It's been too long since Oscar has been given its due on HitFix, but thank the Grammys and a busy news week for the delay (sigh, what we'd do for an extra set of hands).

What's the buzz with less than a week left until ballots are due?  More than you’d think.  "Slumdog's" lock for Best Picture aside (yeah, I said it), there is actually an unexpected amount of uncertainty in some other major categories.  Here's a rundown:

In somewhat of a surprise, Penelope Cruz appears to be getting some major competition from Viola Davis in the Best Supporting Actress category.  Don't be shocked if you see the "Doubt" star accepting a gold statue on Oscar Sunday.

The biggest drama of the night may come down to Meryl Streep vs. Kate Winslet.  The star of "The Reader" ruled the Globes and last weekend's BAFTAs, but Streep took home the key SAG win.  Sure, the cinema icon was going up against Winslet's "Revolutionary Road" performance (Winslet won supporting for "Reader"), but it's still a major win head-to-head.  Will the large SAG contingent in the Academy change their vote?  We doubt it (no pun intended).

Mickey Rourke had a nice BAFTA win, which leads credibility to a real race between the comeback kid and Sean Penn's highly lauded performance in "Milk."  However, Penn's SAG win a few weeks earlier is a stronger indicator of how the Academy will vote and Rourke's winning would still constitute a huge upset...but it's not improbable.

The Best Original Screenplay category comes down to Andrew Stanton and friends for "WALL-E" and Dustin Lance Black for the improbable feat of finally getting "Milk" made. The question is which movie does the Academy want to reward more?  Is it Black for "Milk," to make sure the film, that received eight nominations, wins for more than just Penn's performance?  Or, double the recognition for one of Pixar's most acclaimed pictures yet?

          There have also been a number of reports on what to expect during this year's "surprise-filled" show.  Considering the number of leaks on what producer Larry Mark and executive producer Bill Condon had fashioned as secret, it's nice to know a non-disclosure agreement is worth as much as a Morgan Stanley stock portfolio these days.  Look for an update on what's in and what's out of the show later this week. 

          As for next week?  A new “you can take it to Vegas” Oscar category prediction every day and a sit down interview with Independent Spirit Awards host Steve Coogan

          Hold yourself back with excitement.  Oscar Sunday is almost here.

           

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