My big prediction for this year's Oscars is that the awards will be distributed categorically - that all the artistic awards will go in one direction and all the technical awards will go in another.
Let's start with Best Editing. Surprisingly, this year's nominees focus mostly on storytelling rather than flash. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Into The Wild, There Will Be Blood, and No Country For Old Men are all pretty standard when it comes to editing. I think it would be interesting for No Country's Roderick Jaynes to win here because he doesn't really exist - he is the pseudonym for directors Joel and Ethan Cohen, who edit their own films. The real standout, though, is The Bourne Ultimatum, a film whose elaborate and jittery editing really contributes to the style, intensity, and suspense of the movie while complimenting the performances, cinematography, and script.
Sound Editing and Sound Mixing are very different things, but often go hand in hand. This year, the nominees are almost identical in both categories. Traditionally, musicals and animated films are praised for their sound. No musicals are nominated this year, but Ratatouille could be a contender. Movies like No Country, There Will Be Blood, and 3:10 To Yuma are nominated for their effective on-location sound rather than their custom sound effects. More likely to win are the big noisy blockbusters like Transformers, however I think the winner in both categories will once again be The Bourne Ultimatum. It really offers the best of both worlds. It's a successful action movie, it was critically praised, and is also a prestige picture - a thinking man's action flick, much like The Matrix, which swept the technical awards back in '99. Count on two more for Bourne.
Three movies are nominated for Visual Effects, which I find very upsetting. I'm only a little surprised that 300 didn't get nominated for costumes and cinematography, but if ever there was a category for a 90% CGI comic-book-based Bronze-Age war movie, it would be Visual Effects. The films the voters did choose are The Golden Compass, Pirates 3, and Transformers. I think The Golden Compass might still be too controversial to win so I'm counting it out. The CGI robots of Transformers would have been a lot more impressive if the cinematography weren't so veritee. I had a hard time focusing on them with all that camera-shaking. Pirates 3 was impressive, but I think voters may have Pirate fatigue - a "been there, done that" attitude about the whole film. Even still, the maelstrom scene was groundbreaking and required new technology to be invented and the seamless blending of makeup and effects is noteworthy. I'll give my pick to Pirates by a small margin.