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Oscar Futures: ‘No Country’ Lands the First Big Punch

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: No Country for Old Men. The Coen brothers' savage Western takes the National Board of Review, the first real milestone of awards season. DOWN: American Gangster. Snubbed by the NBR in favor of The Bourne Ultimatum and … The Bucket List?
CURRENT PREDIX: American Gangster, Atonement, Juno, Michael Clayton, No Country for Old Men
Best Director UP: Julian Schnabel, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. Could the art-world enfant terrible be a real director? Critics seem to think so. DOWN: Jason Reitman, Juno. Every splashy feature about stripper turned screenwriter Diablo Cody marks Juno as her achievement, not his.
CURRENT PREDIX: 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: Emile Hirsch, Into the Wild. A breakthrough award from the National Board of Review could help his long-shot chances. DOWN: George Clooney, Michael Clayton. Wait, when could the guy who won Best Actor from the NBR be down for the week? When it's widely assumed the celeb-loving board members gave him the award just so a big star would come to their dinner.
CURRENT PREDIX: Mathieu Amalric, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly; Daniel Day-Lewis, There Will Be Blood; Johnny Depp, Sweeney Todd; James McAvoy, Atonement; George Clooney, Michael Clayton; Denzel Washington, American Gangster
Best Actress UP: Julie Christie, Away From Her. NBR win cements her front-runner status. DOWN: Keira Knightley, Atonement. Not down much, but down a little thanks to A.O. Scott's pan of the movie and of her performance in the Times.
CURRENT PREDIX: Amy Adams, Enchanted; Julie Christie, Away From Her; Marion Cotillard, La Vie En Rose; Keira Knightley, Atonement; Ellen Page, Juno
Best Supporting Actor UP: Max Von Sydow, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. Reviews and features tout the actor, whose role is apparently barely more than a cameo — but stunning. DOWN: Ethan Hawke, before the Devil Knows You're Dead. The movie's falling off the radar, and it now seems likely only living legend Lumet will get a nod.
CURRENT PREDIX: Javier Bardem, No Country for Old Men; Paul Dano, There Will Be Blood; Ethan Hawke, Before the Devil Knows You're Dead; Philip Seymour Hoffman, Charlie Wilson's War; Hal Holbrook, Into the Wild; Tom Wilkinson, Michael Clayton
Best Supporting Actress UP: Kelly Macdonald, No Country for Old Men. Finally, media and bloggers start to notice the lone female voice in this male-dominated movie. DOWN: Vanessa Redgrave, Atonement. Reviewers can't talk about the strengths of her performance without spoiling the movie, so they focus on her co-stars Saoirse Ronan and Romola Garai instead.
CURRENT PREDIX: Cate Blanchett, I'm Not There; Romola Garai, Atonement; Vanessa Redgrave, Atonement; Saoirse Ronan, Atonement; Amy Ryan, Gone Baby Gone; Tilda Swinton, Michael Clayton