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.
Lincoln. Hot on the heels of that dynamic debate-day trailer, Steven Spielberg's biopic was announced as the New York Film Festival's imminent secret screening. Disney wouldn't debut it to a crowd full of tough elites unless the studio had total confidence in it ... right?
Beasts of the Southern Wild. Cast as it is with first-time actors, the film was deemed ineligible for SAG nominations, and those serve as an important Oscar precursor.
Ben Affleck (Argo). Have you seen "Affleck told me he's very mindful these days of Oscar race estimations on the top online columns," wrote Jeff Wells, who talked to the actor at Argo's premiere, "and that one of his goals is to lift Argo out of the #4 slot on [my column]." Dude wants it.
Paul Thomas Anderson (The Master). "I can’t escape the feeling that something has gone wrong in his work," opines EW's Owen Gleiberman, "and while there is now a cult for Paul Thomas Anderson … the crucial problem, for me, is that one of the people who now thinks Paul Thomas Anderson is God is Paul Thomas Anderson." Ouch.
Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln). he new trailer allows Day-Lewis to show off the full range of his performance, even if he does sound a little like Michael Moriarty on Law & Order.
Suraj Sharma (Life of Pi). Lost in the award-predicting accolades thrown Pi's way last week? The movie's lead actor, newcomer Suraj Sharma. Too bad they can't nominate the CG tiger for Supporting.
Meryl Streep (Hope Springs). This never really caught on, did it? It may be the rare well-reviewed Streep role to find little awards traction, though a Globe nom isn't out of the cards.
Tommy Lee Jones (Lincoln). This isn't your usual taciturn Tommy Lee Jones: As seen in the new trailer, he's bellowing and bellicose and kind of frightening (and it isn't just that wig). We're into it.
Jared Harris (Lincoln). The Emmy-nominated actor is also part of Lincoln's ridiculously stacked supporting cast, but despite some initial awards buzz, he's not getting the same push as his co-star Jones.
Helen Hunt (The Sessions). Why is this co-lead of The Sessions billing herself as a supporting actress? Maybe because it puts her in a category she can dominate.
Nicole Kidman (The Paperboy). Kidman's getting a lot of attention for her balls-out performance: The NYFF staged a tribute to her this past week, and director Lee Daniels compared Kidman to his Oscar-winning Precious star Mo'Nique. But The Paperboy takes place on another planet, one that Academy blue-hairs can't possibly comprehend..