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:
12 Years a Slave. It was a good contending week for the 12 Years crew, who were out in force: Steve McQueen and his actors hopped from coast to coast to promote the movie at an NYC lunch and LA studio party, then hit up the voter-studded Governors Awards in advance of McQueen's impending honor at the Palm Springs Film Festival.
Fruitvale Station. What kind of shoddy campaign is going on for Fruitvale Station? First they sent out screeners that misidentified Octavia Spencer's contending category, and then the Weinstein website listed Michael B. Jordan and the film's screenplay in the wrong categories, too. Get it together, guys.
Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave). GQ just named McQueen "Auteur of the Year" in a major profile, praising his work on 12 Years as "serious and severe and outright ravishing."
Stephen Frears (Philomena). Any other year, this two-time nominee might be a threat to repeat, but though he's earning good reviews for Philomena, his direction is a little too "impersonal" in a year dominated by standout, A-list auteurs.
Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club). After nabbing a Best Actor award at the Rome Film Festival, the charming McConaughey worked the circuit this past week, popping up at the Governors Awards and at a Dallas Buyers Club lunch at Los Angeles hotspot Craft.
Judi Dench (Philomena). Vogue's John Powers hails Dench in Philomena for giving "one of her finest and most moving performances" as an Irish woman searching for the son she was forced to give up for adoption. (Powers also calls Dench the "Queen of British Cinema," and who's to argue?)
Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Enough Said). For months, I've heard the same question tentatively advanced by fans of Enough Said: "Do you think Julia Louis-Dreyfus has any shot?" Fox Searchlight may now be taking that question seriously, as they brought JLD to the Governors Awards and had her make the rounds at the studio's holiday party.
Daniel Brühl (Rush). Rush drifted out of view at the box office a while back, but Brühl got a shot in the arm when he was the guest of honor at a surprisingly voter-packed Universal brunch this past weekend. He'll need it, with both American Hustle and Wolf of Wall Street threatening to shake up this category.
Steve Coogan (Philomena). Coogan's getting nice notices for Philomena as well, though the British comedian is also a contender for co-writing the film's screenplay.
Scarlett Johansson (Her). Can Johansson make Oscar history for voicing a friendly, soulful operating system in Her? The voice-only nature of the role didn't deter voters at the Rome Film Festival, who gave her the Best Actress trophy.