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Oscar Futures: Can $93 Million Buy True Grit an Oscar?

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: True Grit. Does its big box office improve Grit's odds? It can't hurt, we guess. DOWN: Winter's Bone. The small-budgeted, Bigelow-approved Bone's snub by the Producer's Guild was no huge surprise, but most pundits have replaced it with The Town in their top tens anyway.
CURRENT PREDIX: 127 Hours, Black Swan, The Fighter, Inception, The Kids Are All Right, The King's Speech, The Social Network, The Town, Toy Story 3, True Grit, Winter's Bone.
Best Director UP: Joel and Ethan Coen, True Grit. This week, Grit became the highest-grossing Coens movie ever. Suck it, No Country! DOWN: David O. Russell, The Fighter. This is a tricky category to call, but with the Coens coming up fast, Russell seems the most vulnerable right now.
CURRENT PREDIX: Darren Aronofsky, Black Swan; Joel and Ethan Coen, True Grit; David Fincher, The Social Network; Tom Hooper, The King's Speech; Christopher Nolan, Inception; David O. Russell, The Fighter.
Best Actor UP: Javier Bardem, Biutiful. Julia Roberts makes the case, delightfully: If Javier doesn't get a nod, "then we're fucked." DOWN: Edgar Ramirez, Carlos. He was a long shot anyway, but this week the Academy ruled Carlos ineligible in all categories because it aired on TV before it played theaters.
CURRENT PREDIX: Ryan Gosling, Blue Valentine; Robert Duvall, Get Low; Jesse Eisenberg, The Social Network; Colin Firth, The King's Speech; James Franco, 127 Hours.
Best Actress UP: Nicole Kidman, Rabbit Hole. Could she win in an upset? Tom O'Neil and Pete Hammond think she maybe could.DOWN: Natalie Portman, Black Swan. Oscar fact: No actress in history has won an Academy Award after looking at Ashton Kutcher's penis through 3-D glasses. (Still, look for Natalie to make history next month.)
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: Pete Postlethwaite, The Town. "Might the academy nominate Pete Postlethwaite posthumously for Oscar this year?" No way, but it's a nice thought, anyway. DOWN: Justin Timberlake, The Social Network. So he's not going to try for a late-season comeback by surprising us with a new album after all. Too bad — that actually might've worked!
CURRENT PREDIX: Christian Bale, The Fighter; Andrew Garfield, The Social Network; Jeremy Renner, The Town; Sam Rockwell, Conviction; Geoffrey Rush, The King's Speech.
Best Supporting Actress UP: Jacki Weaver, Animal Kingdom. Her fan-club president Stu Vanairsdale reports, "Jacki earned a roundabout endorsement from Quentin Tarantino and a nice, public bump from the sweeping Village Voice critics poll, which elected her wellllll above her likely Oscar competition." DOWN: Hailee Steinfeld, True Grit. With Grit fever going around, will her votes get split between supporting and lead?
CURRENT PREDIX: Helena Bonham Carter, The King's Speech; Mila Kunis, Black Swan; Melissa Leo, The Fighter; Hailee Steinfeld, True Grit; Jacki Weaver, Animal Kingdom.
Photo: Paramount