“Ammonite” — Dustin O’Halloran and Volker Bertelmann
“Blizzard of Souls” — Lolita Ritmanis
“Da 5 Bloods” — Terence Blanchard
“The Invisible Man” — Benjamin Wallfisch
“Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey” — John Debney
“The Life Ahead (La Vita Davanti a Se)” — Gabriel Yared
“The Little Things” — Thomas Newman
“Mank” — Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross
“The Midnight Sky” — Alexandre Desplat
“Minari” — Emile Mosseri
“Mulan” — Harry Gregson-Williams
“News of the World” — James Newton Howard
“Soul” — Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross, and Jon Batiste
“Tenet” — Ludwig Göransson
“The Trial of the Chicago 7” — Daniel Pemberton

How the Academy’s Music Branch chooses five original scores out of an eligible one hundred thirty-six is beyond me. But here we are with fifteen scores shortlisted. The category has composers we’re used to seeing at the Oscars: James Newton Howard, Thomas Newman, and Alexandre Desplat. Then there’s the composers that we’ve seen only once before: Ludwig Göransson, Terence Blanchard, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. Then there’s the newbies: Daniel Pemberton, Emile Mosseri, and Benjamin Wallfisch. Personally, I’m more inclined to think the more seasoned names will be the ones that get nominated. In fact, my picks for Best Original Score actually align five for five with the Golden Globe nominations.

Per the Academy’s press release:

Nominations voting begins on Friday, March 5, 2021, and concludes on Wednesday, March 10, 2021.
Nominations for the 93rd Academy Awards will be announced on Monday, March 15, 2021.
The 93rd Oscars® will be held on Sunday, April 25, 2021, and will be televised live on ABC and in more than 225 countries and territories worldwide.


Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross

“The Midnight Sky”
Alexandre Desplat

“News Of The World”
James Newton Howard

Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross, and Jon Batiste

Ludwig Göransson


The last time we saw Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross at the Oscars was when they won in 2010 for their work on “The Social Network.” Here they are again, nominated for their work in David Fincher on the film that is projected to get lots of love; “Mank.” This likely won’t be their only nomination, as they have to be the front runners for their work on the Pixar film “Soul.”


Not only does Alexandre Desplat have eleven Oscar nominations and two wins, the man’s been nominated every year for the last three years (“Little Women,” “Isle of Dogs,” and “The Shape Of Water”). Even when the film he works on isn’t a huge draw, he’s still able to pull off a nomination. And that’s what I feel will happen here. “The Midnight Sky” was definitely not a huge hit, but it doesn’t have to be to get him a nomination.


When the credits rolled on “News Of The World,” my first instinct was to track down the soundtrack and try to purchase it. I even tried to find the Mondo vinyl release which had sold out weeks before (it was double the original price on eBay so I passed). But the score was so good, it’s what stuck out of an otherwise average Western. Now, with the love young actress Helena Zengel is receiving for her performance in the film, you’ve got to imagine this film is on more people’s minds than originally perceived. James Newton Howard has eight Oscar nominations, six for Original Score, and zero wins. The man hasn’t even been nominated since 2008. Expect that to change.


Likely competing against themselves this year, with this work on “Mank” likely grabbing them a nomination, the front runner in the category has to be “Soul.” The entire film is based on it. With “Soul” also likely being the front runner in the Best Animated Feature category, the Academy could easily throw all their love behind the film.


Whether people liked “Tenet” or not, there are certain aspects of the film you simply cannot deny, the score being one of them. Especially compared to a lot of the scores on the shortlist, this one stands out to me.


Three scores catch my eye as possibly being able to garner enough support to bump off one of these. They all hinge on getting enough support from a possible Best Picture nomination. “Da 5 Bloods,” “Minari,” and “The Trial of the Chicago 7” are all vying for the big prize and that love could easily carry on throughout any category the film is nominated in. If people end up pushing their love for any of those films, the Score could follow suit.

“Ammonite” and “Blizzard of Souls” could surprise. Having no buzz surrounding the film all awards season to suddenly making the shortlist tells me there’s a support system behind the films that we haven’t seen yet. Any support shown to a film no one’s talking about could easily start putting it on other voting member’s radars. Two films I hope that doesn’t happen to are “The Little Things” and “Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey,” which will be getting no love from me this awards season.

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