OSCAR PREDICTIONS 2015: The music and sound categories

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PART 2: THE MUSIC AND SOUND CATEGORIES

The 87th Academy Awards, hosted by Neil Patrick Harris, are set for Sunday, February 22nd and it's time to analyze just who or what is going to be walking off that stage with an Oscar.  If you follow my website, you will know that I've been tabulating all of the minor and lead-up award winners in all of the Oscar categories since last November on my 2015 Awards Tracker.  To put it in educational terms to match this website's theme, those numbers have been my "data analysis" to predicting just what films are going to win.   It's time to begin making my formal and official Oscar predictions.  In this second post, we look at the musical and sound categories that include original score, original song, sound editing, and sound mixing.  Let's do this!

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE

The nominees:  Alexandre Desplat- "The Grand Budapest Hotel," Alexandre Desplat- "The Imitation Game," Hans Zimmer- "Interstellar," Gary Yershon- "Mr. Turner," Johann Johannson- "The Theory of Everything"

AWARDS TRACKER (number of prior award wins in this category):  

8- Antonio Sanchez- "Birdman," 8- Mica Levi- "Under the Skin," 3- "The Grand Budapest Hotel," 2- "Interstellar," 2- Jonny Greenwood- "Inherent Vice," 1- "The Theory of Everything," 1- James Newton Howard- "Nightcrawler," 1- "The Imitation Game"

Who was snubbed:  Film music is something that I have a big connection with.  Musical scores fill my iPod more than anything else.  The two biggest snubs are the two highest performers on the "Awards Tracker" data: "Birdman" and "Under the Skin."  Antonio Sanchez's solo drum score for "Birdman" was disqualified from Oscar consideration because of ancient rules that call for an orchestra and not a solo work.  That dumb technicality took away the clear frontrunner.  Mica Levi's spooky work on the little-seen "Under the Skin" might be the best and most memorable score from all of last year, but no one saw the film enough to give it an Oscar push in a small category like this.

Happy to be there:  The most unexpected and borderline obscure nominee out of these five is, by far, Gary Yershon for "Mr. Turner."  The film is more notable for its visuals and period detail than it is for its sound.  Frankly, Yershon's score was too vague and boring to make much sense in an already dense film.

Who should win:  Pick either score from Alexandre Desplat and you would have a deserving winner.  These latest two nominations for "The Imitation Game" and "The Grand Budapest Hotel" are his seventh and eighth career Oscar nominations in this category.  He has never won, but neither has Hans Zimmer in his eight nominations either.  His "Interstellar" work is inspired, but not enough people are into it.  I think Desplat will split his own vote, paving the way for a newcomer to be the winner.    

Who will win:  The Desplat vote splitting will open the door for Johann Johannson for "The Theory of Everything" to swoop in for the win.  I don't think it's much of a memorable score, but it did win the Golden Globe and get some attention.  This is purely prognosticating.  It's in an artsy film with an artsy score.  That's normally enough.

BEST ORIGINAL SONG

The nominees:  "Everything is Awesome"- "The LEGO Movie," "Glory"- "Selma," "Grateful"- "Beyond the Lights," "I'm Not Going to Miss You"- "Glen Campbell: I'll Be Me," "Lost Stars"- "Begin Again"

AWARDS TRACKER (number of prior award wins in this category):  

4- "Everything is Awesome," 4- "Glory," 1- "What is Love" by Janelle Monae from "Rio," 1- "I Love You All" by Stephen Rennicks from "Frank"

Who was snubbed:  Let me ask you a question.  What original songs do you even remember from movies this past year?  "Everything is Awesome" and nothing else, right?  Yeah, me neither.  I can't name something super strong that was omitted, even among the obscurity present.

Happy to be there:  Speaking of obscurity, there are three really really really lucky songs to be here.  You've got a song from a documentary ("I'm Not Going to Miss You") and two musical films that no one saw ("Grateful" and "Lost Stars").  That's how weak this year was for original film music.  Thankfully, there are two worthy contenders to choose from.

Who should win and who will win:  For as popular as "Everything is Awesome" has been, there's an even better and more appropriate song that deserves the Oscar and that's "Glory" by John Legend and Common from "Selma."  It has the right pedigree, the right brevity, the right message, and it honors the right film.  The difficult dilemma here is that whoever doesn't win Best Original Song, between "Selma" and "The LEGO Movie," will go home empty-handed.  "Selma" isn't winning Best Picture and "The LEGO Movie" was left off Best Animated Feature.  This is it for both films.  Someone has to go home a loser.  Ouch.   

BEST SOUND EDITING

The nominees:  "American Sniper," "Birdman," "The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies," "Interstellar," "Unbroken"

AWARDS TRACKER (number of prior award wins in this category):  

1- "Whiplash," 1- "Gone Girl"

Who was snubbed:  I've stumping for "Whiplash" for a lot of things and one layer of it is its impeccable and uncanny sound.  Damien Chazelle's film was nominated for Best Sound Mixing, but why not give it double love for Best Sound Mixing?  That would have been sweet.

Happy to be there:  Of these five nominees, the one counting its four-leaf clovers is "Unbroken," a movie that had tons of Oscar hopes, but was largely forgotten other than two sound nominations and Best Cinematography.

Who should win:  In my eyes, there are two technically superior films that stand head and shoulders above the others by sheer volume of sound and work.  Those two are "Interstellar" and "The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies."  Both films for their size and scope deserve this Oscar more than what will win.  As always, prestige beats blockbusters every time at the Oscars. 

Who will win:  Maybe that whole "prestige over blockbuster" thing isn't as true as I think because a film that qualifies as both will win this Oscar.  "American Sniper" might not win any of the big awards, but it's the biggest prestige name in this field on a night where films like "Birdman" and "Boyhood" are going to lap it around the track everywhere else.  This is a spot to get the Eastwood mega-hit some hardware to decorate its movie poster and future Blu-ray cover.  

BEST SOUND MIXING

The nominees:  "American Sniper," "Birdman," "Interstellar," "Unbroken," "Whiplash"

AWARDS TRACKER (number of prior award wins in this category):  

1- "Whiplash," 1- "Gone Girl"

Who was snubbed:  It's in technical categories like this where the dramatic lead contenders get their stats padded with nominations.  That ends up pushing out the big budget blockbusters who have more going on in a category like this.  Throw your dart and name anything from "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" to "Guardians of the Galaxy" and all of the busy movies in between.

Happy to be there:  "Unbroken" was already mentioned, so the next lucky one of wannabe lead contenders is "Birdman."  Sure, the film has some strong technical and artistic quality at work, but this isn't the category for it.  

Who should win and will win:  "American Sniper" is likely going to sweep these two sound awards because of how big and popular it is, but I'm going out on a limb and call for the upset from the little guy.  As aforementioned, so much of the appeal of "Whiplash" was its technical precision with editing and sound.  This is an award it should win.  It's a low number, but it does have some Awards Tracker data on its side.  I'm taking the underdog for the surprise win.

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