Colin Firth has been nominated for an Oscar for his performance as a gay professor in A Single Man.

Nominations for the annual awards were announced yesterday and the star is in the running for best actor, his first Oscar nomination.

He will compete with Jeff Bridges in Crazy Heart, George Clooney in Up In The Air, Morgan Freeman in Invictus and Jeremy Renner in The Hurt Locker.

A Single Man is gay fashion designer Tom Ford’s directorial debut, based on Christopher Isherwood’s 1964 novel.

It has received excellent reviews since premiering at the Venice Film Festival in September. In the film, Firth’s character struggles with loneliness after his partner dies.

Ford has rejected suggestions his film is a “gay story”, saying: “It just seems to me a human story.”

The Hurt Locker, directed by Kathryn Bigelow, leads the nominations with James Cameron’s Avatar. Both are in the running for nine awards.

If Bigelow wins best director, she would be the first woman in the awards’ history to scoop the honour.