So, things have been so busy in HitFix land (i.e., Sundance) that I've been negligent in getting back to what's really important in life: Oscar!

As you're reading this, the nomination votes are being tabulated and point nervous studio execs and awards season consultants are looking forward to a two-day delay in the announcements thanks to the Presidential Inauguration.  Nominees will be announced on Thursday, Jan. 22, bright and early at 8:30 AM EST and the HitFix team will be there breaking it all down (those of us not in Park City it seems).  With that in mind, here are my first set of nomination predictions I've already submitted as a participant in Movie City News' Gurus of Gold and The Envelope's Buzzmeter.  I'll have more catgory pics in a few days.

Best Picture
"Slumdog Millionaire"
"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"
"The Dark Knight"
"Milk"
"Frost/Nixon"

Lowdown: There's a chance either "Milk" or "Frost/Nixon" could get knocked out by "WALL-E" or "The Reader" (really), but it seems unlikely at this point.

Best Director
Danny Boyle, "Slumdog Millionaire"
David Fincher, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"
Gus Van Sant, " Milk"
Christopher Nolan, "The Dark Knight"
Ron Howard, "Frost/Nixon"

Lowdown: Don't be surprised if Woody Allen sneaks in for his work in "Vicky Cristina Barcelona," but who gets overlooked in his place remains a question mark. 

Best Actor
Sean Penn, "Milk"
Mickey Rourke, "The Wrestler"
Frank Langella, "Frost/Nixon"
Clint Eastwood, "Gran Torino"
Brad Pitt, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"

Lowdown: Richard Jenkins could bump Pitt for "Buttons," but Pitt is probably overdue for his first nomination (whoops, I mean second nomination) and should be rewarded this time around.

Best Actress
Meryl Streep, "Doubt"
Kate Winslet, "Revolutionary Road"
Kristin Scott Thomas, "I've Loved You So Long"
Angelina Jolie, "Changling"
Sally Hawkins, "Happy-Go-Lucky"

Lowdown: When I submitted my Gurus picks i went with Cate Blanchett in the final slot, but I think Hawkins may actually sneak in instead.  I'm on the island not believing that "Frozen River's" Melissa Leo has a shot.

Best Supporting Actor
Heath Ledger, "The Dark Knight"
Philip Seymour Hoffman, "Doubt"
Robert Downey, Jr., "Tropic Thunder"
Josh Brolin, "Milk"
Dev Patel, "Slumdog Millionaire"

Lowdown: Patel happily gets in on the "Slumdog" bandwagon.

Best Supporting Actress
Kate Winslet, "The Reader"
Penelope Cruz, "Vicky Cristina Barcelona"
Marisa Tomei, "The Wrestler"
Viola Davis, "Doubt"
Taraji P. Henson, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"

Lowdown: The final showdown between Winslet and Cruz begins.  At least the Weinsteins will be able to claim one of their movies won an Oscar of some kind this year.

Best Original Screenplay
"WALL-E"
"Vicky Cristina Barcelona"
"The Wrestler"
"Milk"
"The Visitor"

Lowdown: I have the well-respected  "The Visitor" getting some nomination love here, but "Happy-Go-Lucky" and "Rachel Getting Married" are possible for the final slot as well.

Best Adapted Screenplay
"Slumdog Millionaire"
"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"
"Frost/Nixon"
"Doubt"
"The Dark Knight"

Lowdown: "Revolutionary Road" has a very slim chance of jumping over "Doubt" for the final nod.

Best Visual Effects
"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"
"Iron Man"
""The Dark Knight"

Lowdown: It seems ludicrous that the CG-less "Knight" would make the field, but many voters of this branch are old school practical effects guys.  "Knight" is exactly the sort of picture they'd like to reward.

Agree? Disagree?  State your case pundits!

Look for part 2 of my stone cold nomination picks early next week.