Film composer John Williams is already one of the most awarded artists in Grammy history. He has prevailed 22 times, putting him in a four-way tie for sixth place (scroll through our gallery above to see all of the most awarded artists in history). This year he could add to his total with a victory for Best Visual Media Score Soundtrack for “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” If he wins number-23 he’ll have sixth place all to himself.
Williams’s most recent Grammy was at the 2015 awards when he claimed Best Instrumental Composition for “The Book Thief,” but his last victory in this race was a decade ago: he won Best Visual Media Score for “Memoirs of a Geisha” in 2007.
The “Star Wars” franchise alone has netted Williams five trophies, though they all came for the original 1977 “Star Wars” and its 1980 sequel, “The Empire Strikes Back.” He hasn’t won for the franchise since then, even though he has composed ever sequel and prequel since the very beginning — except for the 2016 stand-alone film “Rogue One,” which was composed by Michael Giacchino. Perhaps it’s time for Williams to reign again, or maybe Grammy voters will feel he has been duly rewarded for this film series.
His biggest threat may be the man who just beat him at the Oscars. Italian legend Ennio Morricone won Best Score at last year’s Academy Awards for Quentin Tarantino‘s “The Hateful Eight,” and now he’s in the running at the Grammys as well. The 88-year-old musician has a number of famous scores to his name, including “The Mission” (1986) and “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” (1966), the latter of which was entered into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2008. But his only competitive Grammy win came in 1988 when he took this category for “The Untouchables.”
They’re both up against a slightly younger composer, 61-year-old Thomas Newman for Steven Spielberg‘s “Bridge of Spies.” The prolific musician has been nominated for 13 Oscars without a single victory, but he’s had better luck at the Grammys, where he has won six times, including victories in this category for 1999’s “American Beauty” and 2012’s “Skyfall.”
“The Revenant” score didn’t make the cut at the Oscars, but its composers Alva Noto and Ryuichi Sakamoto could be redeemed at the Grammys. Noto has never won before, but Sakamoto was previously awarded this prize in 1989 for “The Last Emperor.”
Rounding out the category are Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein for “Stranger Things” — twice. They’re nominated for both “Volume 1” and “Volume 2” of their score for the Netflix breakout hit drama series. They’re also the only nominees in this category for a television program, which may help them stand out, but they may also be at risk of cancelling themselves out with two volumes competing against each other.
Gold Derby readers just like YOU often turn out to be our smartest prognosticators, so it’s important that you give us your predictions. You can continue to update and change your forecasts as often as you like before winner are announced on Feb. 12. Just click “Save” when you’ve settled on your choices. You’ll compete to win a $100 Amazon gift certificate, bragging rights and a place of honor on our leaderboard. Our racetrack odds change as you make your predictions, just as they do when you bet on the Emmys, Oscars, Golden Globes and more. Be sure to read our contest rules and sound off on the Grammy race in our music forum.