Pacific Rim

Best Visual Effects


"The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug"

"Iron Man 3"


"Pacific Rim"

"Gravity" is the obvious front-runner for the win, and the other nominees can quite happily get stinking drunk in the limo on the way without fearing that they'll be called on stage. Of the ten-strong shortlist (which snubbed "Man of Steel" to the surprise of many), "Thor: The Dark World" is probably the least likely, along with "Elysium." "Star Trek Into Darkness," is more feasible, given that its predecessor was a nominee, but I think it'll miss out this time, too. Alongside "Gravity," "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug" is likely a lock (all the Middle Earth films to date have been nominated), while "Iron Man 3" should follow its predecessors in. For the final two slots, I'm putting my money on "Oblivion" and "Pacific Rim," which might not be the most realistic, but they're more characterful, and I think that's something the branch will award.

Dark Horse: We hear "World War Z," perplexingly, went down well in early voting, so don't rule that out completely. And we have a funny feeling that "The Lone Ranger" could make it in, if only for the train sequences.

Bachchan Great Gatsby Header

Best Production Design

"12 Years a Slave"


"The Great Gatsby"

"The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug"

"The Invisible Woman"

Quietly one of the toughest categories to call this year, with a wealth of possibilities, and only a handful of slots. The safest lock is probably "The Great Gatsby"—Baz Luhrmann's film might not be the awards juggernaut it was hoped to be, but Catherine Martin's design work is always a safe bet here. We thought that "Gravity" taking place in open space might hurt it, but a BAFTA nomination suggests that won't be the case, while its Best Picture competition "12 Years a Slave" should tick the right boxes as a period film. I'm not quite sure the same is true for "American Hustle"—the '70s look is meticulous, but so much of the film takes place in unshowy offices and hotel rooms (the same could also be said of "Saving Mr. Banks," though that might be a better bet). So instead, I'll roll the dice on 'The Hobbit,' given that its predecessor, and all "The Lord of the Rings" films, made the cut, and on "The Invisible Woman." British period fare like "The Duchess," "The Young Victoria" and "The King's Speech" has a tendency to over-perform in this category, even if the film goes unloved elsewhere.

Dark Horse: I wonder if the work in "Her" is too subtle for recognition, and shooting in Shanghai did do some of the heavy lifting, but it's more than worthy, and it's not unfeasible that it shows up on Thursday morning in this category.

Felicity Jones, The Invisible Woman

Best Costume Design

"12 Years a Slave"

"American Hustle"

"The Great Gatsby"

"The Hunger Games: Catching Fire"

"The Invisible Woman"

A little less wide-open than Production Design, this category essentially has four locked nominees, all period pictures to varying degrees: "12 Years a Slave," "The Great Gatsby," "The Invisible Woman" and "American Hustle." If any of them miss out, it'd be something of a surprise (though 'Hustle' might be the wobbliest). Beyond that, it's tougher to say what could make the fifth slot, but either "Saving Mr. Banks" or "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" feel like the likeliest. I'd go for the latter, if only because it's a little more interesting.

Dark Horse: Don't rule out "Oz The Great & Powerful," which had some garish, but attention-grabbing outfits that might figure in (don't forget that "Alice In Wonderland" was a winner a few years back).

Short Term 12

Best Original Song

"Let It Go" - Idina Menzel - "Frozen"

"The Moon Song" - Karen O - "Her"

"in The Middle Of The Night" - Fantasia - "Lee Daniels' The Butler"

"Ordinary Love" - U2 - "Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom"

"So You Know What It's Like" - Keith Stanfield - "Short Term 12"

This category has been in flux the last few years after the disaster of a couple of years ago, when there were only two nominees, and now five nominees are guaranteed, which opens the field up somewhat. Rule changes also mean that closing credits numbers might have a better chance than they did before, which I think will favor U2's "Ordinary Love" from "Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom" over the Ed Sheeran track from 'The Hobbit.' Meanwhile, there's a couple of options from "Lee Daniels' The Butler," of which I think Fantasia has the best chance. Beyond that things get more interesting, with the rap from "Short Term 12" building critical swell (though don't be surprised if it misses), and the Karen O-penned "Moon Song" from "Her" also viable. But really, any of these (and other potential contenders like Lana Del Ray's "Young & Beautiful" from "The Great Gatsby" and "My Lord Sunshine" from "12 Years a Slave") are likely to be overshadowed by "Frozen" track "Let It Go," which is something close to a surefire winner.

Dark Horse: "Doby" from "Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues" is probably too silly (though don't forget that "Blame Canada" was a nominee), but do keep an eye on songs from "Black Nativity." Aside from "Frozen," it's the only true musical on the longlist. "He Loves Me Still" might be the most obvious one.

All Is Lost

Best Original Score

Hans Zimmer - "12 Years a Slave"

Alex Ebert - "All Is Lost"

John Williams - "The Book Thief"

Steven Price - "Gravity"

Thomas Newman - "Saving Mr. Banks"

Not the strongest year for this category in recent memory, but that at least means that it's trickier to guess. "Gravity" and "12 Years a Slave" are essentially locked in, while John Williams could collaborate with Ke$ha on a score and still get nominated, so "The Book Thief" could pick up a nod here too. Beyond that, precursor love for Randy Newman's "Monsters University" score never materialized, and "Nebraska" was disqualified, which is good news for Alex Ebert's "All Is Lost" score—its Golden Globes victory suggests it's made at least something of an impression on the season. Beyond that, it comes down to two rather bland scores by composers who've done far better and work, and I'd wager that Thomas Newman's "Saving Mr. Banks" will ultimately beat out Alexandre Desplat's "Philomena" for the fifth slot.

Dark Horse: Henry Jackman's "Captain Phillips" could also figure in, potentially over Ebert or Newman.

The Broken Circle Breakdown header

Best Foreign Language Film

"The Broken Circle Breakdown" - Belgium

"The Great Beauty - Italy

"The Hunt" - Denmark

"The Missing Picture" - Cambodia

"Omar" - Palestine

As ever, the foreign language branch threw some curve balls, with nine-strong longlist that didn't include many of the presumptive favorites, including "The Past," "Wadjda" and "Gloria." Don't exclude the possibility of more to come (though we can probably assume that Danis Tanovic's "An Episode In The Life Of An Iron Picker" won't be in the final five), but this feels more guessable than usual: Playlist favorite "The Broken Circle Breakdown" is a likely nominee, as are "The Hunt" and "The Great Beauty." Middle Eastern fare often ends up with a nomination, so "Omar" (from the director of "Paradise Now," which was nominated a few years back) will probably figure in too. Beyond that, it's less predictable, but the fascinating Cambodian documentary "The Missing Picture" is what I'd put my money on.

Dark Horse: Wong Kar-wai's never been nominated in this category (or, indeed, at all), but "The Grandmaster" could be the one, and potentially sneak in over "The Missing Picture."