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Oscar Futures: Is The Fighter a Best Picture Spoiler?

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: David O. Russell, The Fighter. With Fighter suddenly a plausible Best Picture contender, his nomination feels less and less like a long shot. DOWN: Danny Boyle, 127 Hours. Hours is no Slumdog at the box office — will enough people see it?
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: Ryan Gosling, Blue Valentine. This week he covered our magazine and saw Valentine lose its NC-17 rating. Not bad. DOWN: Mark Wahlberg, The Fighter. Echoing other critics, A.O. Scott says Wahlberg "[underplays] so gracefully and with so little vanity that you almost forget that the movie is supposed to be about Micky." So probably not the kind of performance that wins awards, then.
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. She gets a thumbs-up from ballerinas, and Swan scores 2010's best limited debut at the box office.DOWN: Annette Bening, The Kids Are All Right. Tom O'Neil, Pete Hammond, and Tim Apello see her lead dwindling.
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: Armie Hammer, The Social Network. His just-announced role as Hoover's boyfriend in Clint Eastwood's J. Edgar shows how far his stock has risen this awards season. DOWN: Christian Bale, The Fighter. Reviews for his performance are mostly great, but his campaigning style is being described as Mo'Nique-esque this week. It worked for Mo'Nique, but could still rub some the wrong way.
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. Melissa Leo's role may be flashier, but Adams hasn't gone unnoticed this week: "The best and hardest punch in a movie full of flying fists is thrown by her," says A.O. Scott. DOWN: Helena Bonham Carter, The King's Speech. Remember when she was the front-runner? She needs to turn it up a notch.
CURRENT PREDIX: Amy Adams, The Fighter; 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