Oscar Futures: On the Eve of the Nominations

The Descendants Photo: Fox Searchlight

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. In addition to tracking all the awards minutiae on our dedicated Oscars page, Vulture's Oscar Futures column 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: The Descendants. After plenty of other contenders have come and gone, crucial Globes wins in Best Drama and Best Actor put The Descendants back on the map as the potential Best Picture alternative to juggernaut The Artist. DOWN: Bridesmaids. The Globes has separate categories for comedy, and still Bridesmaids didn't break through. Can it really make the Best Picture cut with the much tougher Oscar membership? CURRENT PREDIX: The Artist; The Descendants; The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo; The Help; Hugo; Midnight in Paris; Moneyball Best Director UP: Martin Scorsese (Hugo). Scorsese was something of a surprise winner at the Globes, but for Oscar voters looking to spread the wealth between sure-thing Best Picture winner The Artist and other movies, was this a lightbulb moment? DOWN: Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist). He's still presumed to be the frontrunner, but losing to Scorsese will dent him just a bit. Still, he can take consolation in the fact that last year's Oscar winner Tom Hooper didn't get the Globe, either. CURRENT PREDIX: Woody Allen (Midnight in Paris); David Fincher (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo); Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist); Alexander Payne (The Descendants); Martin Scorsese (Hugo); Best Actor UP: George Clooney (The Descendants). Clooney gave a charming, quotable speech at the Globes, singling out his competitors for special recognition. (Michael Fassbender, it's an honor just to have Clooney joke about how hung you are.) DOWN: Brad Pitt (Moneyball). If ever there were an organization to give Pitt the trophy, it's the glamour-worshipping Globes. Alas, both Clooney and Jean Dujardin scored and left Pitt out in the cold. At least he's prettier than Angie! 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). Coming out of the doldrums, Michelle Williams stripped down to her skivvies and gave a heart-breaking, emotional interview to GQ this week. It won't necessarily put her over frontrunners Meryl Streep and Viola Davis, but it gives her campaign new heat. DOWN: Viola Davis (The Help). Her rival Streep won the Globe and gave a hilarious filibuster of a speech. That could be enough to tip things in this very, very close race. 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: Christopher Plummer (Beginners). This one's locked up. The only suspense left comes from who else will make the category: Jonah Hill? Armie Hammer? Andy Serkis? DOWN: Albert Brooks (Drive). We would really love to see Albert Brooks make a televised acceptance speech this season. It looks like it's not going to happen, though. CURRENT PREDIX: Kenneth Branagh (My Week With Marilyn); Albert Brooks (Drive); Jonah Hill (Moneyball); Nick Nolte (Warrior); Christopher Plummer (Beginners) Best Supporting Actress UP: Octavia Spencer (The Help). The Globe win re-asserted Spencer as the dominant force in this category, and what's more, there doesn't seem to be a strong number-two threatening her. It looks like she'll coast to Oscar. DOWN: Jessica Chastain (The Help). Right now, Chastain seems like the only other pick who people are loving, but there's no way she can beat the costar from her own movie. If Melissa McCarthy breaks into the Oscar category, can she peel off votes from Spencer simply to reward something wholly different? CURRENT PREDIX: Berenice Bejo (The Artist); Jessica Chastain (The Help); Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids); Janet McTeer (Albert Nobbs); Octavia Spencer (The Help)