Where the musical contenders stand

Survey of likely nominees

Daily Variety surveyed this year’s field with an eye toward those songs and scores likely to be recognized as the award season heats up.


“American Beauty”

Thomas Newman’s offbeat, percussion-driven score brought a surprising serenity to the disturbing DreamWorks film. Newman, long considered one of Hollywood’s most creative composers, could also be nominated for “The Green Mile.”

“Angela’s Ashes”

John Williams could nab his 38th nomination for his exquisitely melancholy, piano-dominated score, with subtle hints of Irish influence, for Alan Parker’s film.

Williams’ score for the “Star Wars” prequel “The Phantom Menace” also looms as a possibility.

“Anna and the King”

George Fenton’s Eastern-flavored music, with its authentic colors and warmly romantic melodies, ranks among his best work. Fenton is a five-time nominee, including for “Gandhi” (1982).

“The Cider House Rules”

1996 winner Rachel Portman’s gentle theme and richly atmospheric score boosts the emotional power of Lasse Hallstrom’s film from the John Irving novel.

“The Hurricane”

Christopher Young’s jazz- and gospel-flavored backdrop for Denzel Washington’s outstanding portrayal of Rubin “Hurricane” Carter is one of the film’s assets.

“The Red Violin”

Renowned concert hall composer John Corigliano worked for over a year, writing both the onscreen violin pieces and the dramatic underscore, on this ambitious and satisfying music for string orchestra.

Joshua Bell played the solos.

“Snow Falling on Cedars”

James Newton Howard’s music, incorporating solo cello, shakuhachi and the Los Angeles Master Chorale, was one of the film’s most memorable elements.

He also scored the far more popular “The Sixth Sense,” which can’t be counted out.

“The Talented Mr. Ripley”

Gabriel Yared’s lush orchestral soundscape, punctuated by jazz colors of alto sax and vibes, complemented 1950s jazz tracks in Anthony Minghella’s thriller. Yared won the original score Oscar for Minghella’s “The English Patient” (1996).


Possibly the most audacious score of the year, Elliot Goldenthal’s music for the Shakespearean tragedy included everything from Latin-chanting choirs to symphonic music, jazz and rock.

“Toy Story 2”

Perennial nominee Randy Newman’s lively, clever and tuneful score for the animated Disney hit could turn out to be the sole comedy to snare a nomination.

Also in the hunt: Michael Nyman’s cooly romantic “The End of the Affair,” Ennio Morricone’s evocative “The Legend of 1900,” Jerry Goldsmith’s powerful “The Mummy” and Angelo Badalamenti’s country-flavored “The Straight Story.”


“Beautiful Stranger” from “Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me”

Madonna’s retro-’60s tune (written with William Orbit) was a top 20 hit, but a nomination could be derailed because the song is severely truncated in the film.

“Blame Canada” from “South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut”

The rude and raucous — but much loved — “South Park” musical may get its sole nomination with this hilarious Trey Parker-Marc Shaiman ditty about shirking parental responsibility.

“How Can I Not Love You” from “Anna and the King”

Record-biz heavyweight Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds, Fox music chief Robert Kraft and “Anna” composer Fenton collaborated on the film’s end-title pop tune, sung by Babyface protege Joy Enriquez.

“Music of My Heart” from “Music of the Heart”

It’s no coincidence that Wes Craven changed the title of his movie from “50 Violins” after Diane Warren turned in this winning anthem. Gloria Estefan and ‘NSync took this Diane Warren song to the No. 2 spot on the pop charts.

“Save Me” from “Magnolia”

Paul Thomas Anderson has made no secret of the fact that he wrote his script around singer-songwriter Aimee Mann’s tunes. “Save Me” is an original, a plea for rescue that mirrors the emotional situations of the film.

“Then You Look at Me” from “Bicentennial Man” James Horner and Will Jennings, who won Oscars for “Titanic,” can’t be counted out for their latest love ballad, sung by Celine Dion (and which just happens to be on Dion’s latest million-selling album).

“Walking Tall” from “Stuart Little”

Burt Bacharach and Tim Rice penned the main-title song for the surprise Christmas hit about the big-hearted mouse.

But voters may have an easier time remembering Diane Warren’s end-title song, “You’re Where I Belong,” sung by Trisha Yearwood.

“When She Loved Me” from “Toy Story 2”

Randy Newman’s paean to lost love, sung affectingly by Sarah McLachlan, underscores the most moving sequence of the film, as Jessie reminisces about her owner. Could Newman’s 13th nomination finally be the charm?

“You’ll Be in My Heart” from “Tarzan”

Phil Collins’ lullaby for Disney’s animated smash became a huge adult contemporary hit and, given Disney’s Oscar track record with musicals, is the surest bet this year for a nod.

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