Adam Predicts the Oscars Part 1: Best Score, Original Song, Editing, Visual Effects, Animated Film, Foreign Language Film, and More

     February 26, 2014


And so we’re here at last, just days to go before the 86th Academy Awards, and it’s time to submit official predictions.  After months of covering this year’s Oscar race in Collider’s awards column Oscar Beat, I feel like I have a pretty solid hold on how some of the categories will play out, while others remain incredibly tough races that are proving rather difficult to predict with any degree of certainty.  Nevertheless, my official predictions for Sunday’s ceremony will be split into three separate articles, providing ample room to discuss the reasoning behind each pick as well as providing a possible upset candidate, my personal choice, and who should have landed a nomination but didn’t.

Our coverage begins today with some of the technical categories as well as the awards for Best Animated Feature, Best Documentary Feature, and Best Foreign Language Film.  Hit the jump to take a look, and come back tomorrow for the second installment.  The Oscars will air on Sunday, March 2nd on ABC.

Original Score

gravity sandra bullockThe Book Thief




Saving Mr. Banks

This is one of many categories in which Gravity is the frontrunner.  The score for Her is too subtle to pull out the win so it seems like a very rare possibility.  Yes, John Williams composed the score for The Book Thief but too few people actually saw that film, so it’s out as well.  One could make the argument that Thomas Newman is due for a win after 12 nominations, but is it really going to be for Saving Mr. Banks?  That leaves us with Steven Price’s pulsing score for Gravity and six-time nominee Alexandre Desplat’s quite haunting work on Philomena.  Desplat has a shot, but it’s impossible to ignore the fact that Price’s music is absolutely crucial to the overall effectiveness of Gravity.  Director Alfonso Cuaron opted to present the film’s sound effects as they would be heard in space (ie. nearly silent), making Price’s tension-inducing score all the more impressive,  which leads me to believe that Gravity will be taking home this trophy along with many, many others.

Will Win: Gravity

Dark Horse: Philomena

Should Win: Gravity

Should Have Been Nominated: Rush

Original Song

frozen-movie-image“Happy” – Despicable Me 2

“Let It Go” – Frozen

“The Moon Song” – Her

“Ordinary Love” – Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom

At first glance, this category is a no-brainer.  It’s gotta be Frozen right?  You would think so, but never underestimate the Academy’s fondness for mediocrity.  U2 has star-power and Oscar magician Harvey Weinstein running the campaign for Mandela, so it’s quite possible that the fine-but-forgettable “Ordinary Love” could pull out the win.  There’s also “Happy” to consider, as Pharrell’s catchy track has been a mainstay on the Billboard charts as of late and has been a regular on pop radio.  An upset almost seems likely here, but I’m going with my gut and saying Idina Menzel’s pipes will be too magnificent to resist, leading “Let It Go” to take the win and co-songwriter Robert Lopez to join the EGOT club.

Will Win: “Let It Go” – Frozen

Dark Horse: “Ordinary Love” – Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom

Should Win: “Let It Go” – Frozen

Should Have Been Nominated: “So You Know What It’s Like” – Short Term 12

Sound Mixing

inside-llewyn-davis-oscar-isaacCaptain Phillips


The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Inside Llewyn Davis

Lone Survivor

Contrary to what you may believe, there is a marked difference between Sound Mixing and Sound Editing.  Simply put, Sound Mixing recognizes the putting together of sounds that were recorded on set, while Sound Editing refers to the creation of sounds from scratch.  It’s unlikely that the majority of Academy members actually remember this, which is why the two categories often come away with the same winners.  If one were to take the time to consider the nominees in Sound Mixing, he or she might consider the difficulty of recording audio on the choppy waters in Captain Phillips or how all of the music in Inside Llewyn Davis was recorded live on set.  However, most voters are likely to give this category two-seconds thought, which will almost certainly result in a win for the nevertheless stellar work on Gravity.

Will Win: Gravity

Dark Horse: Captain Phillips

Should Win: Gravity

Should Have Been Nominated: Stoker 

Sound Editing

sandra-bullock-gravityAll Is Lost

Captain Phillips


The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Lone Survivor

Just as with Sound Mixing, the likely winner here is Gravity.  The others are no doubt worthy of consideration, especially All Is Lost and Lone Survivor, but a Gravity sweep of most of the technical categories feels almost inevitable.

