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2021 Oscars Best Original Score Predictions

The film scores most likely to appear in the nominations list for this year's Academy Awards

How many female film composers have won Oscars?

The Midnight Sky: Alexandre Desplat

Alexandre Desplat is no stranger to the Oscars, having received a raft of nominations in the past and winning most recently in 2017 for his sumptuously romantic score for The Shape of Water, which brought the sounds of water to life.

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The Midnight Sky is produced by Netflix and stars George Clooney in the role of Augustine, a scientist who – along with a young mute girl – is perceived to be the last person on Earth in a post-apocalyptic landscape.

Previous Oscar nominations for Best Original Score: 11
The Queen (2006)
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)
Fantastic Mr Fox (2009)
The King’s Speech (2010)
Argo (2012)
Philomena (2013)
The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)
The Imitation Game (2014)
The Shape of Water (2017)
Isle of Dogs (2018)
Little Women (2019)

Previous Oscar victories for Best Original Score: 2
The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)
The Shape of Water (2017)

Pieces of a Woman: Howard Shore

The Netflix film Pieces of a Woman is in the running to be considered at this year’s Oscars, with a score by the Canadian composer Howard Shore, who was also behind the iconic music of the Lord of the Rings franchise.

Starring Vanessa Kirby and Shia LaBeouf in the lead roles, the film tells the story of a couple whose experience of home birth ends in disaster, and the legal battle with the midwife that follows.

The music plays a key role in the film, namely in the 24-minute opening birth sequence, which has been described by viewers as being incredibly hard to watch.

Previous Oscar nominations for Best Original Score: 3
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)
Hugo (2011)

Previous Oscar victories for Best Original Score: 2
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)

Tenet: Ludwig Göransson

Tenet was one of the few films to have received a theatrical release in 2020, thanks to the frequent lockdowns and limited cinema openings. Directed by Christopher Nolan, Tenet‘s cast includes John David Washington, Robert Pattinson and Elizabeth Debicki, and explores the concept of time manipulation – something Göransson echoed in his complex musical score. The film’s dramatic score has been created by the young Swedish composer Ludwig Göransson, who entered the global stage in 2018 for his Oscar-winning work on the superhero film Black Panther.

Like Black PantherTenet‘s score creates tension and drama with its heady combination of dense orchestral textures, booming production and racing drumbeats.

Previous Oscar nominations for Best Original Score: 1
Black Panther (2018)

Previous Oscar victories for Best Original Score: 1
Black Panther (2018)

Soul: Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross

Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross have a renowned writing duo in the film music world since they won the Oscar for Best Original Score in 2010 for The Social Network, one of the very few electronic scores to be considered by the Academy.

Soul is a very different style for the pair. The animated Pixar film follows the journey of a school music teacher who tries to reunite his soul and his body after they become detached, just before his big break as a jazz musician. It became the first Pixar film to feature a black protagonist, and was released through Disney’s streaming platform Disney+ at the end of 2020. Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’s score is otherworldly and celestial. It’s predominantly used in the scenes of ‘The Great Before’, the place where unborn souls live before they go to Earth. A number of additional original jazz songs composed by musician and bandleader Jon Batiste are peppered throughout the jazz scenes set in New York.

Previous Oscar nominations for Best Original Score: 1
The Social Network (2010)

Previous Oscar victories for Best Original Score: 1
The Social Network (2010)

Mank: Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross

Mank has been described as a ‘film for movie buffs’, and is another film created and produced by Netflix. Gary Oldman plays Herman J Mankiewicz, who wrote the screenplay for Citizen Kane, and who is at the centre of this biopic. The film pays tribute to the Golden Age of Hollywood and the corruption at its core.

In the second potential 2021 nomination for American writing duo Trent Reznor and Atticus, Mank is a very different score to Soul. Its eerie, 1930s-style Hollywood orchestral writing takes inspiration from the music of the time.

Previous Oscar nominations for Best Original Score: 1
The Social Network (2010)

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Previous Oscar victories for Best Original Score: 1
The Social Network (2010)