Golden Globes back to inaugurating Oscars season!

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That was the year that was: Jennifer Hudson poses with the award she won for best supporting actress for her work in "Dreamgirls" at the Golden Globe Awards back in January 2007. (AP file)

Hobbled by last year's writers strike -- but safe from this year's possible actors walkout (not so, the Oscars) -- the Golden Globes return to their rightful place this year as the big, fun party of awards season. And tomorrow's nominations are once again the official start to the Oscars race.

Well, ceremonial, perhaps. A few groups already have announced nominees and best-picture selections for the year -- LA, NY, etc. etc.) -- but the Globes announce their annual nominees for TV and movies awards at dawn Thursday morning (7 a.m. our time).

We'll be posting all the details and lists here, of course.

From a Globes press release: "So who is in line for Golden Globe glory this year? Tom O'Neill, who has been handicapping such events for years as the pundit behind the Los Angeles Times' prize-tracking site, sees the Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett movie, 'The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,' as the front-runner. He also had good things to say about the chances of the Batman movie 'The Dark Knight,' which featured Heath Ledger as the Joker in his last role."

I wouldn't count out the Sean Penn vehicle "Milk," which hits all the right topical hot buttons this year with the HFPA's left-leaning voting bloc (all 81 of them).

Hollywood's starlets are already picking out their gowns!

The Globes ceremony is Jan. 11. Last year's event was converted into a dull press conference because of striking writers.

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