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Oscar Futures: Congratulations in Advance, Natalie Portman!

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: Darren Aronofsky, Black Swan. As buzz on Swan (and especially Natalie Portman) grows, Aronofsky tells David Poland his next movie won't be the stinker you're expecting: "I'm being hired [for Wolverine 2] to do what I always do." Good news. DOWN: Tom Hooper, The King's Speech. Even if Speech wins Best Picture, as many think it will, most are still predicting Fincher will win here. Hooper needs to take it up a notch.
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: Mark Wahlberg, The Fighter. A huge wet kiss from 60 Minutes last night. DOWN: Jesse Eisenberg, The Social Network. People are still talking about the movie and its supporting performances, but excitement over Eisenberg seems to have cooled way down.
CURRENT PREDIX: Javier Bardem, Biutiful; Jeff Bridges, True Grit; Robert Duvall, Get Low; Colin Firth, The King's Speech; James Franco, 127 Hours.
Best Actress UP: Natalie Portman, Black Swan. Following Swan's AFI Fest premiere, she's officially the front-runner. Tom O'Neil and Steve Pond try to gin up the competition between her and Annette Bening, but both sound like they think Portman's got it.DOWN: Lesley Manville, Another Year. Jeff Wells, who doesn't think she has a chance in lead, mounts a campaign to get her to switch to supporting.
CURRENT PREDIX: Annette Bening, The Kids Are All Right; Nicole Kidman, Rabbit Hole; Jennifer Lawrence, Winter's Bone; Lesley Manville, Another Year; Natalie Portman, Black Swan.
Best Supporting Actor UP: Christian Bale, The Fighter. The cover of the new Esquire says this race is all over. DOWN: Michael Douglas, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps. Now here's a campaign we haven't heard much about lately. "Was it all a joke?" wonders Stu Vanairsdale.
CURRENT PREDIX: Christian Bale, The Fighter; Armie Hammer, The Social Network; Ed Harris, The Way Back; Sam Rockwell, Conviction; Geoffrey Rush, The King's Speech.
Best Supporting Actress UP: Helena Bonham Carter, The King's Speech. The Gurus o' Gold have her pretty far in the lead. Also, is she due for a "career-tribute" Oscar? DOWN: Miranda Richardson, Made in Dagenham. The movie's unimpressive first weekend might not bode well.
CURRENT PREDIX: Helena Bonham Carter, The King's Speech; Melissa Leo, The Fighter; Miranda Richardson, Made in Dagenham; Hailee Steinfeld, True Grit; Jacki Weaver, Animal Kingdom.
Photo: Fox Searchlight