Will Win: Gravity

Dark Horse: All Is Lost

Should Win: Gravity

Should Have Been Nominated: Rush 

Visual Effects


The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Iron Man 3

The Lone Ranger

Star Trek Into Darkness

And here we have Gravity vs. Films That Will Lose to Gravity.  I mean, most of the technology used to make Gravity possible was invented by the filmmakers.  Even those who don’t love the film are wowed by its technical achievement, making the Best Visual Effects Oscar an incredibly worthy trophy and its easiest win of the night.

Will Win: Gravity

Dark Horse: Ha, please.

Should Win: Gravity

Should Have Been Nominated: Man of Steel

Film Editing

captain-phillips-tom-hanksAmerican Hustle

Captain Phillips

Dallas Buyers Club


12 Years a Slave 

The Best Editing Oscar has a tendency to go to the film that also wins Best Picture, but there have been breaks with this tradition recently—most notably The Social Network and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, which both won over The King’s Speech and The Artist, respectively.  This year, though, it looks like Gravity might take the award whether it wins Best Picture or not.  Its greatest competition comes from Captain Phillips, which is another superbly edited thriller from Christopher Rouse, who won this award in 2008 for Paul GreengrassThe Bourne Ultimatum.  He actually stands a strong chance at pulling off a slight upset here, but again I feel like Gravity is going to steamroll these technical categories, so I think Cuaron’s film takes it.

Will Win: Gravity

Dark Horse: Captain Phillips

Should Win: Captain Phillips

Should Have Been Nominated: The Wolf of Wall Street 

Animated Feature

studio-ghibli-the-wind-risesThe Croods

Despicable Me 2

Ernest & Celestine


The Wind Rises 

Best Animated Feature is a pretty weak field this year and Frozen should be able to walk away with this one pretty easily.  Its only real competition comes in the form of The Wind Rises and, somewhat surprisingly, The Croods.  The former is Hayao Miyazaki’s final feature film and some may want to honor the director with one more trophy.  If he had never won an Oscar before I might be inclined to think the Academy could go for The Wind Rises as a career-encompassing prize, but Miyazaki won this award in 2002 for Spirited Away.  As for The Croods, it apparently has plenty of fans in the Academy to be a potential spoiler, but I still don’t see anything stopping the train that is Frozen, which has now grossed nearly $1 billion worldwide.

Will Win: Frozen

Dark Horse: The Wind Rises

Should Win: Frozen

Should Have Been Nominated: Monsters University

Documentary Feature

the-act-of-killing-make-upThe Act of Killing

20 Feet from Stardom

Cutie and the Boxer

Dirty Wars

The Square 

The Best Documentary Feature race is always tricky.  Due to the category’s complicated rules, plenty of acclaimed and favored films fail to land nominations, but this year’s lineup is actually pretty impressive.  There are three clear frontrunners, though:  The Act of Killing, 20 Feet from Stardom, and The Square.  The latter is an impressive and timely film about the recent protests in Egypt, but it doesn’t appear to have as many vocal or passionate advocates as the other two due to its late surge.  The Act of Killing is the most critically acclaimed of the bunch, as it won pretty much every single Best Documentary critics award that exists.  It’s a profoundly impactful film, but it’s also incredibly hard to watch and is quite unsettling.  20 Feet from Stardom, on the other hand, is an unendingly charming and wildly enjoyable look at the lives of backup singers that puts a giant smile on your face.  Given the Academy’s tendency to vote with its heart rather than its brain and this category’s frequent fondness for “entertaining” films over important or politically relevant features, I’m inclined to think 20 Feet from Stardom will pull out the win.

Will Win: 20 Feet from Stardom

Dark Horse: The Act of Killing

Should Win: The Act of Killing

Should Have Been Nominated: Stories We Tell

Foreign Language Film

the-great-beautyThe Broken Circle Breakdown

The Great Beauty

The Hunt

The Missing Picture


Best Foreign Language Film is actually one of the closest categories in this year’s race.  With Palme d’Or winner Blue Is the Warmest Color being deemed ineligible for this year’s race due to baffling Academy rules, this race opened up and never really settled on a clear frontrunner.  If I had to single out the most likely candidates, they would probably be The Great Beauty, The Hunt, and The Broken Circle Breakdown, and any one of the three could take the win.  I haven’t had a chance to see all of the nominees myself, but there seems to be a rough consensus surrounding The Great Beauty after its win (over Blue Is the Warmest Color, no less) at the BAFTAs.  Consequently, I’m going with Paolo Sorrentino’s Italian drama for the win.

Will Win: The Great Beauty

Dark Horse: The Broken Circle Breakdown

Should Have Been Nominated: Blue Is the Warmest Color 

Check back tomorrow when I offer my predictions for Cinematography, Production Design, those tricky Shorts categories, and more.


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