothers' "Inside Llewyn Davis," which had won some top critics' awards.

The Somali piracy thriller "Captain Phillips," the AIDS activism tale "Dallas Buyers Club," and heartland comedy "Nebraska" each secured six nominations. Director Martin Scorsese's cautionary tale on financial greed, "The Wolf of Wall Street," followed with five, as did the quirky computer-age romance, "Her."

Eight individuals in the acting categories are first-time nominees, including Chiwetel Ejiofor as the free man sold into slavery in "12 Years a Slave." He will compete in the best actor race withMatthew McConaughey, the Golden Globe winner last Sunday for his role as the unlikely AIDS crusader in "Dallas Buyers Club."

Meryl Streep extended her lead as the most nominated performer with an 18th nomination, this year for best actress as the matriarch in "August: Osage County." She goes up against fellowOscar winners Sandra Bullock as the astronaut lost in space in "Gravity" and Cate Blanchett as the riches-to-rags socialite in Woody Allen's "Blue Jasmine."

The Academy will hand out the Oscars at a ceremony hosted by comedian Ellen DeGeneres in Los Angeles on March 2.

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