Oscar Contenders

Some Thoughts on the 104 Original Scores Competing for 2013 Oscar Nominations

Which scores are you rooting for?

As far as I'm concerned, the two most memorable scores of the year belong to Cloud Atlas and Beasts of the Southern Wild. That said, I made an egregious and unforgivable mistake when filling out my Critics' Choice nominations and forgot to include not one of them, but BOTH of them! Shame. I feel it. Now I have to hope my fellow BFCA members came through where I failed.

However, we will discuss Critics' Choice nominations more on the upcoming episodes of the RopeofSilicon podcast, for now we're talking Oscar as the Academy has released a complete list of all 104 original scores competing for Best Original Score at the 2013 Oscars.

I have not yet posted my predictions for Best Original Score and while I am making a fuss above concerning Cloud Atlas and Beasts of the Southern Wild, I think both of those stand a very strong chance at a nomination this year. I also think it's a safe bet to put money on John Williams for a nomination for his Lincoln score where he was a bit restrained compared to his normal, over-the-top self in everything Steven Spielberg.

Dario Marianelli for Anna Karenina seems likely and so does Alexandre Desplat for Argo, which was one of the three scores I did nominate for a Critics' Choice Award. The other two I will discuss on tomorrow's podcast (12/11).

Additional likely contenders include Mychael Danna for Life of Pi, Jonny Greenwood for The Master and I would like to see Thomas Newman under consideration for Skyfall, but as much as I like that score itself, I'm not entirely sure it was 100% right for the movie. Oh, and while Danny Elfman getting a little attention for his Silver Linings Playbook score, that one didn't make the list, so hopefully eyes will turn to his work on Frankenweenie, which was a great little throwback and worthy of some attention.

I will say I'm a little surprised to see Hans Zimmer listed for The Dark Knight Rises as I expected that score to be disqualified on the grounds it was too close to his score for The Dark Knight, but it's nice to see that bit of controversy won't have to be discussed this year.

Have a look at the full list below and let me know which scores you're pulling for in the comments below.

  • Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter - Henry Jackman, composer
  • After the Wizard - Stephen Main, composer
  • Alex Cross - John Debney and Sebastian Morton, composers
  • The Amazing Spider-Man - James Horner, composer
  • Anna Karenina - Dario Marianelli, composer
  • Argo - Alexandre Desplat, composer
  • Battleship - Steve Jablonsky, composer
  • The Bay - Marcelo Zarvos, composer
  • Beasts of the Southern Wild - Dan Romer and Benh Zeitlin, composers
  • Being Flynn - Damon Gough, composer
  • The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel - Thomas Newman, composer
  • Big Miracle - Cliff Eidelman, composer
  • Booker's Place: A Mississippi Story - David Cieri, composer
  • Brave - Patrick Doyle, composer
  • Brooklyn Castle - B. Satz, composer
  • Chasing Ice - J. Ralph, composer
  • Chasing Mavericks - Chad Fischer, composer
  • Chicken with Plums - Olivier Bernet, composer
  • Chimpanzee - Nicholas Hooper, composer
  • Cloud Atlas - Reinhold Heil and Johnny Klimek, composers
  • Compliance - Heather McIntosh, composer
  • Contraband - Clinton Shorter, composer
  • The Dark Knight Rises - Hans Zimmer, composer
  • Dark Shadows - Danny Elfman, composer
  • Darling Companion - James Newton Howard, composer
  • Deadfall - Marco Beltrami and Buck Sanders, composers
  • The Dictator - Erran Baron Cohen, composer
  • Dr. Seuss' The Lorax - John Powell, composer
  • End of Watch - David Sardy, composer
  • Ethel - Miriam Cutler, composer
  • Flight - Alan Silvestri, composer
  • For a Good Time, Call... John Swihart, composer
  • For Greater Glory: The True Story of Cristiada - James Horner, composer
  • Frankenweenie - Danny Elfman, composer
  • Fun Size - Deborah Lurie, composer
  • Girl in Progress - Christopher Lennertz, composer
  • The Grey - Marc Streitenfeld, composer
  • The Guilt Trip - Christophe Beck, composer
  • Hidden Moon - Luis Bacalov, composer
  • Hitchcock - Danny Elfman, composer
  • The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey - Howard Shore, composer
  • Hotel Transylvania - Mark Mothersbaugh, composer
  • House at the End of the Street - Theo Green, composer
  • The Hunger Games - James Newton Howard, composer
  • Hyde Park on Hudson - Jeremy Sams, composer
  • Ice Age Continental Drift - John Powell, composer
  • The Impossible - Fernando Velázquez, composer
  • Jack Reacher - Joe Kraemer, composer
  • John Carter - Michael Giacchino, composer
  • Journey 2: The Mysterious Island - Andrew Lockington, composer
  • Lawless - Nick Cave and Warren Ellis, composers
  • Life of Pi - Mychael Danna, composer
  • Lincoln - John Williams, composer
  • Lola Versus - Will Bates and Philip Mossman, composers
  • Looper - Nathan Johnson, composer
  • The Lucky One - Mark Isham, composer
  • LUV - Nuno Malo, composer
  • The Man with the Iron Fists - RZA and Howard Drossin, composers
  • Marvel's The Avengers - Alan Silvestri, composer
  • The Master - Jonny Greenwood, composer
  • Men in Black 3 - Danny Elfman, composer
  • Middle of Nowhere - Kathryn Bostic, composer
  • Mirror Mirror - Alan Menken, composer
  • The Odd Life of Timothy Green - Geoff Zanelli, composer
  • On the Road - Gustavo Santaolalla, composer
  • The Pardon - Ashley Irwin, composer
  • Parental Guidance - Marc Shaiman, composer
  • People Like Us - A.R. Rahman, composer
  • The Possession - Anton Sanko, composer
  • Prometheus - Marc Streitenfeld, composer
  • Promised Land - Danny Elfman, composer
  • The Raid: Redemption - Mike Shinoda and Joseph Trapanese, composers
  • Red Tails - Terence Blanchard, composer
  • Rise of the Guardians - Alexandre Desplat, composer
  • Ruby Sparks - Nick Urata, composer
  • Safe House - Ramin Djawadi, composer
  • Safety Not Guaranteed - Ryan Miller, composer
  • Saint Dracula - Sreevalsan J. Menon, composer
  • Savages - Adam Peters, composer
  • Seeking a Friend for the End of the World - Rob Simonsen and Jonathan Sadoff, composers
  • The Sessions - Marco Beltrami, composer
  • Sinister - Christopher Young, composer
  • Skyfall - Thomas Newman, composer
  • Smashed - Eric D. Johnson and Andy Cabic, composers
  • Snow White and the Huntsman - James Newton Howard, composer
  • Taken 2 - Nathaniel Mechaly, composer
  • Ted - Walter Murphy, composer
  • Think Like a Man - Christopher Lennertz, composer
  • This Means War - Christophe Beck, composer
  • A Thousand Words - John Debney, composer
  • The Three Stooges - John Debney, composer
  • Trashed - Vangelis, composer
  • Trouble with the Curve - Marco Beltrami, composer
  • 21 Jump Street - Mark Mothersbaugh, composer
  • The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 - Carter Burwell, composer
  • Until They Are Home - Jamie Dunlap, composer
  • War of the Worlds The True Story - Jamie Hall, composer
  • The Watch - Christophe Beck, composer
  • West of Memphis - Nick Cave and Warren Ellis, composers
  • Where Do We Go Now? - Khaled Mouzanar, composer
  • Won't Back Down - Marcelo Zarvos, composer
  • The Words - Marcelo Zarvos, composer
  • Wreck-It Ralph - Henry Jackman, composer
  • Zero Dark Thirty - Alexandre Desplat, composer
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  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Travis/ Travis

    Alex Cross?

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/ Brad Brevet

      You don't think it should be eligible?

      • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Travis/ Travis

        No, it was joke, as if I thought it should win.

        • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Travis/ Travis

          I didn't tell it right

  • Alex

    Really really glad Greenwood's eligible this year...I was worried he'd be disqualified again. That said I wouldn't bank on a nod.

    Pulling big for Tykwer's beautiful Cloud Atlas score.

    BUT! Why aren't Desplat's Moonrise Kingdom score, or Jon Brion's criminally underrated work for Paranorman in contention?

    • http://hypethemovies.wordpress.com Jordan B.

      Desplat's score for Moonrise Kingdom isn't an original score. Part of it is sourced from the music of Benjamin Britten, which we actually find out, more or less, in the opening scene of the film. It's a fantastic score, one of my favorites of the year, but it isn't original, so it doesn't qualify.

      • Alex

        Ahh so his original work doesn't reach that certain percentage of the weight of the score, cause too much of the music in the film is also the adapted? Cause the stuff that Desplat does contribute is beautiful. Is there an actual mathematical system or is it just kind of a determination to be made by the board?

