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oscar futures

Oscar Futures: This Means War Horse

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: War Horse. Steven Spielberg's equine epic has started sneaking across the country, and a lot of the early reactions (though the trades and high-profile critics have yet to weigh in) are raves. DOWN: J. Edgar. It finally screened last night, and even the good reviews were simply polite. Unfortunately, it also got its fair share of high-profile pans.
CURRENT PREDIX: The Artist; The Descendants; Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close; The Help; Midnight in Paris; Moneyball; War Horse
Best Director UP: Steven Spielberg (War Horse). It always seemed like a done deal, and those early War Horse reviews solidify Spielberg's standing. DOWN: George Clooney (The Ides of March). Grantland's Mark Harris continues to damn the movie with faint praise: "[Oscar voters] will watch Ides. They’ll enjoy it. And then, in all likelihood, they’ll vote for something else."
CURRENT PREDIX: Woody Allen (Midnight in Paris); Stephen Daldry (Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close); Michael Hazanavicius (The Artist); Alexander Payne (The Descendants); Steven Spielberg (War Horse)
Best Actor UP: Leonardo DiCaprio (J. Edgar). Though he wasn't that impressed by the movie, Hitfix's Kris Tapley still rated DiCaprio highly and predicted "that elusive first Oscar win." DOWN: Jeremy Irvine (War Horse). Irvine is the film's human lead, but "many will consider him too earnest and simple," according to AICN, so no one in this category should fear a sudden dark horse (sorry about that).
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). Newsweek's new issue is a virtual mash note to Williams, and that heartbreaking pixie haircut story? Oh, Michelle! DOWN: Tilda Swinton (We Need to Talk About Kevin). Great trailer, but the pundits polled for Gurus of Gold all agree that Swinton is bringing up the rear in this category.
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). "Now a Best Supporting Actor contender ... definitely," pronounced Jeff Wells after checking out the film this week. DOWN: Armie Hammer (J. Edgar). Hammer might be hindered by the bad old-age makeup cited in so many of today's reviews.
CURRENT PREDIX: Kenneth Branagh (My Week With Marilyn); Albert Brooks (Drive); Patton Oswalt (Young Adult); Christopher Plummer (Beginners); Max von Sydow (Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close)
Best Supporting Actress UP: Carey Mulligan (Shame). Watch this space. Pundits are underrating Mulligan, who gives a brave, searing, full-frontal performance in Shame — she's even got a song! If people are checking out Fassbender, Mulligan will get noticed, too. DOWN: Judi Dench (J. Edgar). The performance doesn't appear to be sizable enough, even if Dench is always a player.
CURRENT PREDIX: Berenice Bejo (The Artist); Sandra Bullock (Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close); Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids); Carey Mulligan (Shame); Vanessa Redgrave (Coriolanus); Octavia Spencer (The Help)