So here we go. After several months of previewing the contenders, it’s time to predict the nominees for the 85th Annual Academy Awards in the crafts categories.

Today, I'll analyze Best Makeup and Hairstyling, Best Original Score, Best Original Song, Best Production Design and Best Visual Effects. Tomorrow, I'll turn to Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, Best Film Editing, Best Sound Editing and Best Sound Mixing.

Let's dig in...


Soon-to-be Best Picture nominees “Les Misérables” and especially “Lincoln” had to meticulously recreate the 19th Century in painstaking detail. I expect them to be in the final three, especially given the aging in “Les Mis” and the transformative work in “Lincoln.”

The plentiful makeup in “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” would seem most likely to complete the trio, especially considering both “Lord of the Rings” movies to make the bake-off lists made the final cut. Creating dwarves, elves and hobbits, to say nothing of battle wounds, required considerable work. But there is a lot more CGI this time around, and this category normally has a notable omission.

Given the potential for surprises, none of the finalists making it would floor me, from “Hitchock”’s recreation of Old Hollywood to “Looper”’s transformation of one actor to another and “Snow White and the Huntsman”’s beauty makeup and battle wounds.

Most likely, however, the giddily outlandish work of Rick Baker on “Men in Black 3” will find a home. That's what I expect, anyway, so God dammit, I’ll predict it!

Final Predictions:
“Les Misérables”
“Men in Black 3”
(alt. “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”)

BEST MUSIC - ORIGINAL SCORE (Tech Support Analysis)

A few weeks ago, I said I felt John Williams (“Lincoln”) was locked in this category with Alexandre Desplat (“Argo”), Mychael Danna (“Life of Pi”) and Dario Marianelli (“Anna Karenina”) looking good. I still feel that way. Williams is Williams, scoring the likely nominations leader. Enough said. While Desplat could suffer from drawing split attention, Danna could encounter some newbie shyness and Marianelli must battle the divisive nature of his film, I feel the three of them will each score a nomination due to some combination of support for their films. Each have noticeable scores with exotic elements, precursor attention and respect for the composers.

I’m guessing Desplat gets pulled along with “Zero Dark Thirty” to become a double-nominee for his subtle but suspense-building work on Kathryn Bigelow’s feature. Remember “The Hurt Locker”’s somewhat surprising nomination here. I also feel a double nomination for Desplat is inevitable one of these years, so why not this one?

I’ll admit, however, that this prediction is somewhat of a cop-out given that I can’t decide which of the integral scores by yet-to-be-nominated composers such as Jonny Greenwood (“The Master”), Reinhold Heil & Johnny Klinek (“Cloud Atlas”) or Benh Zeitlin & Dan Romer (“Beasts of the Southern Wild”) has the best chance. The precursors have sent very mixed messages on these films, and it’s difficult for newcomers to break into this category.

I should add that given Thomas Newman’s history in pulling some surprising nominations, I wouldn’t dismiss “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.”

Final Predictions:
“Anna Karenina”
“Life of Pi”
“Zero Dark Thirty”
(alt. “The Master”)

BEST MUSIC - ORIGINAL SONG (Tech Support Analysis)

Always the most difficult category to predict, perhaps Best Original Song will be less so this year given the recent rule changes? Hard to say.

Adele’s haunting “Skyfall” should (not that that always matters) become the first Bond title since “For Your Eyes Only” to find a home here – both the film and tune are more AMPAS-friendly than the ditties that have been snubbed in the meantime. The narrative-friendly placement of “Suddenly” in “Les Misérables” results in it sitting pretty as well, especially as it is a way to acknowledge these giants of composing. And Pixar films have a good track record here, so I’d give the edge to “Learn Me Right” over “Touch the Sky” from “Brave” (though I wouldn’t rule out the latter).

After those three, I find the category becomes tricky, though the idea of giving Ennio Morricone & Elisa a nomination for “Ancora Qui” from “Django Unchained” strikes me as irresistible and I’m guessing AMPAS will feel the same way. But Morricone is not the only vet the branch has the opportunity to cite, as Paul Williams contributed “Still Alive” to the documentary “Paul Williams Still Alive.” It would seem a good way to round out the final five (assuming there is a final five), but Williams has had an even longer time away from a nomination than Morricone. And did the film resonate with anyone?

The chance to go for a reliable old star such as Dolly Parton (“From Here to the Moon and Back” from “Joyful Noise”) or a reliable modern star such as Keith Urban (“For You” from “Act of Valor”) could be AMPAS’s cup of tea. Most likely, however, is the prominent “Pi’s Lullaby” from “Life of Pi.” I do have reservations about its failure to garner precursor citations despite prominent placement in a very prominent film. Of course, I realize the same could be said about “Ancora Qui,” but “Pi’s Lullaby” doesn’t have Morricone on board.