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Oscar History

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Listening to the Best Score Nominees

18 days til Oscar so today is a perfect day to look at and listen to the composers nominated for Best Original Score. They have 18 nominations between them and on their Oscar chart, you can vote on who you think should win. Let's check out the nominees!

Terence Blanchard  for BlacKkKlansman  (56 years old | 33 features | 1st nomination!)
This New Orleans native is world-famous jazz musician and trumpet player. He's been working with Spike Lee in on capacity or another since Spike's second film School Daze (1988). His first full score for Spike was Jungle Fever (1991) and Blanchard has scored all but a couple of Lee's joints since...

Among his film and television scores outside of Spike Lee's filmographies are Cadillac Records, Their Eyes Were Watching God, and Love and Basketball. Next up is the score to the Harriet Tubman biopic Harriet. Likely to return to Oscar: You never know. Once they finally notice you it's easier, though. 

Nicholas Britell photographed by Helena Kubicka de Bragana

Nicholas Britell  for If Beale Street Could Talk  (39 years old | 10 films | 2nd nomination)
It took him several years to get noticed but a few years ago everyone noticed this Harvard and Juilliard graduate. Among his loyal set of directors are Adam McKay (Vice & The Big Short), Natalie Portman (everything she's directed from shorts on up - they met in college), and Barry Jenkins (Moonlight and If Beale Street Could Talk). Likelihood to return to Oscar: Very likely given the growing stable of prestige directors. 

Alexandre Desplat for Isle of Dogs (57 years old | 124 films | 10th nomination with 2 previous wins)
This Parisian composer is tireless and in constant demand, usually composing for 5-7 films a year.  Oscar was a bit slow to catch on (they ignored his masterful work in French cinema -- particularly the films of Jacques Audiard, and the scores for US films Birth in 2004 and The Painted Veil in 2006) but since nominating him for the first time for The Queen  (2006), they haven't been able to live without him. Likelihood to return to Oscar: Set in stone. In some ways he's the new John Williams. They almost never pass up a chance to honor him, with almost a nomination every year since they first realized they loved him. 

Ludwig Göransson

Ludwig Göransson  for Black Panther (34 years old | 14 films | 1st nomination!)
This Swedish composer only recently shot to fame right alongside writer/director Ryan Coogler (he's composed all three of his films: Fruitvale Station, Creed, and Black Panther). Göransson hasn't done a lot of film scores yet but he's shown quite a bit of range handling comedy (Top Five), horror (The Town That Dreaded Sundown) , action (Venom), and drama (Coogler's first two films). Next up: He's scoring the Star Wars series The Mandalorian and presumably whatever feature Ryan Coogler does next. Likelihood to return to Oscar: He's young and attached to the work of two of the most important rising creatives out there (Coogler plus Donald Glover, since he produces the Childish Gambino records) so he has a great shot at future awards glory. He's also been nominated for seven Grammy awards to date but has yet to win. 


Marc Shaiman for Mary Poppins Returns (59 years old | 40 films | 4th nomination in this category)
We'll forever love Shaiman from his musical scores to Hairpray the Broadway musical and Smash, the TV series, which had such grand music that the series fans have never stopped wishing for it to become a real Broadway show and not just a fictitious one. Likelihood to return to Oscar: As long as he gets another musical, otherwise possibly not. Shaiman is no longer as active in feature films as he was in the 1990s and his biggest successes in the past twenty years have been in songwriting (he has 3 Oscar nominations for that, too with his lyricist Scott Wittman).   He's already won an Emmy, a Grammy, and a Tony so he only needs the Oscar to EGOT.

Which of thse scores is your favourite? Vote on the chart


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Reader Comments (13)

I would vote for Desplat but FIRST MAN was the best score of the year in my opinion.

Best Original Score is my favourite category of all. But I am a film score nut!

February 6, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAdam Lewis

I'm rooting for Blanchard for his body of work and Brittel for the year's lushest score.

February 6, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterSan FranCinema

I truly am baffled by the Desplat nomination. It's a repetitive score with a magnificent end title. It's his most unimaginative score to just listen to without the film. I wish Giacchino was nominated instead. Or Hurwitz.

February 6, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterMorgan (the 1st)

I believe that Shaiman won a Grammy for the Hairspray soundtrack.

February 6, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterNathaniel

Britell is the best but I would be happy to see Blanchard take it too.

I would swap out the MPR score for Annihilation or First Man.

February 6, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterMya


February 6, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterDAVID

I've heard 4 of the 5 music scores as part of me wants Nicholas Brittell to win but I kind of want Ludwig Goransson to win. Just to have something different win.

February 6, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterthevoid99

Britell should win in the absence of Hurwitz. I would take out Desplat to get in First Man.

February 6, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

The public deserves an explanation for the Hurwitz snub. Criminal. Who would have thought the one score in the Golden Globes line-up that would be dropped would be THE WINNER? And for the boring "BlacKkKlansman?" Head-spinningly strange.

"Beale Street" is clearly the best of these, although I think "Black Panther" is excellent and "Mary Poppins Returns" is delightful in its 60s musical-throwback jubilance.

February 6, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

I'm torn between Terence Blanchard for the legacy and Alexandre Desplat for the brilliance.

February 6, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

Beale Street hands down. Give Terrence an honorary later this year and move on.

February 7, 2019 | Unregistered Commenter/3rtful

I still can’t believe Nicholas Britell’s score for Moonlight lost to Justin Hurwitz’s for La La Land two years ago, so I simultaneously feel a bit of schadenfraude and sadness that Hurwitz got snubbed for the movie he probably should be winning his first Oscar for.

February 7, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterMJ

I have to add my name to the #FirstMan chorus of fans. Just saw the movie last night and that score is special. How it didn't get a nom is a mystery to me.

February 7, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterRob

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