Oscar Futures: Can Kate Beat Meryl?

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"Keep 'em closed ... the clown doesn't like it when you open your eyes." Photo: Courtesy of AMPAS

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: Slumdog Millionaire. Rave reviews, great (per-screen) box office, and passionate supporters make this once-underdog seem like the only sure-bet nominee so far. DOWN: Australia. Well, it's finally finished, and reviews are in: It's just okay.
CURRENT PREDIX: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Milk, Revolutionary Road, Slumdog Millionaire, Wall-E
Best Director UP: Jonathan Demme, Rachel Getting Married. Roger Ebert seems to think he's "a lock." Plus, voters got screeners of his movie this week. DOWN: Sam Mendes, Revolutionary Road. Is Road too much like American Beauty? Is he just repeating himself? The Hollywood Reporter thinks so.
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: Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler. Following his apology for using a homophobic slur in an interview last Monday, he's impressively managed to avoid saying anything egregiously stupid for an entire week. DOWN: Hugh Jackman, Australia. Will anyone be able to look past his sexiness? Variety's Todd McCarthy sure can't: "Women and not a few men will marvel at a stripped-down Jackman's sculpted torso as he rinses himself off in the campfire light."
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. With Meryl Streep getting mixed reviews for Doubt, is this Winslet's award to lose? Apparently she's "a revelation." DOWN: Angelina Jolie, The Changeling. Promoting her movie in the U.K. this week, she talked more about breast-feeding, her parents, and her imminent plans to quit acting. Her celebrity cost her a nomination last year — will it happen again?
CURRENT PREDIX: Anne Hathaway, Rachel Getting Married; Angelina Jolie, Changeling; Kristin Scott Thomas, I've Loved You So Long; Meryl Streep, Doubt; Kate Winslet, Revolutionary Road
Best Supporting Actor UP: Michael Shannon, Revolutionary Road. "When Shannon is onscreen," says Variety, "it's impossible to watch anyone else"… DOWN: Michael Shannon, Revolutionary Road. …Too bad he will definitely lose to Heath Ledger, who Roger Ebert's top-secret Oscar source claims will win, "period. For the other contenders, the nomination itself will be their reward."
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. Is she Doubt's best hope for an acting statue? After screenings last weekend, that's what some are saying. DOWN: Kathy Bates, Revolutionary Road. Did you know she was in this? Early reviews barely mention her.
CURRENT PREDIX: Penélope Cruz, Vicky Cristina Barcelona; Viola Davis, Doubt; Rosemarie DeWitt, Rachel Getting Married; Taraji P. Henson, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button; Kate Winslet, The Reader