The Oscar for art direction honors the people responsible for the scenic look of a film. This includes the construction of sets, painting, decor, etc. More often than not, the academy recognizes two or more people for the award, one as art director and the other (or others) as set decorator. The award was originally called Interior Decoration and was first awarded in 1928.
This year's nominees:
Rick Carter, Robert Stomberg, Kim Sinclair, Avatar: This is the 2nd nomination for Carter, the 1st for Stromberg and 1st for Sinclair. The trio also received a BAFTA nomination.
David Warren, Anastasia Masaro, Caroline Smith, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus: This is the 1st nomination for all three. They have received no other awards or nominations for their work on The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus.
John Myhre, Gordon Sim, Nine: This is the 4th nomination for Myhre who has previously won twice (Memoirs of a Geisha, Chicago). This is the 2nd nomination for Sim, who has won once (Chiago). The two have not received any other awards or nominations for their work on Nine.
Sarah Greenwood, Katie Spencer, Sherlock Holmes: This is the 3rd nomination for both Greenwood and Spencer. They are also nominated for the Art Directors Guild Award.
Patrice Vermette, Maggie Grey, The Young Victoria: This is the 1st nomination for Vermette and the 2nd for Grey. They have not received any other awards or nominations for their work on The Young Victoria.