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Oscar Futures: ‘Milk’ Still Going Strong — But Is ‘Doubt’ in Doubt?

Every week between now and February 2, when the nominations are announced, movies and stars will help themselves — or, sometimes, hurt themselves — in the Oscar race. 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: Milk. Embargo-busting raves from Variety and the Hollywood Reporter clear up any doubts over its quality. And some think the passage of California's Prop. 8 this week enhances the movie's political appeal. DOWN: Australia. It opens in three weeks and it's still not done — probably not a good sign for a three-hour, $130 million epic.
CURRENT PREDIX: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Milk, Revolutionary Road, Slumdog Millionaire, Wall-E
Best Director UP: David Fincher, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Nobody's seen his movie yet and it's still a perceived front runner for Best Picture, mostly because nobody thinks he'll screw this one up. DOWN: John Patrick Shanley, Doubt. Those who've seen it are raving... about its performances (most of them, anyway). But is Doubt more than just an actors' showcase? The jury's still out.
CURRENT PREDIX: Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire; David Fincher, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button; Sam Mendes, Revolutionary Road; Christopher Nolan, The Dark Knight; Gus Van Sant, Milk
Best Actor UP: Richard Jenkins, The Visitor. The Oscar pundits at Gold Derby suddenly have him tied with surefire nominees Sean Penn and Mickey Rourke. DOWN: Dustin Hoffman, Last Chance Harvey. His is a low-key movie from a smaller company, and its trailer came and went last week without much fanfare.
CURRENT PREDIX: Leonardo DiCaprio, Revolutionary Road; Frank Langella, Frost/Nixon; Sean Penn, Milk; Brad Pitt, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button; Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler
Best Actress UP: Kate Winslet, Revolutionary Road. Sure, her role in The Reader could muddy the waters, but this is the category in which she'll campaign — she certainly didn't take her clothes off in the new Vanity Fair to win a supporting Oscar. DOWN: Meryl Streep, Doubt. Uh oh! Variety's Todd McCarthy calls her "questionable" performance the film's only "iffy element."
CURRENT PREDIX: Anne Hathaway, Rachel Getting Married; Angelina Jolie, Changeling; Kristen Scott Thomas, I've Loved You So Long; Meryl Streep, Doubt; Kate Winslet, Revolutionary Road
Best Supporting Actor UP: Michael Shannon, Revolutionary Road. In a film with no shortage of star power, the Times credits him with "some of the movie's most thrilling fireworks." DOWN: Robert Downey Jr., Tropic Thunder. Yes, he's great, and Paramount is campaigning. But come on, this nomination will never happen in a billion years, right?
CURRENT PREDIX: James Franco, Milk; Philip Seymour Hoffman, Doubt; Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight; Dev Patel, Slumdog Millionaire; Michael Shannon, Revolutionary Road
Best Supporting Actress UP: Viola Davis, Doubt. In a cast loaded with Academy favorites, she's allegedly responsible for the film's most powerful scene. DOWN: Amy Adams, Doubt. Will she be overshadowed in this category by her co-star? Her role's certainly not as flashy!
CURRENT PREDIX: Penélope Cruz, Vicky Cristina Barcelona; Viola Davis, Doubt; Rosemarie DeWitt, Rachel Getting Married; Taraji P. Henson, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button; Marisa Tomei, The Wrestler; Kate Winslet, The Reader
Photo: Courtesy of AMPAS