        • http://hypethemovies.wordpress.com Jordan B.

          I don't think there is a mathematical system so much as it is a judgment call on the Academy's behalf. I could be wrong (Brad, care to help?), but it seems that either they deem it eligible, or they don't. According to the Academy's rules for the Original Score category (and I have bolded things for emphasis):

          "An original score is a substantial body of music that serves as original dramatic underscoring and is written specifically for the motion picture by the submitting composer."

          "Scores diluted by the use of tracked themes or other preexisting music, diminished in impact by the predominant use of songs, or assembled from the music of more than one composer shall not be eligible."

    • Kyle

      Yeah I feel like a fair amount of the music (and, imo, some of the best music moments in the movie) came from elsewhere

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Aleonardis/ Aleonardis

    Marianelli on Anna is AMAZING. I love both the DKR and Skyfall scores. Pi's is pretty great as well. I've actually listened to a bunch of these and I hadn't even realized. I'm a fan of Amazing Spider-Man's score as well. The Master's is kinda terrifying. It turns the movie into a horror movie of sorts. I love a lot of these actually!

  • Eric
    • http://hypethemovies.wordpress.com Jordan B.

      Listened to it for about 30 minutes. Good stuff so far!

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Travis/ Travis

    In all seriousness, here is the shortlist I made, with stars next to my predictions.

     Anna Karenina - Dario Marianelli, composer *
     Argo - Alexandre Desplat, composer *
     Beasts of the Southern Wild - Dan Romer and Benh Zeitlin, composers
     Cloud Atlas - Reinhold Heil and Johnny Klimek, composers
     The Dark Knight Rises - Hans Zimmer, composer
     The Dictator - Erran Baron Cohen, composer (I can dream, I enjoyed it)
     Frankenweenie - Danny Elfman, composer
     Hitchcock - Danny Elfman, composer
     The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey - Howard Shore, composer
     Life of Pi - Mychael Danna, composer
     Lincoln - John Williams, composer *
     The Master - Jonny Greenwood, composer *
     Prometheus - Marc Streitenfeld, composer
     Skyfall - Thomas Newman, composer
     Zero Dark Thirty - Alexandre Desplat, composer *

    • http://hypethemovies.wordpress.com Jordan B.

      A solid shortlist, and some pretty good predictions, but I have a really hard time leaving out Beasts.

      • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Travis/ Travis

        It is sitting 6 at present.

        • http://hypethemovies.wordpress.com Jordan B.

          It is, personally, my favorite so far this year. I can't get it out of my head, which is always a sign of something catchy!

          If I were to make my own predictions, I'd say we'll have nominations for (in alphabetical order): Anna Karenina, Argo, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Lincoln, and Zero Dark Thirty. And I think Life of Pi, The Master, and Cloud Atlas sit on the fringe (for now). As far as ordering goes, I think Zero Dark Thirty has to be near the top, as well as Beasts and Lincoln. But of course, all of this is just hunches and guess work, as I have no idea how this will shake out.

          So if I were to order my list right now, I'd probably go:

          1. Zero Dark Thirty
          2. Lincoln
          3. Beasts of the Southern Wild
          4. Argo
          5. Anna Karenina
          ---BUBBLE LINE---
          6. The Master
          7. Life of Pi
          8. Cloud Atlas

  • http://cinemaconfessions.blogspot.com Gautam

    "Oh, and I know Danny Elfman is likely to get more love for his Silver Linings Playbook score than he will for his Frankenweenie music"

    Brad, He might get the attention but probably of no use, since he is disqualified. Didn't you notice he isn't in the list ?

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/ Brad Brevet

      Ha, nope. Fixed.

  • Jesse3232

    Hans Zimmer's score was phenomenal in The Dark Knight Rises. Did that have your vote in Critic's Choice Brad?

  • Corbin (formerly The New Guy)

    My favorite original score was Moonrise Kingdom, and it didn't even make it. A real shame.

  • JN Films

    My 5 for Score:
    Beasts of the Southern Wild - Dan Romer and Benh Zeitlin, composers
    The Dark Knight Rises - Hans Zimmer, composer
    Cloud Atlas - Reinhold Heil and Johnny Klimek, composers
    Lincoln - John Williams, composer
    Zero Dark Thirty - Alexandre Desplat, composer

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Ian/ Ian

    My favorite score of the year is still Zimmer's for The Dark Knight Rises. I think Nolan really brings out the best in him, and while that was definitely the weakest of Nolan's Batman films, I think it had the strongest score. It's probably worth noting that I tend to most enjoy scores that work standalone from the film...I don't listen to much music really, but probably close to half of the music I own is film scores. In that regard I'm really looking forward to Howard Shore's Hobbit scores as I think his scores for the LOTR films are among the best of all time.

