×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Complete Guide to This Year’s Oscar-Nominated Scores

Unlike the song category, it’s impossible to predict the winner from this year’s quintet of original-score nominees. It’s almost anyone’s game.

Swedish composer Ludwig Göransson spent a month in Africa recording unusual drums, flutes and vocals, then adding them to a massive London orchestra and choir to create a unique soundscape for the fictional land of Wakanda in “Black Panther” — the first Marvel movie to land a score nomination.

Terence Blanchard, like Göransson, is a first-time nominee for “BlacKkKlansman” — amazingly, as he has been Spike Lee’s house composer since 1991, doing acclaimed work on films like “Malcolm X” and “Inside Man.” He’s also the first African-American composer to be nominated in this category since Herbie Hancock won 32 years ago for “Round Midnight.”

Nicholas Britell, previously nominated for 2016’s “Moonlight,” reunited with director Barry Jenkins for “If Beale Street Could Talk,” from James Baldwin’s story of racial injustice. His more intimate music, mostly for strings and brass, stands in sharp contrast to the bigger, more traditionally orchestral scores in this group.

French composer Alexandre Desplat, who has won twice in the last four years (“The Grand Budapest Hotel” and last year’s “The Shape of Water”), is nominated for the animated “Isle of Dogs,” his fourth film for “Budapest” director Wes Anderson. But will Academy voters reward him a third time in five years? Only Alan Menken has accomplished that, and that was back in the days of the classic Disney musicals.

Speaking of Disney musicals, what of “Mary Poppins Returns” by Marc Shaiman? If “Shallow” wins best song, could this be the place where Academy voters honor the long-awaited sequel to one of the studio’s most famous films? Shaiman has been nominated five times before this year without a win (he’s also up for Best Song with “The Place Where Lost Things Go”). And if he wins — having already received an Emmy, a Grammy and a Tony — he becomes one of only a handful of EGOT honorees.

 

Black Panther

Ludwig Göransson

Oscar record: First nomination

Musical style: African sounds, rhythms plus big orchestra

Composer’s POV: “I came back from Africa with a totally different idea of music. This music was so unique and special, so the challenge became, how do I have that as the foundation of the entire score, but infuse it with an orchestra and modern production in a way that it didn’t lose its African authenticity?”

Surprising fact: Famed Senegalese musician Baaba Maal and members of his band perform on the score.

 

——

 

BlacKkKlansman

Terence Blanchard

Oscar record: First nomination

Musical style: Blanchard’s ’70s style “electric band” plus orchestra

Composer’s POV: “I started thinking about Jimi Hendrix playing the National Anthem. That was the most American thing I could think of — the rebellious nature of it, the classic melodic thing we all stand for and have all come to revere, but done his way.”

Surprising fact: Blanchard started playing trumpet on Spike Lee scores in ’89, began composing them in ’91

 

———

 

If Beale Street Could Talk

Nicholas Britell

Oscar record: Second nomination

Musical style: Chamber-style score for strings and brass

Composer’s POV: “It’s mostly cellos and basses. To us, that felt like love. The film focuses on romantic love, parents’ love for their children, an almost idealized kind of love at times. The strings represented love, and the brass elements represented extremes of emotion.”

Surprising fact: Britell also scored another multiple Oscar nominee: “Vice”

 

———

 

Isle of Dogs

Alexandre Desplat

Oscar record: Two wins, seven other noms

Musical style: Strange ensemble of taiko drums, saxophones, male choir

Composer’s POV: “The taikos drive us along, like a long, tedious, difficult march that these dogs have to walk, from one point to another on the island, to find the lost dog.”

Surprising fact: Desplat’s fourth unconventional score for a Wes Anderson movie

 

————-

 

Mary Poppins Returns

Marc Shaiman

Oscar record: Five previous noms (also nom’d this year for song)

Musical style: Classically, nostalgically symphonic

Composer’s POV: “The little boy in me had this fantasy, this dream, to somehow become part of the ‘Mary Poppins’ story. The weeks of scoring this movie were the greatest weeks of my life.”

Surprising fact: Shaiman recorded an early version of the score for director Rob Marshall to play on the set; it all ended up in the movie

More Film

  • Unicorn Store Trailer

    Watch the First Trailer for Brie Larson's Directorial Debut, 'Unicorn Store'

    Brie Larson is seeking salvation from Samuel L. Jackson in Neflix’s first trailer for her directorial debut, the offbeat comedy-drama “Unicorn Store.” Larson is portraying a lonely 20-something dreamer who’s been kicked out of art school. She’s forced to move back home with her parents and take a temp job at a PR agency. But [...]

  • Patti Rockenwagner

    Chief Brand Officer Patti Röckenwagner Leaves STX Entertainment (EXCLUSIVE)

    Patti Röckenwagner is leaving STX Entertainment where she has served as the company’s chief brand officer. She announced her departure in a memo to staff, in which she said she was departing for “another opportunity.” The exit is an amicable one. Röckenwagner joined STX in 2016 as its chief communications officer before being promoted to [...]

  • Gabrielle Union

    10 Things We Learned at Variety’s 2019 Entertainment Marketing Summit

    Variety’s 2019 Entertainment Marketing Summit, which brought top execs to Hollywood’s NeueHouse on Thursday, covered considerable ground. From cutting through the noise in an oversaturated media landscape to welcoming exciting technology like virtual reality, industry veterans offered insight into what to expect from the marketing world in coming years. Here are 10 things we learned [...]

  • Orange Studio, OCS Join Forces On

    Orange Studio, OCS Join Forces on Flurry of High-Profile Series

    Following “The Name of the Rose”(pictured) and “Devils,” France’s Orange has unveiled four internationally-driven series projects as part of its commitment to step into premium original shows with its film/TV division Orange Studio and pay TV group OCS both of board. Currently in development, the social western “Cheyenne & Lola,” the dance-filled workplace drama “The [...]

  • 'This Isn’t Spinal Tap': Dishing the

    'This Isn't Spinal Tap': Dishing the Dirt on Motley Crue's Surprisingly Dark Biopic

    The new, eagerly awaited Motley Crue biopic, based on Neil Strauss’ best-selling 2001 book, “The Dirt: Confessions of the World’s Most Notorious Rock Band,” premieres today on Netflix after a seemingly endless 13 years in development hell. Those anticipating “a fun ‘80s music movie,” as Crue bassist Nikki Sixx puts it, will inevitably be stunned [...]

  • Doppelgänger Red (Lupita Nyong'o) and Adelaide

    Box Office: Jordan Peele's 'Us' Nabs $7.4 Million on Thursday Night

    Jordan Peele’s horror-thriller “Us” opened huge with $7.4 million on Thursday night in North America. The figure easily topped Thursday preview numbers for “The Nun” at $5.4 million and “A Quiet Place” at $4.3 million and nearly matched “Halloween” at $7.7 million. Projections for Universal’s “Us,” Peele’s much-anticipated follow-up to 2017’s “Get Out,” have been in [...]

  • Beatriz Bodegas on Netflix Original: ‘Who

    ‘Who Would You Take to a Desert Island?’ Producer on New Spanish Netflix Original

    BARCELONA – “Who Would You Take to a Desert Island?” is the second directorial outing from Spain’s Jota Linares (“Animales sin collar”) a Netflix Original premiering on Friday, March 22 in competition at the Malaga Spanish Language Film Festival. Starring María Pedraza, Jaime Lorente, Pol Monen and Andrea Ros, the film is the movie adaptation [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content