OSCAR PREDICTIONS 2016: The music and sound categories

(Image: popbreak.com)


The 88th Academy Awards, hosted by Chris Rock, are rapidly approaching on Sunday, February 28, 2015.  Who or what will walk off that stage with an Oscar?  On this website, I've been tabulating all of the minor and lead-up award winners in all of the Oscar categories since last November on my 2016 Awards Tracker.  Those results have been my data trends to predict what films are going to win.  In this first post, we look at the musical and sound categories that include original score, original song, sound editing, and sound mixing.  Stick with me and I will win you your Oscar pool!


The nominees:  Thomas Newman for "Bridge of Spies," John Williams for "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," Ennio Morricone for "The Hateful Eight," Johann Johannsson for "Sicario," and Carter Burwell for "Carol"

AWARDS TRACKER (number of prior award wins in this category):  14- Morricone, 4- Junkie XL for "Mad Max: Fury Road," 3- Atticus Ross for "Love and Mercy," 2- Carter Burwell for "Carol," and five others with one win.

Who was snubbed:  This is a strong field, but there is always room for more and better.  I'm kind of surprised in the wave of all things "The Revenant" that the Ryuichi Sakamoto/Alva Nota score wasn't nominated.  One snub that stands out to me is Howard Shore's calculated and steady work on "Spotlight."  Two scores I was personally partial to were Stephen Rennick's score from "Room" and Ludwig Gorannson for "Creed."  From the data, Junkie XL's non-traditional electronic music from "Mad Max: Fury Road" is the biggest name skipped.

Happy to be there:  There's an odd connection of fate in this category between Thomas Newman and John Williams.  Newman replaced Williams on "Bridge of Spies" after Williams passed on Spielberg for the first time in decades to return to "Star Wars."  It's fun to see them both get nominated together.

Who should win:  If I'm picking here, this is a no-brainer for John Williams.  His music for "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" adds to his legend and is the richest work of the nominees.  Second place would go to Johann Johannson's suspenseful pulse for "Sicario."  

Who will win:  This is going to end up being a career achievement award for Ennio Morricone for "The Hateful Eight."  While it's nice to see him emerge at age 87 to work with Quentin Tarantino, his score was nothing special and too much of a copy of his previous works.  That said, he's a lock to win and he's earned this after six nominations and no wins in his illustrious career


The nominees:  "Writing's on the Wall" from "Spectre," "Earned It" from "Fifty Shades of Grey," "Manta Ray" for "Racing Extinction," "Simple Song #3" from "Youth," and "Til It Happens to You" from "The Hunting Ground"

AWARDS TRACKER (number of prior award wins in this category):  9- "See You Again" from "Furious 7," 2- "One Kind of Love" from "Love and Mercy," 2- "Writing's on the Wall," and two other songs with one minor win.  

Who was snubbed:  Without a doubt, one of the biggest populist snubs of the entire awards ceremony is Wiz Khalifa's big hit "See You Again" song from "Furious 7" being left out of the field.  There goes your last love letter moment for Paul Walker.  I would have liked to see one song from that excellent "Creed" soundtrack also make the final five.

Happy to be there:  When even the biggest film-based song hit of the year can't get nominated, all of these finalists should be happy to be there.  None should be more happy than the obscure nominees from little-seen films like "Racing Extinction," "The Hunting Ground" and "Youth."  This category also gives "Fifty Shades of Grey" the honor of calling itself an Academy Award nominee.

Who should win and will win:  Lady Gaga is the toast of Tinsletown right now.  She's a Golden Globe winner on TV for "American Horror Story" and should continue momentum to the Emmy Awards.  She just rocked the national anthem at the Super Bowl to rave reviews and scored points with her Julie Andrews tribute at last year's Oscars.  The Q-rating and universal love is enough to propel Lady Gaga and "The Hunting Ground" to the win.


The nominees:  "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," "Mad Max: Fury Road," "The Martian," "The Revenant," and "Sicario"

AWARDS TRACKER (number of prior award wins in this category):  4- "Mad Max: Fury Road," 2- "The Revenant," and three other films with only one win.

Who was snubbed:  Considering that same four main nominees populate both sound design categories with a token fifth, there was probably room to spread the wealth.  Films like "Creed," "Jurassic World," "Spectre," and "Inside Out" would have been stellar choices.

Happy to be there:  The aforementioned token fifth nominee next to the bigger contenders is "Sicario," but that film deserves to be there.  The weakest nominee from a technical standpoint in this category is definitely "The Revenant."  It's natural simplicity doesn't ring sound editing, though it did earn a BAFTA in a surprise.

Who should win:  When I think of sound editing, I think of clean sounds and calculated choices.  My vote would be "The Martian" here for those reasons.  The sounds and variations from Ridley Scott's film are impeccable and fit every scene.

Who will win:  I think we're going to see "Mad Max: Fury Road" and "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" splitting these two audio awards.  From an editing standpoint, I'm putting my money on "Star Wars: The Force Awakens."  I think this is the suitable spot where it is better than George Miller's film.


The nominees:  "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," "Mad Max: Fury Road," "The Martian," "The Revenant," and "Bridge of Spies"

AWARDS TRACKER (number of prior award wins in this category):   4- "Mad Max: Fury Road," 2- "The Revenant," and three others with only one win.

Who was snubbed:  "Sicario" made the Sound Editing category, but was left out of Sound Mixing.  It deserved the double nomination.  Once again, you could make an argument for "Inside Out," "Jurassic World," and "Spectre" to join the club.

Happy to be there:  "Bridge of Spies" is the lucky fifth name in this category and is the weakest nominee, right next to "The Revenant" again as not a sound-intensive film.

Who should win:  For years, the folks at LucasFilm and ILM have made the "Star Wars" franchise films technical marvels for combining the beeps and blips with soaring music seamlessly.  J.J. Abrams and his team have carried on that excellence with "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" which hums with an outstanding swirl of sounds.  

Who will win:  I'm going to let the data sway me on this one.  "The Revenant" just won the Best Sound Mixing Award from the Cinema Audio Society, the highest pool of potential Oscar voters for this awards.  I'm going to shun "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" and the "Mad Max: Fury Road" Oscar sweep.