Oscar Futures: A Big Week for ‘Slumdog’

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: Slumdog Millionaire. Ecstatic reviews (plus a full-on publicity assault by Danny Boyle) make this likely contender seem like a likelier one. DOWN: Australia. Anonymous insiders and Fox executives can disagree all they want over who's to blame for the changed ending, but even Oprah's endorsement can't change the fact that it's not done yet and it opens in two weeks.
CURRENT PREDIX: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Milk, Revolutionary Road, Slumdog Millionaire, Wall-E
Best Director UP: Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire. His films are always interesting, but he's never been recognized — is this his year? Critics seem to think so! DOWN: Ed Zwick, Defiance. Despite a strong pair of lead performances, reviews call his movie "flatly unexceptional."
CURRENT PREDIX: Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire; David Fincher, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button; Sam Mendes, Revolutionary Road; Christopher Nolan, The Dark Knight; Gus Van Sant, Milk
Best Actor UP: Frank Langella, Frost/Nixon. Universal released a clip of his big scene this week. We're sold. DOWN: Brad Pitt, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Early reviews for the movie call his performance "nice" and "subtle" — or don't mention it at all. If Button is good, will David Fincher just get all the credit?
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. Buzz is still strong (Jeffrey Wells just called her performance "the stuff of legend"), and Oscar voters got screeners of her movie this week. DOWN: Nicole Kidman, Australia. Will her performance pack the same emotional resonance with the film's new, happier ending?
CURRENT PREDIX: Anne Hathaway, Rachel Getting Married; Angelina Jolie, Changeling; Kristin Scott Thomas, I've Loved You So Long; Meryl Streep, Doubt; Kate Winslet, Revolutionary Road
Best Supporting Actor UP: Dev Patel, Slumdog Millionaire. His role isn't anything flashy, but he's a lead actor competing in a supporting category and critics love his movie. DOWN: Liev Schreiber, Defiance. His performance may be great, but it'll probably go unnoticed if the movie's as dull as reviews say.
CURRENT PREDIX: James Franco, Milk; Philip Seymour Hoffman, Doubt; Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight; Dev Patel, Slumdog Millionaire; Michael Shannon, Revolutionary Road
Best Supporting Actress UP: Rosemarie DeWitt, Rachel Getting Married. Buzz on the movie (and Anne Hathaway) isn't quite what it was, but in a sorta weak category, DeWitt's looking like a strong contender. DOWN: Taraji P. Henson, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Does the fact that she's acting alongside a freaky CG old-man baby diminish the power of her performance? Yes, says someone who's seen it.
CURRENT PREDIX: Penélope Cruz, Vicky Cristina Barcelona; Viola Davis, Doubt; Rosemarie DeWitt, Rachel Getting Married; Taraji P. Henson, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button; Kate Winslet, The Reader
Oscar Futures: A Big Week for ‘Slumdog’