Best Makeup and Hairstyling
Mad Max: Fury Road
Other Contenders - Mr. Holmes, Concussion, Legend, The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared
Commentary - With some big potentials missing, this category feels strange and could produce, like it has done a lot in its history, a really strange lineup. Mad Max and The Revenant both have a lot of makeup work, which helped produced both films ruggedness. Plus, both are probably going to be nominated for Best Picture. But that last slot feels tricky. I am sticking with Black Mass, despite the fact that its buzz is dead, and that Johnny Depp might not even make the Best Actor race. But the makeup branch loves biopics, and they love when makeup work helps transform an actor to look like their muse (The Iron Lady and La Vie En Rose for example). So while Mr. Holmes and Concussion should not be ruled out, I think Black Mass takes that third slot.
Best Original Score
Thomas Newman "Bridge of Spies"
Alexandre Desplat "The Danish Girl"
Ennio Morricone "The Hateful Eight"
Johann Johannsson "Sicario"
John Williams "Star Wars: The Force Awakens"
Other Contenders - Carter Burwell "Carol", Howard Shore "Spotlight", Junkie XL "Mad Max: Fury Road", Michael Giacchino "Inside Out", Ryuichi Sakamoto and Carsten Nicolai “The Revenant”, Harry Gregson-Williams "The Martian", Michael Brook "Brooklyn", Daniel Pemberton "Steve Jobs"
Commentary - John Williams, Thomas Newman, and Ennio Morricone feel like locks here, and while Newman is going up against legend, there may finally be room here for him to win his first Oscar. The last two slots I am cautiously giving to last year's winner Alexandre Desplat, who seems to be routinely nominated, and last year's Globe winner, and nominee Johann Johannsson, who was always a possibility but could now benefit from the guild rise of Sicario. But that leaves Carter Burwell, with two possibilities this year, Oscar favorite Howard Shore, Oscar winner Michael Giacchino, and the BAFTA nominated duo from The Revenant on the outside looking in. That is why those last two slots seem fluid, because any of those other folks could surprise.
Best Original Song
DJ Frank E, Charlie Puth, Cameron Tomaz, and Andrew Cedar "See You Again" from "Furious 7"
David Lang "Simple Song #3" from "Youth"
Leon Bridges "So Long" from "Concussion"
Lady Gaga and Dianne Warren "Til It Happens to You" from "The Hunting Ground"
Sam Smith and Jimmy Napes "Writing on the Wall" from "Spectre"
Other Contenders - "Earned It" from Fifty Shades of Grey, "Love Me Like You Do" from Fifty Shades of Grey, "Flashlight" from Pitch Perfect 2, "Feels Like Summer" from Shaun the Sheep Movie, "I'll See You In My Dreams" From "I'll See You in My Dreams", "Mean 'Ol Moon" from Ted 2, "Hypnosis" from Kahlil Gibran's The Prophet, "Dancing in the Dark" from Home", "Story to Tell" from He Named me Malala, "Don't Look Down" From Danny Collins, "Cold One" From Ricki and the Flash, "Phenomenal" from Southpaw, "Fighting Stronger" from Creed
Commentary - This category is a crap shoot in terms of predicting, and honestly, without the Brian Wilson song here, it feels like an incomplete category at best, and unfortunately has for years now. Furious 7 isn't going to probably show up anywhere else, and See You Again just got some big Grammy nominations, along with an aggressive campaign. Simple Song #3 might be Youth's only nomination (There is a theme here), and the Globe nod helps. This film is being mostly ignored across the board, but I think the music branch will like this song, if for nothing else, that it moves the plot (something that has become a hindering requirement as of late). Leon Bridges and Sam Smith are bright new stars with big, promoted songs from movies that might, once again, only have this one nomination (like I said there is a theme here). Finally, I think our winner will be Til it Happens to you, by the dynamic duo of Dianne Warren and Lady Gaga. The song feels important, has star power, and will look much more Oscar worthy up against a lot of these nominees. After that I honestly don't know. The two songs from Fifty Shades of Grey have gotten a lot of attention, I just don't know if Oscar voters are willing to bite the bullet and go for it. Feels Like Summer, Cold One, and a litany of other songs are all possibilities. This category is usually so unpredictable, that even trying to predict the wild cards is impossible. These seem like five safe bets, and we'll just have to wait and see...