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Oscar Futures: Will Dragon Tattoo Change the Race?

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: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. The late-arrival contender got a glowing write-up in the NYT today, where reporter Brooks Barnes said that early buzz on the film claims that it's "superb, but emotionally harrowing -- one box of Kleenex might not suffice." DOWN: Midnight in Paris. Martin Scorsese's Hugo is making a surge for the top category, and with so many elements in common -- Paris, period, and a nostalgic love for dead artists -- will it cannibalize Woody Allen's summer hit?
CURRENT PREDIX: The Artist; The Descendants; Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close; The Help; Midnight in Paris; Moneyball; War Horse
Best Director UP: David Fincher (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo). Fincher also benefited from a NYT love-letter profile this week (producer Scott Rudin is going two-for-two!) and came out looking the most sensible from the Dragon Tattoo embargo imbroglio. DOWN: Tomas Alfredson (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy). Bret Easton Ellis describes the scene from an LA screening of Tinker this week: "The snores in the theater, the grumbling in the men's room: this grim, oppressively exquisite thing is so confusing it's almost parodic…"
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: Jean Dujardin (The Artist). The more your Oscar Futures correspondent talks to industry voters, the more he gets the vibe that Dujardin is the one to beat. DOWN: Daniel Craig (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo). There's Oscar buzz for a lead performance in the movie, but this ain't the one.
CURRENT PREDIX: George Clooney (The Descendants); Leonardo DiCaprio (J. Edgar); Jean Dujardin (The Artist); Michael Fassbender (Shame); Brad Pitt (Moneyball)
Best Actress UP: Rooney Mara (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo). Jeff Wells caught a screening and blogged about Mara's potential to shake up the Oscar race (though Sony flexed its embargo muscle and Wells took the column down). DOWN: Glenn Close (Albert Nobbs). We love her photo in the that great "Touch of Evil" portfolio, but the Indie Spirit snub last week had to hurt.
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: Ben Kingsley (Hugo). We're not sure what to make of the supposed Hugo surge: Sure, it topped the National Board of Review honors, but no one took the NBR seriously before this, so why now? Still, Kingsley is undeniable. DOWN: Kenneth Branagh (My Week With Marilyn). He's starting to slip off Oscar pundits' charts.
CURRENT PREDIX: Kenneth Branagh (My Week With Marilyn); Albert Brooks (Drive); Ben Kingsley (Hugo); Christopher Plummer (Beginners); Max von Sydow (Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close)
Best Supporting Actress UP: Sandra Bullock (Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close). Bullock gets all the "box of Kleenex" material in the new trailer. DOWN: Vanessa Redgrave (Coriolanus). She could use a critics group award to keep her in the game, because she's battling much buzzier movies.
CURRENT PREDIX: Berenice Bejo (The Artist); Sandra Bullock (Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close); Carey Mulligan (Shame); Vanessa Redgrave (Coriolanus); Octavia Spencer (The Help)