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Oscar Futures: Congratulations in Advance, Slumdog Millionaire!

Amy Arbus's Phoebe Légère Fur Bikini (1987).

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. With ballots already in voters' hands, Slumdog has, seemingly, not just the most proponents (and critics' awards) but also the fewest haters of any serious contender. Has this race already been decided? Pretty much, says Nikki Finke. DOWN: Revolutionary Road. Reviews weren't as strong as expected, and now everybody's piling on: Did Paramount wait too long to release it? wonders Anne Thompson; why does Hollywood hate the suburbs so much? asks The Wall Street Journal.
CURRENT PREDIX: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Frost/Nixon, Milk, Slumdog Millionaire, Wall-E
Best Director UP: Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire. Of the twentysomething pre-Oscar awards for Best Director, he's won sixteen. His nearest competition? Gus Van Sant, who got two. DOWN: David Fincher, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Critics agree: His movie is spectacularly well made but almost impossible to love. Also, he might have a better chance if voters didn't think he was "such a jerk."
CURRENT PREDIX: Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire; David Fincher, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button; Ron Howard, Frost/Nixon; Christopher Nolan, The Dark Knight; Gus Van Sant, Milk
Best Actor UP: Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler. Besides whoever's leaking Rourke's idiotic text messages, does anybody not want to see him win this? DOWN: Frank Langella, Frost/Nixon. It's looking more likely that Clint Eastwood will take Leonardo DiCaprio's slot in this category — will he and Langella split older voters?
CURRENT PREDIX: Clint Eastwood Gran Torino; Frank Langella, Frost/Nixon; Sean Penn, Milk; Brad Pitt, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button; Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler
Best Actress UP: Cate Blanchett, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. The fact that her performance shines through special effects (and the movie's fourteen-hour running time) did not go unnoticed by critics — could she sneak in there? Her Vanity Fair cover probably doesn't hurt. DOWN: Kate Winslet, Revolutionary Road. Her movie doesn't seem to be finding much support. Will a former front-runner have to fight for a nomination?
CURRENT PREDIX: Anne Hathaway, Rachel Getting Married; Melissa Leo, Frozen River; Kristin Scott Thomas, I've Loved You So Long; Meryl Streep, Doubt; Kate Winslet, Revolutionary Road
Best Supporting Actor UP: Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight. He's won pretty much every critics' prize, and his Oscar victory is probably this year's surest bet. DOWN: Dev Patel, Slumdog Millionaire. Enthusiasm for the film still doesn't seem to be translating into very much Oscar buzz for its star.
CURRENT PREDIX: Josh Brolin, Milk; James Franco, Milk; Philip Seymour Hoffman, Doubt; Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight; Michael Shannon, Revolutionary Road
Best Supporting Actress UP: Marisa Tomei, The Wrestler. She's taken home more pre-Oscar prizes than presumed front-runner Penélope Cruz — maybe this is a race after all? DOWN: Taraji P. Henson, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. She's great, sure, but it turns out all of her big scenes are near the beginning of a three-hour movie.
CURRENT PREDIX: Penélope Cruz, Vicky Cristina Barcelona; Viola Davis, Doubt; Rosemarie DeWitt, Rachel Getting Married; Marisa Tomei, The Wrestler; Kate Winslet, The Reader
Photo: Courtesy of AMPAS