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Oscar Futures: Here Comes the Consensus

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 for insider gossip, comb the 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: Avatar. Roger Ebert wasn't happy about it, but the movie's win at the Golden Globes pushed the pundits off the fence: Avatar's the heavy favorite to win. DOWN: Up in the Air. If anything upsets Avatar, it'll probably be The Hurt Locker, not this former front-runner, say pundits and guys who know math.
CURRENT PREDIX: Avatar, An Education, The Hurt Locker, Inglourious Basterds, Invictus, Nine, Precious, A Serious Man, Up, Up in the Air.
Best Director UP: Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker. After considering it for a few days, we could've done without one of James Cameron's two speeches at the Globes. Perhaps the Academy will feel the same. DOWN: Jason Reitman, Up in the Air. With support for Air collapsing, Reitman probably didn't need a controversy over whether he's giving his co-writer enough credit this week.
CURRENT PREDIX: Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker; James Cameron, Avatar; Lee Daniels, Precious; Jason Reitman, Up in the Air; Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds.
Best Actor UP: Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart. With his odds-on-favorite status confirmed by his Globes win, he's looking tough to beat. DOWN: Morgan Freeman, Invictus. If Clooney can't chip away at Bridges's front-runner status by saving Haiti, then what the hell chance does Freeman have?
CURRENT PREDIX: Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart; George Clooney, Up in the Air; Colin Firth, A Single Man; Morgan Freeman, Invictus; Jeremy Renner, The Hurt Locker.
Best Actress UP: Sandra Bullock, The Blind Side. The world has had a few days to live with her wins at last weekend's Critics Choice and Golden Globe awards. Come on — it wasn't that bad, was it? If she wins a this weekend's SAG Awards, she's the favorite.DOWN: Carey Mulligan, An Education. "So Whatever Happened to Awards Darling Carey Mulligan?" asks Movieline.
CURRENT PREDIX: Sandra Bullock, The Blind Side; Helen Mirren, The Last Station; Carey Mulligan, An Education; Gabourey Sidibe, Precious; Meryl "T-Bone" Streep, Julie & Julia.
Best Supporting Actor UP: Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds. At this point, he'd practically have to be exposed as a Nazi in real life to lose this award. DOWN: Christopher Plummer, The Last Station. If he can't get a BAFTA nod for a role in a movie loaded with British people, how worried should we be about his Oscar nomination?
CURRENT PREDIX: Woody Harrelson, The Messenger; Christian McKay, Me and Orson Welles; Christopher Plummer, The Last Station; Stanley Tucci, The Lovely Bones; Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds.
Best Supporting Actress UP: Mo'Nique, Precious. Her emotional acceptance speech at the Globes seems to have finally quieted the haters. Also, could anyone else have pulled off a look like this? DOWN: Judi Dench, Nine. Not to keep picking on poor Nine here, but if an honest-to-god Dame was shut out for a BAFTA nod in favor of two actresses from Nowhere Boy, then she probably doesn't have a snowball's chance on Pandora at an Oscar nomination.
CURRENT PREDIX: Penélope Cruz, Nine; Vera Farmiga, Up in the Air; Anna Kendrick, Up in the Air; Mo'nique, Precious; Julianne Moore, A Single Man.
Photo: Courtesy of Fox