John Williams, arguably the most famous composer in film history, is a five-time Oscar-winner for Best Score and a 48-time nominee overall, which makes him the second most nominated individual in Oscar history, behind Walt Disney. He could be a contender again this year for scoring “The Book Thief.”
Speaking of Disney, the legendary Hollywood producer is the subject of “Saving Mr. Banks,” about the making of “Mary Poppins.” That film features a score composed by Thomas Newman, who unlike Williams has no Oscars to show for his multiple nominations. He’s been nodded 11 times, most recently for “Skyfall” last year, but he has never won.
Will those two renowned artists duke it out for the win? It can be especially challenging to predict outcomes in this category; music is a non-visual art form, so identifying trends can be difficult, and previous winners run the gamut, with Oscars going to contemporary films (“The Social Network”), period films (“Atonement”), animated films (“Up”), and fantasy epics (“The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring” and “The Return of the King”).
Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross‘s winning “Social Network” score featured untraditional, ambient music, but more traditional orchestral scores typically prevail, as well as scores featuring and influenced by world music styles, including “Babel,” “Frida,” “Slumdog Millionaire,” and last year’s winner “Life of Pi.”
Other well-known composers in this year’s race include Hans Zimmer, a nine-time nominee and a winner for “The Lion King,” who has multiple films in the running: “12 Years a Slave,” “Rush,” “The Lone Ranger,” and “Man of Steel.”
Randy Newman is a two-time Oscar winner for songwriting, out of 20 overall nominations for music. His first Oscar win came in 2001 for “If I Didn’t Have You” from “Monsters Inc.” He’s eligible this year for the prequel to that film, “Monsters University.”
Danny Elfman is a four-time nominee, most recently for composing the music for “Milk.” This year he’s looking for his fifth bid for the blockbuster fantasy “Oz the Great and Powerful.”
Review all the major contenders and then make your predictions below: