Best Production Design
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
Into the Woods
Other Contenders - Mr. Turner, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, Inherent Vice, Unbroken, Nightcrawler, Gone Girl, Interstellar, Guardians of the Galaxy, Exodus: Gods and Kings, Maleficent, Noah
Commentary - The Grand Budapest Hotel is a shoo-in, and despite a strange BAFTA snub, I think Into the Woods is as well. Big Eyes managed to get in at BAFTA, and I am reminded that this branch loves, I mean absolutely loves, Tim Burton films. This one is not a lock like his films usually are due to it being his most subtle film in a while, but nonetheless, I think it gets in. The Imitation Game is a period piece, and one of the few that will probably get in, and Birdman's entire production design fits in with its technical ingenuity. Mr. Turner and Interstellar missed at the ADG, but were nominated for the BAFTA. They are the two spoilers to upset the apple cart here.
Best Original Score
Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross "Gone Girl"
Alexandre Desplat "The Grand Budapest Hotel"
Alexandre Desplat "The Imitation Game"
Thomas Newman "The Judge"
Johann Johannsson "The Theory of Everything"
Other Contenders - Hans Zimmer "Interstellar", Alexandre Desplat "Unbroken", Mica Levi "Under the Skin", Danny Elfman "Big Eyes", Steven Price "Fury", John Powell "How to Train Your Dragon 2", James Newton Howard "Nightcrawler", Marco Beltrami "The Homesman"
Commentary - The music branch goes its own way a lot, which is why Thomas Newman will probably get nominated again, even though The Judge is not really a player. These musicians love Thomas Newman, its the Academy as a whole that has yet let him get 12 nominations without a win. The Theory of Everything has a classically beautiful score that plays well here. And because the rules are different with this branch, it looks like Alexandre Desplat is going to get potentially two nominations, hell maybe a third if Unbroken makes a comeback. Hans Zimmer seems like the best choice for the fifth slot, but he was ignored here last year for 12 Years a Slave, and it won Best Picture. Mica Levi got a BAFTA nod, and would be a great surprise. Last year's winner Steven Price, Danny Elfman, and John Powell are also potentials. But I think that voters will once again think out of the box, as they did a few years ago with a nod for Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross for Gone Girl. I don't think they will win this time, but I think they will earn a second nomination.
Best Original Song
Lost Stars from Begin Again
I'm Not Gonna Miss You from Glen Campbell: I'll Be Me
Everything is Awesome from The LEGO Movie
Glory from Selma
Miracles from Unbroken
Other Contenders - Ryan's Song from Boyhood, Big Eyes from Big Eyes, Yellow Flicker Beat from The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1, What is Love from Rio 2, Opportunity from Annie, The Boxtrolls Song from The Boxtrolls, American for Me from A Most Violent Year, We're Doing a Sequel from Muppets Most Wanted, Mercy Is from Noah, Shine from Paddington
Commentary - After last year's Alone Yet Not Alone scandal, I'm sure this branch is hoping for an easy year. Like most years, none of us really know what were doing here. Although I will say that there are three top contenders emerging. Tegan and Sara's Everything is Awesome, John Legend and Common's Glory, and Lost Stars from Begin Again, which is my personal favorite of the bunch. There are no locks here, but all of these seem pretty strong. The last two slots are tricky. Ryan's Song is from the Best Picture frontrunner, Yellow Flicker Beat and Big Eyes are from pop superstars Lorde and Lana Del Rey, Opportunity got a Globe nod, and no matter how bad Annie is, musicals do well here.But I think that Coldplay's Miracles will play well with this branch, and while Glen Campbell: I'll Be Me is not a contender anywhere else, it is a song written for a film about a musical legend. My guess is that musicians will eat that up.