Oscar Futures: ‘American Gangster’ Ready to Play Like Gangbusters

Photo: Courtesy of AMPAS

Every week between now and January 22, Vulture's Oscar Futures will listen to insider gossip, comb the Oscar blogs, and out-and-out guess when necessary to track who's up, who's down, and who's currently leading the race for a coveted nomination.

Best Picture UP: American Gangster. The reviews weren't perfect, but combined with this movie's expected huge box office, they may be good enough. DOWN: There Will Be Blood. It's a masterpiece, say the critics. It's a difficult, limited-appeal art film, they don't have to say.
CURRENT PREDIX: American Gangster, Atonement, Juno, Michael Clayton, No Country for Old Men
Best Director UP: Marc Forster, The Kite Runner. Word from early screenings is pretty good, putting the never-nominated director back on the rise. DOWN: Robert Redford, Lions for Lambs. The movie's generally considered to be flatlining.
CURRENT PREDIX: Paul Thomas Anderson, There Will Be Blood; Ethan and Joel Coen, No Country for Old Men; Sidney Lumet, Before the Devil Knows You're Dead; Sean Penn, Into the Wild; Ridley Scott, American Gangster; Joe Wright, Atonement
Best Actor UP: Daniel Day-Lewis, There Will Be Blood. His position gets even stronger as he even wows in the film's new trailer. DOWN: George Clooney, Michael Clayton. Does his underplayed style compare poorly to Day-Lewis's flamboyant performance?
CURRENT PREDIX: Daniel Day-Lewis, There Will Be Blood; James McAvoy, Atonement; George Clooney, Michael Clayton; Tommy Lee Jones, In the Valley of Elah; Denzel Washington, American Gangster
Best Actress UP: Julie Christie, Away From Her. High ranking in the first Oscar prediction polls suggest support is there. DOWN: Charlize Theron, In the Valley of Elah. Miserable box office means this film will be lucky to get one nomination, and it won't be for her.
CURRENT PREDIX: Julie Christie, Away From Her; Marion Cotillard, La Vie En Rose; Jodie Foster, The Brave One; Angelina Jolie, A Mighty Heart; Keira Knightley, Atonement, Ellen Page, Juno
Best Supporting Actor UP: Paul Dano, There Will Be Blood. Early notices – and the film's trailer – suggest the young actor is a match for Day-Lewis. DOWN: Albert Finney, Before the Devil Knows You're Dead. His showy performance is nonetheless getting lost behind his co-stars, Ethan Hawke and Philip Seymour Hoffman.
CURRENT PREDIX: Javier Bardem, No Country for Old Men; Russell Crowe, American Gangster; Ethan Hawke, Before the Devil Knows You're Dead; Hal Holbrook, Into the Wild; Tom Wilkinson, Michael Clayton
Best Supporting Actress UP: Leslie Mann, Knocked Up. There are whispers that her standout performance in this summer's huge hit – and an Oscar-ready clip in her confrontation with Paul Rudd – might help her sneak in. DOWN: Julia Roberts, Charlie Wilson's War. Movie City news pundits label her the most likely star to be overlooked.
CURRENT PREDIX: Cate Blanchett, I'm Not There; Romola Garai, Atonement; Vanessa Redgrave, Atonement; Amy Ryan, Gone Baby Gone; Tilda Swinton, Michael Clayton