We'll make our full predictions for Original Song below, but what of Original Score? It is, it should be said, not a banner year for the category, with only a handful of serious possibilities. Top of the tree is Steven Price's work on "Gravity"—the relative newcomer (who'd previously worked on "Attack the Block" and "The World's End") does stellar work (excuse the pun) on his score, which has to carry a lot of the drama due to the lack of sound in space, and while it over-eggs it a bit towards the end, it's certainly one of the year's most memorable. Given how crucial it is to the film as a whole, it's probably the front-runner.
Its most serious competition could be Thomas Newman's work on "Saving Mr. Banks," especially given that the composer has eleven nominations, and no wins. So, while the score this year isn't his finest, it's decent enough to figure in, given that he's probably due, but we have some eligibility questions—the compositions uses elements of songs from "Mary Poppins," and the use of pre-existing work has ruled out strong work many times in the past (Jonny Greenwood's "There Will Be Blood," to name but one). The eligibility is likely to be on something of a knife edge, so we'll see in a few weeks if it makes the cut: if it does, it'll likely be a nominee.
Meanwhile, the ever-prolific Hans Zimmer, who hasn't won since "The Lion King" in 1994, has four films in contention this year, with "Man Of Steel," "The Lone Ranger," "Rush" and "12 Years A Slave." The former two won't figure in (though 'Ranger' was actually his best work this year), but either or both of the other two might. We found "Rush" a bit bombastic, musically, while "12 Years A Slave" suffers rather from similarities to Zimmer's earlier work, particularly "The Thin Red Line," but with the latter film still having plenty of momentum, it's probably the better bet.
Meanwhile, two old favorites have contenders in play: Randy Newman, a 20-time-nominee and 2-time winner, did good work on "Monsters University," while John Williams—second only to Walt Disney as the most nominated figure in Academy history, with 48 nods and 5 wins—will likely make it 49 with his work on "The Book Thief," a now-rare example of the composer working for someone other than Steven Spielberg.
Assuming that Newman is disqualified, there'd still be one slot open, but only a handful of real contenders. Christophe Beck's "Frozen" score might figure in, but as we said at the top, the film's really about the songs. More likely are one of the trio of Mark Orton's work for "Nebraska," which we found insufferable but, like the film, has a lot of love from voters, Henry Jackman's thrilling "Captain Phillips" score, and Alexandre Desplat's "Philomena," which is far from his best work, but could still be a potential. Stronger, but smaller scale compositions from Johan Johansson on "Prisoners," Daniel Hart on "Ain't Them Bodies Saints," Ilan Eshkeri on "The Invisible Woman," and David Wingo on "Mud" are all deserving, but will probably be left out in the cold.
Official predictions below, and the Best Picture chart will return next week, when "The Wolf Of Wall Street" will have been screened, adding to last night's SAG showing of "American Hustle" and completing this year's field.
Best Original Song Predictions -- Monday November 25th
"Desperation" - Judith Hill - "20 Feet From Stardom"
"He Loves Me Still" - Angela Bassett & Jennifer Hudson - "Black Nativity"
"Let It Go" - Idina Menzel - "Frozen"
"The Moon Song" - Karen O - "Her"
"In The Middle Of The Night" - Fantasia - "Lee Daniels' The Butler"
Best Original Score Predictions - Monday November 25th
Hans Zimmer - "12 Years A Slave"
John Williams - "The Book Thief"
Steven Price - "Gravity"
Randy Newman - "Monsters University"
Mark Orton - "Nebraska"