Film Composer of the Year

ALEXANDRE DESPLAT (“The Golden Compass”)

Pedigree: Oscar nominee (“The Queen”), Golden Globe winner (“The Painted Veil”), last year’s WSA winner (Film Composer of the Year for both films).

Upside: Ambitious fantasy-film score, composer well respected in international community.

Downside: Film widely considered a disappointment; won last year’s WSA.

JAMES NEWTON HOWARD (“Charlie Wilson’s War,” “Michael Clayton,” “I Am Legend”)

Pedigree: Seven-time Oscar nominee (including “Michael Clayton”), three-time Golden Globe nominee, four prior WSA nods (including “King Kong,” “Batman Begins”).

Upside: Last year’s trio of high-profile, year-end films demonstrates wide musical range. May be his year.

Downside: Perennial bridesmaid at these kinds of award ceremonies. WSA may wait for a blockbuster (“Dark Knight”?).

ALBERTO IGLESIAS (“The Kite Runner”)

Pedigree: Nom’d for both Oscar and Globe for “Kite Runner,” seven-time Goya winner in Spain (including “Volver,” “Talk to Her”), three previous WSA noms (including “Constant Gardener,” “Bad Education”).

Upside: Popular Spanish composer, “Kite Runner” has strong world-music vibe.

Downside: Film not to all tastes.


Pedigree: Oscar and Globe winner for “Atonement,” two-time previous WSA nominee (for “Pride & Prejudice”).

Upside: Oscar, Globe wins for same score may seal the deal. Italian-born, London-based composer automatically says “world soundtrack.”

Downside: Least experienced of all nominees may mean he waits until he has a few more credits.

JOHN POWELL (“The Bourne Ultimatum”)

Pedigree: Annie winner (“Shrek”), Grammy nominee (“Happy Feet”), four previous WSA noms (for “The Bourne Supremacy,” “Ice Age: The Meltdown,” “Happy Feet”).

Upside: Respected composer combines orchestral writing with sophisticated electronics.

Downside: “Ultimatum” concluded a trilogy of action films, rarely rewarded for their music.


Best Original Score of the Year

“3:10 TO YUMA, Marco Beltrami

Pedigree: Oscar nominee (“Yuma”).

Upside: Offbeat Western score utilizing period instruments with modern electronic processing.

Downside: Film off most viewers’ radar screen now.

“ATONEMENT, Dario Marianelli

See previous category.

“THE KITE RUNNER, Alberto Iglesias

See previous category.

“THERE WILL BE BLOOD, Jonny Greenwood

Pedigree: Won Broadcast Film Critics Award, Berlin’s Silver Bear, received BAFTA nom for the Paul Thomas Anderson film.

Upside: Much-talked-about score drew praise from many quarters last year.

Downside: Radiohead writer/performer denied Oscar nom in controversy over how much of the score was actually original.

“WALL-E, Thomas Newman

Pedigree: Eight-time Oscar nominee (“Finding Nemo,” etc.), Grammy winner (“American Beauty”), two-time prior WSA nominee (“Road to Perdition,” “Lemony Snicket’s a Series of Unfortunate Events”).

Upside: Hugely popular Pixar film, most current of the five nominees.

Downside: Pixar films often nom’d, rarely win music awards, despite the major role music plays in animation.


Best Original Song Written Directly for Film

“DESPEDIDA” from “Love in the Time of Cholera”

Music by Antonio Pinto and Shakira, lyrics by Shakira, performed by Shakira

Pedigree: Golden Globe nominee.

Upside: Folk-style tune with evocative Andean sound featuring charango; folkloric lyrics by popular Latina rock star.

Downside: Poorly reviewed film, forgotten score.


Music by Thomas Newman and Peter Gabriel, lyrics by Gabriel, performed by Gabriel

Pedigree: See above category for Newman. Gabriel: two-time Globe nominee (“Rabbit-Proof Fence,” “Last Temptation of Christ”).

Upside: Popular Pixar film, songwriters popular from two different fronts (one in film, the other in world music).

Downside: Song relegated to end-title sequence, may not be noticed by many.

“DO YOU FEEL ME” from “American Gangster”

Music and lyrics by Diane Warren, performed by Anthony Hamilton

Pedigree: Six-time Oscar nominee (“How Do I Live,” “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing,” etc.), four-time Globe nominee, Grammy winner (“Because You Loved Me”), previous WSA nominee (song from Disney’s “Atlantis: The Lost Empire”).

Upside: Warren has been collecting lifetime achievement awards lately and this could be her shot in Ghent.

Downside: Mixed reviews for film, denied Oscar nom, voters may have missed it.

“GUARANTEED” from “Into the Wild”

Music and lyrics by Eddie Vedder, performed by Eddie Vedder

Pedigree: Golden Globe winner, Grammy nom for same song; previous Globe nom for “Big Fish.”

Upside: Pearl Jam frontman denied Oscar nom for his soulful “Into the Wild” songs, this might be consolation prize.

Downside: Some felt his songs played better outside of the film than in.

“A HERO COMES HOME” from “Beowulf”

Music and lyrics by Glen Ballard and Alan Silvestri; performed by Robin Wright Penn, Idina Menzel

Pedigree: Ballard and Silvestri’s previous teaming, on “Polar Express,” won a Grammy and noms from Oscars, Globes and WSA. Silvestri also has an Oscar nom for “Forrest Gump.”

Upside: Potent combo of traditional songwriting and pop production, probably the best thing about Robert Zemeckis’ film.

Downside: Silvestri another perennial bridesmaid at awards; film little-seen.