It seems like every year I end up saying something along the lines of, "the sound categories are especially tough this year". In truth, they're just hard every year. Which precursor do you believe in? Do you double down on one movie winning both (usually the case), or do you hedge your bets by predicting a split? Will it even be the right split?
I twist myself into a pretzel every year running over the permutations, so this year I'm gonna do myself a favour and just get Sound Mixing and Sound Editing over with quickly in one brief post. Like ripping off a band-aid.
If we must put our faith in any one indicator, I recommend the BAFTA award for Best Sound. For eight consecutive years, they've anticipated the Oscar winner for Best Sound Mixing, even when it seemed an atypical selection (Hugo, Whiplash). That bodes well for Randy Thom and his fellow mixers and sound editors on
The Revenant. The movie's got 99 problems, but sound design ain't one. While it wouldn't be my #1 preference, it would still be a highly respectable winner.
As to who the chief challenger is? Anyone's guess.
There's the dense, revved-up soundscape for Mad Max: Fury Road. There's the space-aged action/adventure of Star Wars: The Force Awakens and The Martian. It occurs to me that these may cancel each other out, splitting the action movie vote three ways.
And there are one-off nominees; The subtle atmosphere-building of Bridge of Spies (up for mixing) and the terrifying aural elements of Sicario (up for sound editing). We can assume these are bringing up the rear.
The Revenant seems a decent enough bet, but I'd welcome an "upset".
Will win: The Revenant
Runner-up: Mad Max: Fury Road
Should win: Mad Max: Fury Road
Should be nominated (mixing): Love & Mercy
Should be nominated (editing): Everest