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Oscar Futures: Captain Phillips Sails Into the Race

Tom Hanks stars in Columbia Pictures' "Captain Phillips." 'Captain Phillips.'

Every week between now and January 16, when the nominations are announced, Vulture will consult its crystal ball to determine the changing fortunes in this year's Oscar race. Check back every Friday for our Oscar Futures column, when we'll let you in on insider gossip, confer with other awards season pundits, and track industry buzz to figure out who's up, who's down, and who's currently leading the race for a coveted Oscar nomination.

Let's check out this week's chart:

Best Picture

Captain Phillips. Strong reviews out of the New York Film Festival (plus a winning Reddit AMA from star Tom Hanks) presage a long voyage for this Paul Greengrass–directed hostage drama.

Rush. Ron Howard's latest was blessed with sterling reviews — 88 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, plus a flat-out rave from Variety — but it doesn't seem to be catching on at the box office, where it managed a meh $10 million on its first wide release weekend.

Current Predix: 12 Years a Slave; American Hustle; Blue Jasmine; Lee Daniels' The Butler; Captain Phillips; Gravity; Inside Llewyn Davis; Nebraska; Saving Mr. Banks
Best Director

Alfonso Cuarón (Gravity). Cuarón's space epic has won over most critics, and his peers in the directors' branch are even more enthusiastic. "bow now to @AlfonsoCuaron and #Gravity. in #awe of it," tweeted Darren Aronofsky, who was nominated for his last film, Black Swan. "[Gravity is the] type of show we will all keep learning from for years to come."

Paul Greengrass (Captain Phillips). It's exhausting to even think about how Greengrass pulled off the mammoth Captain Phillips — and on water, no less.

Current Predix: Alfonso Cuarón (Gravity); Paul Greengrass (Captain Phillips); Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave); David O. Russell (American Hustle); Alexander Payne (Nebraska)
Best Actor

Bruce Dern (Nebraska). We went all-in on Dern in this week's magazine, and expect plenty more profiles of the Oscar contender with the role he's "waited 77 years for."

Robert Redford (All Is Lost). David Thomson gave the lost-at-sea drama All Is Lost received a timely bump in the New Republic this week, declaring that for his impressive one-man show, Robert Redford "deserves what has never come to him before, an Oscar for Best Actor."

Current Predix: Bruce Dern (Nebraska); Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave); Tom Hanks (Captain Phillips); Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club); Robert Redford (All Is Lost)
Best Actress

Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine). Queen Cate cemented her pace-setter status with a gala tribute at the New York Film Festival this past week. She's had the entire summer to herself … can she now be beat?

Julie Delpy (Before Midnight). As we barrel into fall, Oscar pundits have been eulogizing the talented indie actresses like Greta Gerwig and Brie Larson who are likely to be squeezed out of this Oscar category; while we're on the subject, can we pour one out for Julie Delpy? Her work in Before Midnight is simply ferocious, and it's a shame that this performance, which she co-scripted herself, isn't destined for more laurels.

Current Predix: Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine); Sandra Bullock (Gravity); Judi Dench (Philomena); Meryl Streep (August: Osage County); Emma Thompson (Saving Mr. Banks)
Best Supporting Actor

Barkhad Abdi (Captain Phillips). As the pirate foe to Tom Hanks, Barkhad Abdi makes a powerful impression in Captain Phillips, and NYFF audiences went gaga for the actor and his unique backstory. If only Oscar weren't so hostile to male newcomers…

Jeremy Renner (American Hustle). Buzz is starting to heat up that Bradley Cooper is American Hustle's best shot at a performance nod, which could squeeze out his supporting partner Renner. And admit it, which of those five fab American Hustle posters were you the least jazzed about?

Current Predix: Daniel Bruhl (Rush); Michael Fassbender (12 Years a Slave); James Gandolfini (Enough Said); Tom Hanks (Saving Mr. Banks); Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club)
Best Supporting Actress

Julia Roberts (August: Osage County). Oscar pundits have been wondering which races the ladies of August: Osage County would submit themselves for, and until recently, it looked like both Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts would be vying for Best Actress. This week, though, Roberts was officially dropped down to supporting contention, where she ought to have an easy time of it. A supporting actress trophy at the Hollywood Film Awards will help bolster her candidacy.

Margo Martindale (August: Osage County). Now that Roberts has entered the ring, will there be room enough for both her and Martindale? At least she's got history going for her: In both 2010 and 2011, this category was crammed with two actresses from the same film (Melissa Leo and Amy Adams for The Fighter, and Octavia Spencer and Jessica Chastian for The Help).

Current Predix:Margo Martindale (August: Osage County); Lupita Nyong'o (12 Years a Slave); Julia Roberts (August: Osage County); June Squibb (Nebraska); Oprah Winfrey (Lee Daniels' The Butler)
Photo: Courtesy of Columbia Pictures.