Oscar Futures: Special Monday Edition

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 for insider gossip, comb the 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: Nine. For a movie this well pedigreed not to get a nomination, something would have to have gone terribly wrong. A "big response" at a SAG screening seemingly indicates that that hasn't happened. DOWN: The Lovely Bones. An anonymous friend of Jeffrey Wells, who's seen the movie, says Peter Jackson's gone and made "What Dreams May Come, Part II." Yikes!
CURRENT PREDIX: Bright Star, An Education, The Hurt Locker, Invictus, Nine, Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire, A Serious Man, A Single Man, Up, Up in the Air
Best Director UP: Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds. Using some creative logic, Tom O'Neil declares him the front-runner for this year's DGA award (we're less convinced by O'Neil's prediction that Basterds will also win Best Picture). DOWN: James Cameron, Avatar. With only 26 days until the movie's release, 30 minutes are reportedly still unfinished. Hasn't he had a decade to work on this thing?
CURRENT PREDIX: Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker; Lee Daniels, Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire; Clint Eastwood, Invictus; Rob Marshall, Nine; Jason Reitman, Up in the Air.
Best Actor UP: Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart. Just three weeks after entering the race, he's already the prohibitive favorite. And a great-looking new trailer subtly reminds us that the "four-time Academy Award nominee" has never won. DOWN: Morgan Freeman, Invictus. Someone who's seen the movie tells Nathaniel Rogers that Freeman's performance is "pretty boring."
CURRENT PREDIX: Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart; George Clooney, Up in the Air; Colin Firth, A Single Man; Morgan Freeman, Invictus.
Best Actress UP: Gabourey Sidibe, Precious. Her charm offensive on The Tonight Show helped Precious pull down another $11 million over the weekend, even in the face of Twilight mania.DOWN: Sandra Bullock, The Blind Side. Her strategy of releasing Blind so quickly after the worse-by-comparison The Proposal and All About Steve does not fool critics. Still, it made for her biggest-ever opening, so you never know.
CURRENT PREDIX: Abbie Cornish, Bright Star; Helen Mirren, The Last Station; Carey Mulligan, An Education; Gabourey Sidibe, Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire; Meryl Streep, Julie & Julia.
Best Supporting Actor UP: Alec Baldwin, It's Complicated. Another of Jeff Wells's anonymous sources says Baldwin's a "a lay-down hand for a nom ... And he could win." We suppose there's no law that says the host can't take home an Oscar. DOWN: Stanley Tucci, The Lovely Bones. In an interview last week, Peter Jackson spoiled the ending and makes one of Tucci's big scenes sound a little silly.
CURRENT PREDIX: Matt Damon, Invictus; Alfred Molina, An Education; Christopher Plummer, The Last Station; Stanley Tucci, The Lovely Bones; Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds.
Best Supporting Actress UP: Mo'Nique, Precious. Another week goes by in which no formidable challenger has emerged, and Mo'Nique's done nothing to screw this up for herself. They could pretty safely give her the damn Oscar today. DOWN: Penélope Cruz, Nine. She seems great as a bipolar sexpot in a new clip. But didn't we just give her an award for playing a bipolar sexpot?
CURRENT PREDIX: Penélope Cruz, Nine; Judi Dench, Nine; Anna Kendrick, Up in the Air; Mo'nique, Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire; Julianne Moore, A Single Man.
Oscar Futures: Special Monday Edition