  • Nick

    What I'm curious about is, why isn't Tykwer listed as one of Atlas' composers?

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/EPayneDDS/ EPayneDDS

    Hanz Zimmer: The Dark Knight Rises. For sure.

  • http://cineenuruguay.blogspot.com/ Driver

    The best for me so far, without watching most of the big oscar contenders are:

    -Looper - I really loved Nathan Johnson's work 'The Brothers Bloom' and with 'Looper' he does a just as good job but the sound and music is so different that really stayed with me.
    -The Dark Knight Rises - I think is different to TDK score, specially with that Bane theme making its way on most of the other tracks.
    -Argo - The score is on par with the movie so that kind of says it all.
    -Skyfall - Different for a Bond movie but still a great piece of music, with some really different styles through it.

    If something not nominated for best picture gets in on score It probably be between Cloud Atlas, Skyfall, The Dark Knight Rises and Anna Karenina.

    Good scores that wont get nominated but deserve a mention:

    -Sinister - An incredible score that counts for most of the movie's effect. If you listen to this in the night you'll be looking over your shoulder every 10 seconds. It an effective score full of weird sounds and tones.
    -The Raid - A fun score than anything else, Shinoda and Trapanese made a different and fast score that works even better if you listen to it outside of the movie.

  • TheHey

    I was afraid that the Skyfall score and the title song would be disqualified because they use the original Monte Norman theme.

  • Ra

    Cloud atlas!

  • Kyle

    Yeah I personally thought The Dark Knight Rises score was very different from The Dark Knight and I really loved it!

  • Theo

    My Top 5:

    1. Prometheus - Marc Streitenfeld
    2. Skyfall - Thomas Newman
    3. Looper - Nathan Johnson
    4. Argo - Alexandre Desplat
    5. The Dark Knight Rises - Hans Zimmer

  • Arturo

    You were wrong about Dark Knight Rises, lol. I personally think it's got a good chance at a nomination, considering its Grammy nomination, but wouldn't put money on it.

  • Andy

    I feel like I'm in the minority on this, but I felt the score for Lincoln was somewhat invasive of the film. The best scores elevate a movie while still laying low under the film itself, but John Williams' score completely broke the mood (especially during the scene where *SPOILER?* Tommy Lee Jones is renouncing his feelings that black people are equal to whites). The music actually infuriated me during this scene, and I would not be mad if Lincoln was left off the nominations list.

  • Rolocop

    No AVENGERS on the list?

    • http://hypethemovies.wordpress.com Jordan B.

      It's under, "Marvel's The Avengers."

  • Al

    Did you listened the score for the 2004' tsunami movie The Impossible by Fernando Velazquez? That should definitely make waves! Amazing score which ties so well with the movie. Very powerful and emotional theme by the composer of The Orphanage

  • http://soundcloud.com/dilan-r Dilan

    What a list of great music. Haven't even heard half of it yet. I will say I think Henry Jackman, even though he probably won't win, is the guy to watch out of all these people. Everything he turns is is gold, and he's a genuine ability with traditional score type as well as an electronics/producing maestro. Hes like Williams an Zimmer combined.

  • DavidG

    Brad, I am with you on Cloud Atlas and Beasts of the Southern Wild. I finally was able to see the latter last week and the score blew me away. I would have those on my list, as well as Argo.

  • ad finem

    I agree with Al! I cant wait to see The impossible!!!! The score is awesome!
    Maybe this year's underdog???

  • jan bossing

    Oh My Goodness! Nashville treasure Vodoo, featured in Halloween Party, is an OSCAR contender! This is Nashville real-deal plus a Hendrix twist! Congratulations to co-writers Bruce Michael Miller and CJ Watson, and also to Forest Miller and Donna Britton, and to producer Linda Palmer! WOW!

    • hassan ali ahmed

      PEOPLE LIKE US BY AR RAHMAN WILL WIN SURE SHORT NOMINATION FR DA OSCARS..

  • sam

    personally, i think PEOPLE LIKE US is very unique album which blend various style not just stereotype, n at time make ur heart move while watching with the movie, how can the composer can brings the same emotion in his music, truly wonderful