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Oscar Futures: Django and Les Miz Enter With Guns Blazing

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 this week's chart:

Best Picture

Les Misérables. And we're off to the races: After a round of critical battering, Les Miz burnished its image with a big opening day at the box office on Christmas. With nearly $40 million banked in just three days, it's possible that this could be our highest-grossing Best Picture contender after the nominations come in.

Django Unchained. Though it couldn't topple Les Miz — and The Hobbit supplanted it at the box office yesterday — Django still opened strongly, delivering Tarantino's highest opening-day gross ever.

Current Predix: Amour; Argo; Beasts of the Southern Wild; Les Misérables; Life of Pi; Lincoln; Silver Linings Playbook; Zero Dark Thirty
Best Director

Ben Affleck (Argo). As congressional chatter threatened to overwhelm Argo's Oscar buzz, Affleck put those senatorial rumors to bed. Meanwhile, Roger Ebert gave Argo the top spot on his year-end top-ten list.

Ang Lee (Life of Pi). Silver Linings Playbook director David O. Russell is presumed to be the weak sister in this category, but at least he keeps grabbing headlines and riding the party circuit. Meanwhile, all's gone quiet in Lee's corner.

Current Predix: Ben Affleck (Argo); Kathryn Bigelow (Zero Dark Thirty); Tom Hooper (Les Misérables); Ang Lee (Life of Pi); Steven Spielberg (Lincoln)
Best Actor

Hugh Jackman (Les Misérables). A strong opening week at the box office solidifies Jackman's nod here.

Matt Damon (Promised Land). Damon's star power is crucial in this antihero role, but the film's too small to rate against these other showy, sure-to-be-nominated performances.

Current Predix: Bradley Cooper (Silver Linings Playbook); Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln); John Hawkes (The Sessions); Hugh Jackman (Les Misérables); Denzel Washington (Flight)
Best Actress

Quvenzhane Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild). Can A.O. Scott's big New York Times love letter to Beasts help boost the chances of young Wallis, left out in the cold by the Golden Globes?

Helen Mirren (Hitchcock). She surprised with two nods from SAG and the Globes, so why hasn't there been a peep since? Mirren's been busy filming the sequel to Red, but one wonders if her sudden momentum two weeks ago hasn't wasted away.

Current Predix: Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty); Marion Cotillard (Rust and Bone); Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook); Quvenzhane Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild); Naomi Watts (The Impossible)
Best Supporting Actor

Leonardo DiCaprio (Django Unchained). A solid Django opening, a Today show confessional, and the (unconfirmed but delightful) report that he walked his Titanic co-star Kate Winslet down the aisle at her recent wedding? You win the week, Leo.

Russell Crowe (Les Misérables). Critics keep hammering Crowe's performance in the film. Won't anyone step up to defend him? (I tried, kind of.)

Current Predix: Alan Arkin (Argo); Robert De Niro (Silver Linings Playbook); Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Master); Tommy Lee Jones (Lincoln); Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained)
Best Supporting Actress

Anne Hathaway (Les Misérables). Annie Hath continues her press tour, a mere prelude to victory at this point. That brief YouTube leak yesterday of Hathaway's "I Dreamed a Dream" helped; as Movieline editor Jen Yamato wrote in her headline, "Listen to Anne Hathaway Sing 'I Dreamed a Dream,' Pinpoint Exactly When She Earns That 'Les Mis' Oscar."

Nicole Kidman (The Paperboy). Kidman remains even this week; while the race is Hathaway's to lose (and she won't), it's impossible to ignore the momentum Kidman has gained as of late. It truly will be an honor just to get nominated for a film that no one would have dared to predict laurels for months ago.

Current Predix:Sally Field (Lincoln); Anne Hathaway (Les Misérables); Helen Hunt (The Sessions); Nicole Kidman (The Paperboy); Maggie Smith (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel)