Ninety-year-old John Williams received his 53rd nomination, and a team of composers was nominated for original score for only the eighth time in Oscar history during this morning’s Academy Awards nominations.
Yet, despite the presence of two women and three African-American composers on this year’s 15-film shortlist, none made the final five. So Chanda Dancy (“Devotion”) and Hildur Guðnadóttir (“Women Talking”) were left off, as were Michael Abels (“Nope”) and Terence Blanchard (“The Woman King”).
With his nomination for “The Fabelmans,” the venerable Williams, scoring his 29th film over the past 50 years for director Steven Spielberg, retains his record as the most-nominated composer and most-nominated living person.
He already has five Oscars, including three for Spielberg (“Jaws,” “E.T.” and “Schindler’s List”), and according to Academy statistics is also believed to be the oldest nominee in a competitive award category.
Son Lux’s nomination for “Everything Everywhere All at Once” is especially interesting as the branch rarely nominates films with more than one composer. In this case, the experimental band (Ryan Lott, Rafiq Bhatia, Ian Chang) was cited for its nearly wall-to-wall music for the multiverse comedy-drama.
And two members of the band are people of color, so the music branch didn’t go all-white, as has often been the case in the past.
Of the previous seven nominated scores written by three or more composers, three have actually won: “Limelight” in 1972, “The Last Emperor” in 1987 and “Soul” in 2020. Son Lux founder Lott is also up for best song (“This Is the Life” from “Everything Everywhere”) along with David Byrne, who was one of the Oscar winners for “Last Emperor.”
Son Lux is the only newcomer to the Oscar race for score. German composer Volker Bertelmann, a previous nominee (for “Lion”), was nominated for “All Quiet on the Western Front,” while Carter Burwell (two-time nominee for “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” and “Carol”) made the list for “The Banshees of Inisherin.”
Justin Hurwitz, a two-time winner for song and score for 2017’s “La La Land,” is back in the race with “Babylon,” his latest film with “La La Land” director Damien Chazelle. He recently won the Golden Globe for his wild, in-your-face jazz score for the three-hour early-Hollywood epic.
Another surprise this morning was the omission of French composer Alexandre Desplat, who is generally a favorite of the branch and whose music for “Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio” was widely praised; he was up for both song and score and missed out on both.
Two of the biggest box-office successes of the season were possibilities in this category for their grand-scale orchestral and choral work for massive epics, yet didn’t make the cut: Simon Franglen’s “Avatar: The Way of Water” and Ludwig Göransson for “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.” Göransson, however, is up for best song, as he co-wrote “Lift Me Up” from that film with director Ryan Coogler, Rihanna and Tems (and he already won for the original “Black Panther” score in 2019).
Guðnadóttir’s omission was something of a surprise as her score for “Tár” had been disqualified by the branch and, as a current Hollywood favorite (after her 2019 win for “Joker”), she was considered a likely nominee for her other 2022 score, “Women Talking.”