Thomas Newman (‘Bridge of Spies’): Is Steven Spielberg key to composer winning Oscar on 13th try?

bridge of spies thomas newman

What does Thomas Newman have to do to win an Oscar? The composer has been nominated 12 times over a span of 20 years, but he’s still waiting for his first win. This year he wrote the score for the Cold War drama “Bridge of Spies.” Will 13 be his lucky number?

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Bridge of Spies” marks Newman’s first collaboration with Steven Spielberg, who usually works with legendary composer John Williams. That fruitful partnership resulted in multiple Best Score nominations for Williams and three wins: “Jaws” (1975), “E.T.” (1982) and “Schindler’s List” (1993). But now Williams is their rival, competing as the composer of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” Can Newman take down one of cinema’s most celebrated composers? 

The Oscar is one of the few awards boxes Newman has yet to check off his wish list. He won an Emmy for composing the theme to HBO’s “Six Feet Under.” He has a pair of BAFTAs for his “American Beauty” and “Skyfall” scores. He’s got six Grammys for his film and TV music. He even won an Annie Award for “Finding Nemo.” So why does the Oscar continue to elude him?

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Ten of Newman’s past bids were for Best Original Score:

1994: “Little Women”; lost to “The Lion King” (Hans Zimmer)
1994: “The Shawshank Redemption”; lost to “The Lion King” (Hans Zimmer)
1999: “American Beauty”; lost to “The Red Violin” (John Corigliano)
2002: “Road to Perdition”; lost to “Frida” (Elliot Goldenthal);
2003: “Finding Nemo”; lost to “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” (Howard Shore)
2004: “Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events”; lost to “Finding Neverland” (Jan A.P. Kaczmarek)
2006: “The Good German”; lost to “Babel” (Gustavo Santaolalla)
2008: “WALL-E”; lost to “Slumdog Millionaire” (A.R. Rahman)
2012: “Skyfall”; lost to “Life of Pi” (Mychael Danna)
2013: “Saving Mr. Banks”; lost to “Gravity” (Steven Price)

One, in 2005, was for Musical/Comedy Score“Unstrung Heroes”; lost to “Pocahontas” (Alan MenkenStephen Schwartz)

And one, in 2008, was for Best Original Song: “Down to Earth” from “WALL-E”; lost to “Jai Ho” from “Slumdog Millionaire.”

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Thomas Newman photo credit: Jim Smeal/BEI/REX

“Bridge of Spies” photo credit: Courtesy Ev/REX

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