Obviously, it's impossible to judge a film's soundtrack before it's released, or even recorded which may be the case with many of this year's upcoming prospects. Thankfully for us obsessive prognosticators, the music branch has some old habits that can lay the foundation for early guesswork. For starters, they are notoriously insular, usually only choosing one or two first-time nominees per year in the Best Original Score category.
With Desplat's name crossed off the list of people waiting patiently for their Oscars, the music branch might focus their efforts on Thomas Newman. The ten-time nominee has four high-profile scores coming out this year, including Pixar's The Good Dinosaur, Sam Mendes' Spectre, and -- in an unusual departure from John Williams -- Steven Spielberg's Bridge of Spies. Which ones will be nominated, if any, are anyone's guess.
After winning his Oscar for Up, Michael Giacchino's talents have been somewhat wasted on sub-par Pixar sequels Cars 2
and Monsters U. Inside Out will hopefully give him an
opportunity to stretch his musical imagination once more and crank
out some fresh themes. He also has Tomorrowland and Jurassic World in play.
Another past winner with lots of options for the music branch is Dario Marianelli. He's been nominated thrice for the works of Joe Wright, all of them with sweeping European flavor. Maybe Pan or Baltasar Kormakur's Everest will give him the chance to play with some more adventurous motifs.
And I suppose I should leave room for a newbie nominee. Let's go with... Roque Banos for In the Heart of the Sea... I guess? It looks like it should be a rip-roaring high seas epic, and if the music fits that bill, it's as decent a prediction as any at this point.
Trying to anticipate Best Original Song is pure folly this far in advance, but I'll guess five titles anyway: The Good Dinosaur, Inside Out, Ricki and the Flash, Spectre, Mockingjay: Part 2.