Oscar Futures: ‘Milk’ Still Buzzy After Tough Week

Every week between now and February 2, 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 to insider gossip, comb the Oscar 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.

Best Picture UP: Milk. Despite a controversy this week over its marketing, the film survived its first screenings with no major buzzkills. DOWN: Gran Torino. Clint Eastwood's Plan B looks like an unlikely top contender after its trailer underwhelms.
CURRENT PREDIX: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Milk, Revolutionary Road, Slumdog Millionaire, Wall-E
Best Director UP: Christopher Nolan, The Dark Knight. As Anne Thompson points out, "no director submits to a long interview in the LAT in advance of a DVD release unless Oscar is at stake" — and Warner Bros. is mounting a full-scale campaign. DOWN: Clint Eastwood, Gran Torino. Did you know he's never won an Oscar for acting? That's what he'll campaign for.
CURRENT PREDIX: Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire; Clint Eastwood, Gran Torino; David Fincher, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button; Sam Mendes, Revolutionary Road; Christopher Nolan, The Dark Knight; Gus Van Sant, Milk
Best Actor UP: Sean Penn, Milk. His performance earns the week's biggest rave: "I felt a genuine gayness from Sean Penn … that I didn't think he had in him." DOWN: Michael Sheen, Frost/Nixon. It's a crowded field and if anyone from F/N gets in, it'll be Langella. Like Tom O'Neil says, Sheen would be better off in the supporting category.
CURRENT PREDIX: Leonardo DiCaprio, Revolutionary Road; Frank Langella, Frost/Nixon; Sean Penn, Milk; Brad Pitt, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button; Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler
Best Actress UP: Kristin Scott Thomas, I've Loved You So Long. Stellar reviews make this one feel like a lock. DOWN: Anne Hathaway, Rachel Getting Married. This category is getting pretty competitive — was she really as good as everybody thought two weeks ago?
CURRENT PREDIX: Anne Hathaway, Rachel Getting Married; Angelina Jolie, Changeling; Kristen Scott Thomas, I've Loved You So Long; Meryl Streep, Doubt; Kate Winslet, Revolutionary Road
Best Supporting Actor UP: Dev Patel, Slumdog Millionaire. Everyone loves his movie, plus he's a lead actor competing in the supporting category. DOWN: Josh Brolin, Milk. Those who saw the film this week seem more excited about James Franco's performance.
CURRENT PREDIX: Josh Brolin, Milk; James Franco, Milk; Philip Seymour Hoffman, Doubt; Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight; Dev Patel, Slumdog Millionaire; Michael Shannon, Revolutionary Road
Best Supporting Actress UP: Penélope Cruz, Vicky Cristina Barcelona. It's a weak field this year and she's still the consensus front-runner. DOWN: Catherine Keener, Synecdoche, New York. Mixed reviews for the movie make this long shot a really long shot.
CURRENT PREDIX: Penélope Cruz, Vicky Cristina Barcelona; Rosemarie DeWitt, Rachel Getting Married; Taraji P. Henson, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button; Marisa Tomei, The Wrestler; Kate Winslet, The Reader
Oscar Futures: ‘Milk’ Still Buzzy After Tough Week