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.
Let's check out the chart:
Argo. Ben Affleck's well-liked thriller ascended to the top of the box office in its third weekend, holding on with an incredible box-office drop of only 26 percent (even as it lost almost 400 screens to new titles).
Silver Linings Playbook. Briefly considered the front-runner after its rapturous screening at the Toronto Film Festival, Tom O'Neil notes that Silver Linings has since fallen back to No. 3 in experts' estimations, behind Argo and Les Miserables. Still, its actual release should give the film a big boost.
Michael Haneke (Amour). The Austrian filmmaking master is a real threat this year for the Academy-friendly Amour, and In Contention's Kris Tapley just made room for Haneke on his short list. (Sorry, Paul Thomas Anderson and David O. Russell.)
Sacha Gervasi, (Hitchcock). The first-time narrative filmmaker got two strong performances from his leads in this making-of-Psycho biopic (more on that in just a moment), but he's not going to break into this category's formidable ranks.
Denzel Washington (Flight). Even the Flight pans heap praise on Washington, while our own David Edelstein called the actor's performance "titanic." Meanwhile, audiences find the actor to be (son of) godly.
Anthony Hopkins (Hitchcock). Hopkins is also up (two "up" arrows this week!), but with some reservations: It's a well-done performance, and it ticks off many Oscar notes, but is Hitch too cool and removed a character for Hopkins to break through in this category? His leading lady may be a better bet ...
Helen Mirren (Hitchcock). Jennifer Lawrence has a defiant monologue in Silver Linings Playbook that prompted impressed applause at the film's Toronto premiere, and at last night's Hitchcock debut at the AFI Film Fest, Mirren was gifted with same juicy speech and crowd reaction. The Oscar-winning actress is a virtual shoo-in for a nomination as the film's warmest character and audience surrogate.
Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty). Chastain got a withering review by Times theater critic Ben Brantley this week, who called her performance in The Heiress on Broadway "shadowless" and "mentally challenged." So there is someone who doesn't love Jessica Chastain! (And unfortunately, that naysayer is widely read.)
Tommy Lee Jones (Lincoln). Now that Lincoln's no longer a "work in progress," Variety's critic Peter Debruge weighed in with special dispensation for "Jones' alternately blistering and sage turn."
Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained). We want to see you play the villain in the sequel to The Muppets, Christoph. We do. But it's not exactly the sort of news that's going to help you leapfrog past Django co-star Leonardo DiCaprio to snag a nomination.
Helena Bonham Carter (Les Miserables). Finally, a visual reminder that Helena Bonham Carter really is in this movie as the villainously comic Mme. Thenardier! Now can we get some footage, please?
Scarlett Johansson (Hitchcock). Johansson is really appealing as steadfast, spunky Janet Leigh in Hitchcock, but there's not enough there for awards consideration.