Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Oscar Predictions: Best Original Score

This year, Oscar nominations will be announced on Tuesday, January 22nd. I’ll be offering detailed predictions in most of the major categories.

Last year’s nominees: Dunkirk, Phantom Thread, The Shape of Water, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

My choices: Coming in February!

This year’s locks: First Man, Isle of Dogs

Very likely: Black Panther

Possible: Mary Poppins Returns, BlacKkKlansman, A Quiet Place, The Death of Stalin, If Beale Street Could Talk, Vice, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

Unlikely: Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, Ready Player One, Annihilation, Avengers: Infinity War, Crazy Rich Asians

The rundown: For the first time in decades, the contenders in this category have been winnowed down to just fifteen finalists as of December 17th. I’ve been listening to these scores nonstop for the past few weeks, and what I’ve done below is to include one highlighted track from each prospective nominee along with my commentary, ranked in the order I think they’ll be nominated. A few overall thoughts: though all five Globe nominees are eligible, the last time that the entire Globe slated ended up with Oscar nominations was way back in 1962, when there were two separate Oscar categories anyway. A composer being nominated twice in the same category isn’t uncommon at all – John Williams has actually accomplished the feat ten times himself!

First Man is composed by Justin Hurwitz, who won this award two years ago for “La La Land” in addition to a trophy for Best Original Song for that same film, also directed by Damien Chazelle. He has already taken home prizes this year from the Golden Globes, Critics’ Choice Awards, and a number of critics’ groups.

Isle of Dogs is composed by Alexandre Desplat, who won this award last year for “The Shape of Water” and in 2014 for “The Grand Budapest Hotel.” He has seven additional previous nominations. This is his third bid for a collaboration with director Wes Anderson. He has been cited with nominations this year from the Globes, Critics’ Choice Awards, and BAFTA.

Black Panther is composed by Ludwig Göransson, who earned a Globe bid this year and would earn his first Oscar nomination for the immensely popular film that itself is slated to become the first comic book Best Picture nominee.

Mary Poppins Returns is composed by Marc Shaiman, who has five previous Oscar nominations, though all of them are either in the Best Original Song or now-defunct Best Original Musical or Comedy Score categories. He was nominated for this score by the Globes, Critics’ Choice Awards, and BAFTA.

BlacKkKlansman is composed by Terrence Blanchard, a previous Globe nominee for Spike Lee’s “25th Hour.” He has been collaborating with Lee for nearly thirty years. He is nominated for a BAFTA for this score.

A Quiet Place is composed by Marco Beltrami, who was previously nominated for his scores of “The Hurt Locker” and “3:10 to Yuma.” He was recognized by the Globes for this score, which dominates his mostly dialogue-free movie.

The Death of Stalin is composed by Christopher Willis, an Emmy nominee in 2017 for music and lyrics from “Mickey Mouse.” He won a prize from the International Film Music Critics for this score.

If Beale Street Could Talk and Vice are both composed by Nicholas Britell, a nominee in this category two years ago for “Moonlight,” also directed by Barry Jenkins. His more serious score for “If Beale Street Could Talk” has earned numerous mentions from critics’ groups, including the Critics’ Choice Awards, while his operatic comedy score for “Vice” has not been cited at all, though its surprise placement here suggests it may be a stronger contender than expected.

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs is composed by Carter Burwell, who was nominated last year for “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” and in 2015 for “Carol.” He has been collaborating with the Coen Brothers since their feature film debut in 1984.

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is composed by James Newton Howard, who has eight previous Oscar nominations, six of which were for score and the last of which was ten years ago for “Defiance.” Though two Harry Potter movies were nominated in this category, those scores were composed by John Williams.

Ready Player One and Avengers: Infinity War were both composed by Alan Silvestri, who was nominated for his song from “The Polar Express” and his score from “Forrest Gump.”

Annihilation was composed by Geoff Barrow and Ben Salisbury, both of whom would be first-time nominees for this film that was left off the original twenty-wide list of visual effects finalists and was considered a very surprise inclusion on this finalist list.

Crazy Rich Asians was composed by Brian Tyler, a two-time Emmy nominee for “Sleepy Hollow” and “Last Call.”

Forecasted winner: I think that First Man takes this.

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