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Oscar Futures: The Fighter Punches Back

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 Fighter. Following its surprise premiere at AFI Fest this week, pundits are calling it a crowd-pleasing contender with a trio of nominatable performances. DOWN: The Social Network. Stu Vanairsdale wonders — with King's Speech holding strong, and 127 Hours coming up fast — has it lost momentum?
CURRENT PREDIX: 127 Hours, Another Year, Black Swan, Inception, The Kids Are All Right, The King's Speech, The Social Network, Toy Story 3, True Grit, Winter's Bone.
Best Director UP: Tom Hooper, The King's Speech. Charmingly, he dislikes his movie's poster just as much as everybody else. DOWN: David O. Russell, The Fighter. Good reviews for the movie and most of the cast don't seem to be helping him all that much: not one single vote from a Guru o' Gold today.
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: Colin Firth, The King's Speech. Out of Gold Derby's 22 experts, 21 are picking him to win. DOWN: Mark Wahlberg, The Fighter. His buzz isn't much better than Russell's: "Best Actor is, to be perfectly honest, going to be difficult for Wahlberg," raves Jeff Sneider in his review.
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. More great reviews out of the AFI Fest, Sasha Stone calls hers the "Performance of the Year," and Gold Derby's pundits have her as the favorite.DOWN: Rachel McAdams, Morning Glory. Critics love her! Too bad about her movie.
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. He steals the movie, claims pretty much everybody who saw it on Tuesday. DOWN: Ed Harris, The Way Back. He's reportedly great — but will his movie get enough of a push?
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: Amy Adams, The Fighter. Hey, maybe she's in this after all. Says Gregory Ellwood: "In a film full of colorful characters, it's Adams' grounded and realistic Charlene that keeps the film from going dramatically off the rails." DOWN: Helena Bonham Carter, The King's Speech. Remember when she seemed like a front-runner? Her buzz has cooled off and the category's getting more competitive.
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: Paramount