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Oscar Futures: American Hustle Steals Into View

'American Hustle.'

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

American Hustle. After a good-but-muted bow to select press, David O. Russell's con-artist dramedy has picked up major steam: It waltzed away with the top honors given by the New York Film Critics Circle, and we’ve heard about other high-profile critics who are equally besotted.

The Wolf of Wall Street. Wolf screens for most members of the media later today, but those who've already caught it say that Scorsese has delivered a wild ride that belies the film's three-hour running time. The only question is whether its late arrival will mean snubs from most of the organizations voting early this season.

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). David Edelstein says that 12 Years was close to taking the NYFCC's top prize, but McQueen still managed to earn the prestigious Best Director trophy.

Joel and Ethan Coen (Inside Llewyn Davis). The Coens’ work on Inside Llewyn Davis is coming in for strong but backhanded praise from critics, like A.O. Scott in the Times, whose rave review notes that the movie's characters “are the playthings of a pair of cruel and capricious fraternal deities whose affection for their creatures is often indistinguishable from contempt.” Our own David Edelstein, called the movie “an exquisitely crafted tale of woe with … an overarching snottiness."

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

Leonardo DiCaprio (The Wolf of Wall Street). “Leo just knocked someone out of the Best Actor lineup,” says Deadline’s Pete Hammond. “It would be unthinkable to imagine he won’t be in the top five.”

Christian Bale (Out of the Furnace). While he's earning good reviews for this weekend's revenge drama, Bale seems far more likely to sneak into the race for his higher-profile turn in American Hustle, though even that isn't assured in a year where the competition is this fierce.

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

Amy Adams (American Hustle). The Vanity Fair covergirl gets a great against-type showcase in American Hustle … but if she gets in, which of the five ladies long-expected to contend in this category will be pushed out?

Emma Thompson (Saving Mr. Banks). Cate Blanchett will most likely take home the lion's share of awards this season (as she did at the NYFCC), but at least Emma Thompson triumphed with the National Board of Review, who delivered their best year-end kudos list in ages.

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

Jonah Hill (The Wolf of Wall Street). As was heavily implied in Wolf's most recent trailer, Hill is said to be the cast's flashy standout. He's getting in.

Bradley Cooper (American Hustle). We also expect Cooper to break into the category for his role as an ambitious but enjoyably deluded FBI agent in American Hustle. He'll face competition from castmate Jeremy Renner, but Cooper's got much more delicious material to play.

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

Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle). Thirty seconds after the first screening of American Hustle, some pundits were all ready to hand Jennifer Lawrence her second Oscar, and the NYFCC win gave her even more momentum. She's a blast in the movie, and she's enjoying concurrent blockbuster success with Catching Fire, but will Academy members be as anxious to re-reward Lawrence this soon?

Margot Robbie (The Wolf of Wall Street). The Australian newcomer has a lot of industry buzz for her role as DiCaprio's main squeeze in The Wolf of Wall Street, but Deadline's Pete Hammond thinks she's a few scenes shy of an award-worthy performance.

Current Predix: Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle); Lupita Nyong'o (12 Years a Slave); Julia Roberts (August: Osage County); June Squibb (Nebraska); Oprah Winfrey (Lee Daniels' The Butler)