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Oscar Futures: The Fighter Enters the Ring

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 Director UP: Danny Boyle, 127 Hours. A big rave from Awards Daily's Sacha Stone: "[Boyle's] a genius visually, intellectually, emotionally ... He is assured in what he does and in command of every frame." DOWN: Clint Eastwood, Hereafter. Neither critics nor math were on his side this week.
CURRENT PREDIX: Darren Aronofsky, Black Swan; Danny Boyle, 127 Hours; David Fincher, The Social Network; Tom Hooper, The King's Speech; Christopher Nolan, Inception.
Best Actor UP: Michael Douglas, Solitary Man. Like everyone assumed they would, Fox will reportedly push Douglas's Wall Street 2 performance for a supporting Oscar, making way for this one in lead. Also, Tom O'Neil asks, will his cancer help? DOWN: Mark Wahlberg, The Fighter. Says one of Steve Pond's spies, who saw it at ShowEest: "[He's] hampered by a script that simply doesn't give [him] enough to work with."
CURRENT PREDIX: Jeff Bridges, True Grit; Jesse Eisenberg, The Social Network; Colin Firth, The King's Speech; James Franco, 127 Hours; Mark Wahlberg, The Fighter.
Best Actress UP: Anne Hathaway, Love and Other Drugs. Jeffrey Wells's earlier suspicions are confirmed by Jeffrey Wells: "You can read every emotional tick and tremor on her face." He also praises the film's "generous nudity."DOWN: Nicole Kidman, Rabbit Hole. Still not much buzz here. We're giving her spot to Jennifer Lawrence, whose performance the Gotham Awards remembered this week.
CURRENT PREDIX: Annette Bening, The Kids Are All Right; Anne Hathaway, Love and Other Drugs; Nicole Kidman, Rabbit Hole; Jennifer Lawrence, Winter's Bone; Lesley Manville, Another Year; Natalie Portman, Black Swan.
Best Supporting Actor UP: Paul Rudd, How Do You Know. "This is a guaranteed Best Supporting Actor nomination," declares a pseudonymous Hollywood Elsewhere reader who saw an early screening. DOWN: Sam Rockwell, Conviction. His nomination is hanging from threads, and here comes Gordon Gekko.
CURRENT PREDIX: Christian Bale, The Fighter; Andrew Garfield, The Social Network; Armie Hammer, The Social Network; Ed Harris, The Way Back; Sam Rockwell, Conviction; Geoffrey Rush, The King's Speech.
Best Supporting Actress UP: Melissa Leo, The Fighter. She's a "standout" in the film who will "definitely figure into" the race, says a guy Steve Pond knows. DOWN: Everybody in For Colored Girls. FCG might have saved this weak category, but the early reviews aren't encouraging: "There's some great acting being done here, but the cameras aren't where they need to be to capture it, and the editing isn't properly calibrated to shape what the performers are dishing out."
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: Paramount