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Oscar Futures: Will Judi Dench Get Lucky With a Seventh Nomination?

_D3S1363.NEF 'Philomena.'

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

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.

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

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.

Current Predix: Alfonso Cuarón (Gravity); Paul Greengrass (Captain Phillips); Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave); David O. Russell (American Hustle); Martin Scorsese (The Wolf of Wall Street)
Best Actor

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.

Idris Elba (Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom). The charming Elba has been making the rounds, too, but all anyone wants to talk about is Luke Cage or James Bond, not his unevenly reviewed Mandela biopic.

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

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.

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

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.

Current Predix: Michael Fassbender (12 Years a Slave); James Gandolfini (Enough Said); Jonah Hill (The Wolf of Wall Street; Tom Hanks (Saving Mr. Banks); Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club)
Best Supporting Actress

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.

Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle). She's terrific in this week's well-reviewed Catching Fire, and it's telling that nearly all of the advance clips and commercials from American Hustle are spotlighting her comedic role.

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: Alex Bailey/© 2013 Pathe Productions Limited, British Broadcasting Corporation, British Film Institute and Philomena Lee Limited