I’ll round out the category with Tim Squyres (“Life of Pi”), who seems to have everything going for him as well – Best Picture contender, cutting incredibly important to the considerable success of the film. But he has been a notable omission before (“Gosford Park,” “Sense & Sensibility”) as have Lee’s films (“Brokeback Mountain,” “Sense & Sensibility”), so I wouldn’t bet the farm on him.

An action-oriented Tarantino film such as “Django Unchained” (Fred Raskin) is difficult to pass up on. Though the still uncertain status of Tarantino’s film overall with AMPAS, and Raskin’s newcomer status, may prove an obstacle. Jay Cassidy and Crispin Struthers did an outstanding job setting the crisp pace of “Silver Linings Playbook,” though this category hasn’t been terribly kind to comedies over the past decade.

So if there is a surprise, I can’t bring myself to rule out Stuart Baird for “Skyfall.” I’m predicting at least four nominations for this film (Song, Cinematography, Sound Editing and Sound Mixing). But it fits the mold of a prestigious action film that finds a home here, especially with a veteran such as Baird on board.

Final Predictions:
"Argo"
"Les Misérables"
"Life of Pi"
"Lincoln"
"Zero Dark Thirty"
(alt. "Skyfall")

BEST SOUND EDITING (Tech Support Analysis)

Major summer blockbusters like “The Dark Knight Rises” and “The Avengers” are the types of films that usually end up as nominees in this category. I don’t entirely expect both of them to cross the finish line but I can’t decide which one is likelier. I’ve predicted both all year so I’m not going to stop now, even if the lack of precursor citations gives me serious pause.

I also suspect that “Django Unchained” and especially “Skyfall” will tickle the fancy of the sound branch, resulting in nominations in both sound categories. In fact, “Skyfall” is the only nominee in this category in which I have reasonable confidence, being a prestigious blockbuster with many artificially created noises, and having consistently hit the sound precursors.

Philip Stockton’s creation of a plethora of animal sounds on “Life of Pi” could result in a second consecutive nomination. He already has a BAFTA nod. But he only earned his first nomination last year (which he won, for “Hugo”) despite a LONG career, so maybe this branch just isn’t that into him?

Instead, I’d look to Paul N.J. Ottosson’s superb sound effects on “Zero Dark Thirty.” This mixer/editor even received a main “sound designed by” title card in the film’s credits. Now with a CAS nomination also to his credit, I’d actually rank him second in the category behind “Skyfall,” even with the BAFTA snub.

“The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” has all the makings of a typical nominee in this category. Though only one “Lord of the Rings” movie scored here and, well, something’s gotta give.

“Les Misérables” has war sounds in addition to music so it ought not to be ruled out either. While I’m not convinced “Brave” is respected enough to return Pixar to glory in this category, it is still a huge step-up from “Cars 2,” so I might be wrong about that. I also wouldn’t rule out “Looper” getting a solo nomination for a highly respected film that doesn’t score anywhere else. Think “Drive.” Finally, if “Lincoln” somehow shows up here, it may be tying the record of “All About Eve” and “Titanic” at 14 nominations.

Final Predictions:
"The Avengers"
"The Dark Knight Rises"
"Django Unchained"
"Skyfall"
"Zero Dark Thirty"
(alt. "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey")

BEST SOUND MIXING (Tech Support Analysis)

Here is another stacked category. A big musical like “Les Misérables” seems destined for a nomination, as does a hugely successful action film with the prestige and crew of “Skyfall.” Of those two I’m quite confident, despite the Bond movies’ surprisingly abysmal track record in this category. (“Diamonds are Forever” is the only nominee.)

Paul N.J. Ottosson’s work on “Zero Dark Thirty” is not always noticeable but when it is, it is effective. I encourage everyone to try closing their eyes while watching the raid – as brilliant as the photography is, the sound builds the tension impeccably. After the CAS nod, I feel I have to predict him, BAFTA snub aside.

Westerns usually do well in this category, so a big violent one like “Django Unchained” strikes me as a solid bet. It missed with the guild but that’s not the be all and end all, especially with a BAFTA nomination.

I’ll round out the category with “Lincoln” – as I said before, this crew is incredibly respected. Now they have a CAS nomination to their credit, and the film is likely heading to a dozen other nominations. As I predict a baker’s dozen, this is the weakest link. But I’m still betting this nod pushes the film to setting the record for nominations for a Spielberg movie. It actually struck me as more of a typical AMPAS than CAS nominee so I find that guild citation hard to ignore.

Given the success of all three “Lord of the Rings” movies, as well as its CAS and BAFTA nods, it may seem foolish to omit “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.” But it also is the first title in this saga not to be getting a Best Picture nomination, and there are other far more respected action movies in contention, such as “The Dark Knight Rises” and “The Avengers,” both with very respected crews on board. A summer blockbuster is always nominated. But which one? I’m splitting the difference and predicting neither, guessing they may cancel each other out, especially with “Prometheus” floating around, to say nothing of the dearth of precursor citations.

The other Best Picture nominee that is a major possibility is BAFTA nominee “Life of Pi.” But I feel it is simply behind the other contenders mentioned above, as well as the respected action films.

Finally, the title my “gut” tells me might sneak in here? “Flight,” with its sound crew anchored by the legendary Randy Thom and featured sound work during its plane crash that was nothing short of extraordinary. It may be only one scene, but I can remember another Robert Zemeckis movie (his movies do very well here) featuring a prominent plane crash that landed nominations only for Best Actor and Best Sound (as the category was then known): “Cast Away.” Just sayin’…

Final Predictions:
"Django Unchained"
"Les Misérables"
"Lincoln"
"Skyfall"
"Zero Dark Thirty"
(alt. "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey")

And there you have it. Tune is tomorrow to find out the nominees and my reactions to them! And check out my predictions in ALL of Oscar's categories here.

What are YOUR predictions throughout the crafts categories? Have your say in the comments section below!

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