Oscar Futures: Your Awards Season With Marilyn

By

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 Director UP: Alexander Payne (The Descendants). In case Payne's auteur bona fides were ever in doubt, he just cut the budget of his next movie so he could shoot it in black-and-white. Take that, Michael Hazanavicius! DOWN: Martin Scorsese (Hugo). NYFF reviews of the work-in-progress children's movie complained that the first half is a bit stiff.
CURRENT PREDIX: Woody Allen (Midnight in Paris); David Fincher (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo); Michael Hazanavicius (The Artist); Alexander Payne (The Descendants); Steven Spielberg (War Horse)
Best Actor UP: Woody Harrelson (Rampart). Awards Daily's Sasha Stone — this season's biggest Michael Fassbender booster — is equally gaga for Harrelson's bad cop in Rampart: "One of the best of the year — it stayed with me long after the film ended." DOWN: Leonardo DiCaprio (J. Edgar). Leo's suddenly hot to make a biopic of Alan Turing, which makes his portrayal of another historic gay twentieth-century figure in J. Edgar just a little less urgent.
CURRENT PREDIX: George Clooney (The Descendants); Leonardo DiCaprio (J. Edgar); Jean Dujardin (The Artist); Michael Fassbender (Shame); Brad Pitt (Moneyball)
Best Actress UP: Michelle Williams (My Week With Marilyn). David Poland called Williams "your likely Best Actress Oscar winner." Whether or not that's true, passionate raves will help push her toward a nomination. DOWN: Meryl Streep (The Iron Lady). As Grantland's Mark Harris reminds us, Streep has "lost more Academy Awards than any actor in history," and he's awfully skeptical of her automatic front-runner status: "It's now a near-annual ritual for prognosticators to claim that it's her year." Well, when you put it that way!
CURRENT PREDIX: Glenn Close (Albert Nobbs); Viola Davis (The Help); Rooney Mara (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo); Meryl Streep (The Iron Lady); Michelle Williams (My Week With Marilyn)
Best Supporting Actor UP: Patton Oswalt (Young Adult). This category still desperately needs young blood, and Hitfix's Kris Tapley keeps hinting that Patton Oswalt will be in the mix. An Oscar season with Oswalt and Albert Brooks? We'll take it! DOWN: Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Ides of March). He's great as the intractable third lead of Ides, just as he's great as the intractable third lead of Moneyball. Which do you go for? Ides has a lot of tasty monologues, but Moneyball will almost surely split his chances.
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: Janet McTeer (Albert Nobbs). McTeer is said to be the film's strongest supporting performance, and her masculine verve intrigues in the new trailer. DOWN: Mia Wasikowska (Albert Nobbs). Wasikowska has less to do in the movie, but she gets to share scenes with a shirtless Aaron Johnson, so don't cry for her, okay?
CURRENT PREDIX: Sandra Bullock (Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close); Jessica Chastain (The Help); Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids); Vanessa Redgrave (Coriolanus); Octavia Spencer (The Help)