Predict Best Score Oscar: John Williams (‘Star Wars’) reaches 50 noms? Thomas Newman (‘Bridge of Spies’) finally wins?

john williams star wars the force awakens thomas newman bridge of spies

We’ve launched the Best Score category in our Oscars predictions center, and there are several opportunities for history to be made. First and foremost, legendary composer John Williams could pick up a stunning 50th nomination for “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” He already has more Oscar noms than any other person living, and he’s second only to Walt Disney for all-time.

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Given his epic haul of nominations, it’s perhaps surprising that Williams has only won five times: Best Scoring Adaptation and Song Score for “Fiddler on the Roof” (1971); Best Score for “Jaws” (1975), “Star Wars” (1977), “E.T. The Extraterrestrial” (1982) and “Schindler’s List” (1993). He hasn’t prevailed in more than two decades, but he has been nominated frequently since then, most recently for “The Book Thief” in 2013. Can Williams finally return to the winner’s circle by returning to the “Star Wars” universe?

Over the years Williams has composed most of Steven Spielberg‘s film scores, but Spielberg’s latest film, “Bridge of Spies” is instead composed by Thomas Newman, who is hoping to make some history of his own. He has been nominated for 12 Oscars before but has never won, including bids for films as diverse as “The Shawshank Redemption” (1994), “Finding Nemo” (2003), “Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events” (2004) and “Skyfall” (2012), to name just a few. Will collaborating with Spielberg work as well for him as it did for Williams? If not, Newman could also contend for the latest James Bond adventure, “Spectre.”

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There’s always hope for the academy to finally catch up to an overdue artist. Just ask Alexandre Desplat, who finally won this award last year for “The Grand Budapest Hotel” after eight nominations (he was also nominated last year for “The Imitation Game“). But he wasn’t quite as overdue as Newman. Desplat accumulated all of his nominations since just 2006, while Newman has been waiting since his first bid back in 1994. Desplat is back to defend his title, and he’s as prolific as ever; he could contend for “The Danish Girl” or “Suffragette” — or both.

There’s a chance another previous winner could return to the race, though he tragically won’t be there to see it. James Horner, who claimed Best Score and Best Song for “Titanic” (1997), died in a plane crash in June, but he could still be nominated for his work on “Southpaw” or “The 33.” The last time a composer was nominated posthumously was 1976, when Bernard Herrmann contended for both “Obsession” and “Taxi Driver.”

Then there’s Ennio Morricone. He didn’t win any of his five previous nominations, but the academy made it up to him by awarding him an Honorary Oscar in 2006. But the legendary composer could finally win a competitive race for “The Hateful Eight.”

Other previous winners aiming for repeat victories include Dario Marianelli (“Everest“), Hans Zimmer (“Freeheld“), Mychael Danna (“The Good Dinosaur“), Atticus Ross (“Love and Mercy“) and Howard Shore (“Spotlight“).

Michael Giacchino won for Pixar’s “Up” (2009) and could prevail again for another Pixar hit, “Inside Out,” but he also composed three other potential contenders this year: “Tomorrowland,” “Jupiter Ascending” and “Jurassic World.”

Carter Burwell is still aiming for his first career nomination, and he too is stacking the deck with four films in the running: “Anomalisa,” “Carol,” “Legend” and “Mr. Holmes.”

Also with multiple films in contention is James Newton Howard, still waiting for his first win after eight nominations. This year he composed “Concussion,” “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2” and “Pawn Sacrifice.”

Other notable contenders include Johann Johannsson (“Sicario“), who picked up his first nomination last year for “The Theory of Everything,” and Danny Elfman (“Joy“), whose iconic music has yet to win him an Oscar despite four previous nominations.

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