Last year's winner in this category was Ludovic Bource for his music from "The Artist."
Identifying trends in this category can be difficult. Recent winners in this category include 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," and "Slumdog Millionaire."
Among this year's contenders are "Lincoln" (five-time winner John Williams), "Anna Karenina" ("Atonement" winner Dario Marianelli), "Life of Pi" (Mychael Danna), and "Beasts of the Southern Wild" (Benh Zeitlin and Dan Romer).
Alexandre Desplat has been nominated four times in the last five years, and this year has three films in contention: "Argo," "Rise of the Guardians," and "Zero Dark Thirty."
Four-time nominee Danny Elfman has two films competing for nominations: "Frankenweenie" and "Hitchcock."