Breathe easy geeks.  “The Dark Knight” is in.

Like the SAG Award nominations last month, the industry plays close attention to anytime the guilds start dolling out their annual awards.  Why you ask? Because many of them are actually in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences as well.  By placing Christopher Nolan’s critically acclaimed commercial blockbuster in its top five, the Producers sent a shot out across the bow that the picture is worth of serious Oscar consideration (something SAG failed to do by not including it as one of its Best Ensemble nominees).

So, while Christopher Nolan can smile this morning (and will no doubt have a wider grin when he receives a Director’s Guild nomination later this week), there are no doubt disappointed filmmakers and producers around town.  It appears today’s announcement makes their Oscar chances of slipping into the big dance even slighter. 

It was widely believed even before the holidays that “Slumdog Millionaire,” “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” and “Frost/Nixon” were locks.  Those willing to take a bigger chance, including this prognosticator, put “The Dark Night” into that same category for reasons to numerous to recap here.  The question was the fifth slot and, for the moment, appears to be “Milk’s” to loose.

The Gus Van Sant biopic received glowing reviews (seriously, it’s good, but not that good) and Sean Penn has been the winner of a number of key critics awards. However, its box office performance has been somewhat disappointing.  No one is saying it should do “Brokeback Mountain” numbers, that’s ridiculous.  And yet, when “Doubt,” “Gran Torino” and “Slumdog” are comparatively either leaving you in their dust or about to, that can’t be good.  Still, with this nomination and the Best Ensemble nod from SAG last month, it’s hard to imagine any picture knocking “Milk” out of the running at this point.  And that’s very bad news for “Revolutionary Road” and “Doubt.”

The only solace “Road” and “Doubt” producer Scott Rudin can take today, besides the fact he has a glistening best picture statue for “No Country for Old Men” in his living room or office, is that both films will be fixtures at the show with numerous acting and writing nominations. 

Numerous industry types also continue to proclaim that “WALL-E” can sneak in as a best picture nominee, but don’t buy it.  It might have made the animated category for PGA, but when there already is a Best Animated Feature category, it’s hard for voters to justify slotting it with the live action releases.

So, all is set right?  No need to watch the nomination announcement on the 22nd. 

Hardly.

One of the three has a week to surprise and knock off the tepid box office performer “Frost/Nixon”  Yes, awards consultants, your Variety and LA Times ad are standing by.