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oscar race 2011

Oscar Futures: The Social Network Strong Out of the Gate

Every week between now and January 25 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: The Social Network. Boom! The early reviews are ecstatic and instantly we have a "Best Picture front-runner." DOWN: The King's Speech. Last week: strong reviews and early favorite status. This week: a smackdown from Richard Corliss.
CURRENT PREDIX: 127 Hours, Another Year, The Fighter, Inception, The Kids Are All Right, The King's Speech, The Social Network, Toy Story 3, True Grit, The Way Back.
Best Director UP: Danny Boyle, 127 Hours. Reviews for the movie at Toronto are ecstatic: "127 Hours elevated far above typical rescue story by Boyle's eye for detail and strategically deployed flash," tweets the L.A. Times' Steven Zeitchik. DOWN: Sofia Coppola, Somewhere. Did her movie win the Gold Lion at Venice just because her buddy Quentin Tarantino was the jury president? Who knows, but the accusation doesn't help her.
CURRENT PREDIX: Danny Boyle, 127 Hours; David Fincher, The Social Network; Tom Hooper, The King's Speech; Mike Leigh, Another Year; Christopher Nolan, Inception.
Best Actor UP: Javier Bardem, Biutiful. After just two days at TIFF, Movieline's S.T. Vanairsdale raved, "if festivalgoers see anything better this week in Toronto [than Bardem's or Natalie Porman's Black Swan performance], then all of us are in for one hell of a bounty in the months ahead." DOWN: Robert Duvall, Get Low. This is becoming a pretty crowded race — can he maintain his early momentum?
CURRENT PREDIX: Javier Bardem, Biutiful; Robert Duvall, Get Low; Colin Firth, The King's Speech; James Franco, 127 Hours; Mark Wahlberg, The Fighter.
Best Actress UP: Nicole Kidman, Rabbit Hole. Her performance is allegedly her best in years, and Lionsgate just bought the movie, with plans to release it by year's end. DOWN: Robin Wright, The Conspirator. Reviews for her performance were solid-ish, too, but Lionsgate also bought Conspirator and is mulling a release in the Oscar-proof month of March.
CURRENT PREDIX: Annette Bening, The Kids Are All Right; Anne Hathaway, Love and Other Drugs; Nicole Kidman, Rabbit Hole; Lesley Manville, Another Year; Natalie Portman, Black Swan..
Best Supporting Actor UP: Justin Timberlake, The Social Network. Geoffrey Rush (The King's Speech) and Christian Bale (The Fighter) both have their own buzz this week. But just the mere possibility — raised here, here, and here — of Timberlake (Justin Timberlake!) being nominated for an Oscar is worthy of mention here. DOWN: Sam Rockwell, Conviction. He's allegedly great. The movie's allegedly not.
CURRENT PREDIX: Christian Bale, The Fighter; Andrew Garfield, The Social Network; Sam Rockwell, Conviction; Mark Ruffalo, The Kids Are All Right; Geoffrey Rush, The King's Speech.
Best Supporting Actress UP: Melissa Leo, The Fighter. Lookin' good in the trailer. DOWN: Amy Adams, The Fighter. Props for trying, but we're not sure we buy her as a tough-talking bartender.
CURRENT PREDIX: Helena Bonham-Carter, The King's Speech; Melissa Leo, The Fighter; Miranda Richardson, Made in Dagenham; Sissy Spacek, Get Low; Hailee Steinfeld, True Grit.
Photo: Merrick Morton/Columbia TriStar Marketing Group, Inc.