Every week between now and January 10, 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.
Life of Pi. Ang Lee's 3-D epic screened today in advance of its NYFF premiere and received mostly rapturous raves (with a few dissenters).
Lincoln. It ain't fair, but the New York Post ran a random test screening report that wasn't kind to the film ("My biggest issue with the film as a whole was, it was boring") and will pollute the water until real reviews run.
Ang Lee (Life of Pi). Indiewire's Eric Kohn tweeted that Pi "seems destined for the HUGO slot: F/X-driven, sentimentally involving, respected director."
Terrence Malick (To the Wonder). Malick's latest was hit by mixed to negative reviews on the fest circuit, and though it got distribution this week, it won't come out till next year.
Jack Black (Bernie). Bernie was the first film this awards season to send out screeners, which will put more eyes on Jack Black's deft performance.
Clint Eastwood (Trouble With the Curve). Curve opened below expectations at the box office, and its impact on awards season is already fading.
Elle Fanning (Ginger & Rosa). he nascent A24 Films announced that they'll be waging an aggressive Best Actress campaign for Fanning, but with Quvenzhane Wallis already looking like a lock, is the category big enough for two youngsters?
Viola Davis (Won't Back Down). She's been well-reviewed, but the movie has gotten a very rocky reception.
Robert De Niro (Silver Linings Playbook). Consensus is building among pundits that De Niro's engaged performance is likely to send him into the top five.
Matthew McConaughey (Magic Mike). The party buzz is fading from the summer, as fall heavyweights enter the fray. He'll have to remind voters how great he was by campaigning.
Maggie Smith (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel). The Emmy win helps, just as Melissa McCarthy's Emmy win once presaged her Bridesmaids nomination. Awards voters love Maggie in this mode.
Helena Bonham Carter (Les Miserables). Les Miz has plenty of supporting females that could crowd this category, but it's become conspicuous that Bonham Carter's comic relief character hasn't appeared in any marketing materials at all.