Oscars 2017: First-timers and an old guard compete for Best Score

This year’s Oscar nominees for Best Score are an impressive mix of newcomers and one legend. For the first time in modern Oscar history the majority of the nominees (four of five) are first-timers. That is an amazing feat for a category that is known for nominating and rewarding established composers. Below, let’s take a look at at this year’s crop of Best Score Oscar contenders and then click here to see who our experts think will.

Mica Levi is nominated for “Jackie.” The biopic is also up for two additional Oscars including Best Actress and Best Costume Design. Levi (also known as Micachu) is only the fourth woman to be nominated in this category. She joins a company of female composers that includes winners Marilyn Bergman (“Yentl”), Anne Dudley (“The Full Monty”) and Rachel Portman (“Emma”). In an interview with our sister site Variety, Levi reveals that it was the late First Lady’s “way, grace and strength” that helped her create the trance-like score.

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Justin Hurwitz is nominated for “La La Land.” The musical is this year’s leader with a record 14 Oscar bids. After being disqualified for consideration in 2014 for “Whiplash,” Hurwitz rebounds with not only a nomination here but also an additional two bids for Best Song for “Audition (The Fools Who Dream)” and “City of Stars.” Throughout the season Hurwitz has been the one to beat with winning the all of the precursors. The infectious score is one of the many aspects of the film that will be rewarded on Oscar night.

Dustin O’Halloran and Volker Bertelmann are nominated for “Lion.” The drama is up for five additional nominations including Best Picture. The duo is the first pairing since 2014 to be nominated. The last were Will Butler and Owen Pallett for “Her.” The last pairing to win was Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross for “The Social Network” back in 2011. Of the newcomers nominated, O’Halloran is the one that has been previously awarded. He won an Emmy in 2015 for the title theme for “Transparent.” In a web chat with Gold Derby’s Zach Laws, the duo discussed the choice of being restraint with their piano-infused score.

Justin Hurwitz (‘La La Land’) is the Oscar frontrunner for Best Score with 1-to-10 odds from Experts

Nicholas Britell is nominated for “Moonlight.” The coming-of-age drama is up for an additional seven nominations that includes Best Supporting Actor and Best Adapted Screenplay. In addition to Britell and excluding producers Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner, all of the film’s nominees are first-timers. Britell also composed the score to last year’s Oscar-winning film “The Big Short.” During Gold Derby’s Meet the Experts panel, Britell chatted about his poetic classical-inspired score and his close collaboration with writer/director Barry Jenkins.

And then there’s Thomas Newman, who’s nominated for “Passengers.” The space drama is also up for Best Production Design. This is his 14th nomination without a single win. Newman is part of the prestigious Newman film score dynasty. His father, legendary composer Alfred Newman, is the category’s most awarded and nominated composer with nine wins and 43 nominations. In an interview with our sister site Variety, Newman reveals that in his storied career he has yet to score a western. When he eventually tackles that genre, it’ll likely add to his impressive nominations tally.

Predict the Oscar winners now; change them till February 26

Be sure to make your Oscar predictions. Weigh in now with your picks so that Hollywood insiders can see how their films are faring in our Oscar odds. You can keep changing your predictions right up until just before winners are announced on February 26 at 5:00 pm PT/8:00 pm ET. And join in the fierce debate over the 2017 Oscars taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our forums.

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