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oscar futures

Oscar Futures: Playing Horse and Moneyball

Every week between now and January 24, 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: Moneyball. The movie continues to hang on nicely after having all of September virtually to itself in terms of press coverage, critical acclaim, and box office. At this point, it's got the beachhead it needed. DOWN: The Ides of March. Harvey Weinstein raved about it, but the movie isn't considered to be front-runner competition. Even George Clooney seemed skeptical of Harv's hosannas. "He's got a plan, doesn't he?" Clooney fretted to us. "He's trying to set me up somehow."
CURRENT PREDIX: The Artist; The Descendants; Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close; The Help; J. Edgar; Midnight in Paris; Moneyball; Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy; War Horse
Best Director UP: Steven Spielberg (War Horse). The full trailer makes the movie look like a can't-miss cross between E.T. and Saving Private Ryan, as unlikely as that sounds. DOWN: Angelina Jolie (In the Land of Blood and Honey). It's still super under the radar, but Jolie's Bosnian war drama has screened, though it hasn't seemed to move any Oscar prognostication needles yet.
CURRENT PREDIX: Woody Allen (Midnight in Paris); Stephen Daldry (Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close); David Fincher (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo); Michael Hazanavicious (The Artist); Steven Spielberg (War Horse)
Best Actor UP: Michael Fassbender (Shame). How hot has this rising star been at the New York Film Festival? "Women in lobby stomping feet, screaming after mtg Michael Fassbender just now," tweeted the Film Society, adding, "2 guys escorted out also." DOWN: Leonardo DiCaprio (J. Edgar). Is the new poster actually trying to dampen our interest?
CURRENT PREDIX: George Clooney (The Descendants); Leonardo DiCaprio (J. Edgar); Jean Dujardin (The Artist); Michael Fassbender (Shame); Brad Pitt (Moneyball)
Best Actress UP: Charlize Theron (Young Adult). In this week's trailer battle, Theron's intriguing bad girl came out ahead. DOWN: Michelle Williams (My Week With Marilyn). Meanwhile, Michelle's Marilyn didn't benefit from a two-minute teaser. We'll know more when the movie screens this weekend.
CURRENT PREDIX: Glenn Close (Albert Nobbs); Viola Davis (The Help); Meryl Streep (The Iron Lady); Charlize Theron (Young Adult); Rooney Mara (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo)
Best Supporting Actor UP: Corey Stoll (Midnight in Paris). This category is crying out for someone under 40, so why not the terrific Stoll, who's been working the awards circuit all week to promote his turn as Ernest Hemingway? DOWN: Nick Nolte (Warrior). If young bucks like Stoll or J. Edgar's Armie Hammer make a late charge for Oscar, Warrior's weak box office may make Nolte the most expendable.
CURRENT PREDIX: Kenneth Branagh (My Week With Marilyn); Albert Brooks (Drive); Nick Nolte (Warrior); Christopher Plummer (Beginners); Max von Sydow (Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close)
Best Supporting Actress UP: Octavia Spencer (The Help). Proving she's no one-hit wonder, Spencer just booked a role in the directorial debut of Oscar winner Diablo Cody. DOWN: Emily Watson (War Horse). Some have speculated that Watson will deliver strong stuff in this movie, but in the new trailer, she's eclipsed by running horses and crying little girls.
CURRENT PREDIX: Sandra Bullock (Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close); Jessica Chastain (The Help); Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids); Vanessa Redgrave (Coriolanus); Octavia Spencer (The Help)