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by Peter Knegt
February 15, 2014 8:43 PM
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2014 Oscar Predictions: Best Original Score


Indiewire will provide regular updates of our predictions for the 86th Academy Awards through March 2nd, when the winners are announced.

Steven Price's music for "Gravity" seems to be the most popular choice among Oscar pundits to win here, and he indeed won the Critics Choice Award for it -- one of the few major precursors that hand out a prize in this category. But Price lost the Golden Globe to the Oscar-snubbed Alex Ebert (for "All Is Lost"). While "Gravity" is all but assured a slew of artistic and technical wins (cinematography, visual effects, sound mixing, sound editing and perhaps production design all look like good bets), this might be a category where voters will feel inspired to spread the love to two best picture nominees they might not check off anywhere else: "Her" and "Philomena."  The latter is scored by Alexandre Desplat, who notably has lost this award five times in the past seven years (for "The Queen," "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," "Fantastic Mr. Fox," "The King's Speech" and "Argo"). The former, meanwhile, comes via Oscar newbies Owen Pallett and Will Butler (both involved with Arcade Fire), whose score for "Her" (a personal favorite, FYI) has won them a handful of critics prizes and are the kind of outside-the-industry winner the Academy has recently shown an interest in rewarding (Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross's win for "The Social Network" comes to mind). Or they'll go old school. Because there's also John Williams, who received his whopping 49th Oscar nomination for "The Book Thief." Yes, he's won five times. But the last time was 20 years ago for "Schindler's List."

Nominees and predictions below. Check out all predictions in all the categories here.

The nominees:
“The Book Thief” John Williams
“Gravity” Steven Price
“Her” William Butler and Owen Pallett
“Philomena” Alexandre Desplat
“Saving Mr. Banks” Thomas Newman

Will win: “Gravity” Steven Price
Could win: “Philomena” Alexandre Desplat
Should win: “Her” William Butler and Owen Pallett
Shoulda been here: "12 Years a Slave" Hans Zimmer

Check out all predictions in all the categories here.

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  • yogi | March 3, 2014 12:34 AMReply

    Interesting sound effects to be certain...but this is not an Oscar-worthy score. Leave a monkey sitting at a synthesizer long enough and this is the score he will write. I am not opposed to luud, banging scores--but this is all SFX. If you want to hear a score that is about sfx but is rich with melody and harmony, listen to John Corigliano's score for "Altered States."

    As for this this year's Oscar, any of the the other scores would have been preferable to this as a winner. However, I do think that as SFX, this is a very fine sound support for the film.

  • lalaland | March 2, 2014 1:43 AMReply

    the secret life of walt mitty should have been here too .

  • FunkyMonk | February 23, 2014 2:16 AMReply

    The Wind Rises score should have been here.

  • MTN | February 15, 2014 10:37 PMReply

    Score is such an integral part of "Gravity", more than any other nominee that I cannot imagine it not winning the Oscar. While the others mentioned are good as well, they only enhance their films.

  • Joseph | February 13, 2014 7:50 PMReply

    will win steven price

  • Mirko | January 29, 2014 4:11 PMReply

    Only one nomination for Saving Mr Banks. It's scandal, shemful.

  • ronald hendel | January 21, 2014 8:34 PMReply

    no contest sound track for oblivion should have won.

  • Dylan | January 13, 2014 8:26 PMReply

    My Nominations (Best Original Score):
    Cliff Martinez - ONLY GOD FORGIVES
    Christopher Beck - FROZEN
    Hans Zimmer - THE LONE RANGER
    Steven Price - GRAVITY
    Arcade Fire & Owen Pallett - HER

  • stefan | January 13, 2014 1:20 PMReply

    5. Alex Ebert, All Is Lost
    7. Alex Ebert, All Is Lost

  • Anderson | January 10, 2014 3:07 PMReply

    John Williams should be given a permanent yearly nomination.

  • Mirko | January 10, 2014 2:06 PMReply

    I believe Newman for Saving Mr Banks.

  • Alucard | December 25, 2013 3:10 AMReply

    Again, where is Man of Steel OST ? After Gravity best score this year !

  • Travis | December 25, 2013 1:38 AMReply

    Scratching my head at the absence of CAPTAIN PHILLIPS on this list. That score added something to the high-paced suspense of that film!

  • Rae | December 21, 2013 5:01 AMReply

    What about Christophe Beck for Frozen?

  • Bard | December 19, 2013 7:22 AMReply

    Unexpected win for John Williams?
    Others: Steven Price, Hans Zimmer, Alex Ebert & Thomas Newman

  • John | December 18, 2013 1:15 PMReply

    I'm gonna get torn apart for this what about Hans Zimmers score for Man of Steel?

  • Kate | December 19, 2013 7:54 PM

    Zimmer's Man of Steel score banked too much on the new theme he developed. And while that theme is actually really good, it nowhere near makes up for the lack of dynamic or even any kind of variance within the rest of the score. IMO, Zimmer's ego is the size of Alaska. He doesn't so much as score films as he tries to make his own huge statement, sometimes at the expense of the film itself.

  • Nick | December 16, 2013 8:22 PMReply

    M83's score for Oblivion should get a look in I would have thought?

  • Mark | December 14, 2013 1:56 PMReply

    Is the score to All Is Lost so good that it had to be listed at #5 and #7? haha

    And I really hope that Prisoners and Frozen find a way to make their ways onto this list come January. I don't get the fuss over 12 Years a Slave or Monsters University (the latter was just cheesy college anthems, and while delightful and complementary, it was nothing revolutionary or amazing in film-scoring).

  • davidkrow | December 12, 2013 5:03 PMReply

    They don't use it well in the film but "Man of Steel" I think is this years very best score.

  • JD | December 11, 2013 12:30 PMReply

    Rush or Gravity! Only God Forgives, Out of the Furnace and 12 years a Slave are top contenders as well. Granted, I have yet to see many of the Dec films yet though.

  • davidkrow | December 12, 2013 5:02 PM

    Only God Forgives is on a lot of other predictions lists for this category, the score is great.

  • BOO | December 9, 2013 9:50 PMReply

    But Gravity is winner. If you check Gold Derby no critics have Monsters University on. Frozen is even more likely.

  • Rob72 | December 9, 2013 7:21 PMReply

    I prefer Ennio Morricone's score for Tornatore's The Best Offer. It's exceptional. Close to perfect. Morricone already received the Italian Award and the European Film Award for this score. He is still a true master and, besides John Williams, the greatest living film composer. I hope his score will qualify for the oscar race (eligible list).

  • Serch | December 6, 2013 6:50 AMReply

    August: Osage County is scored by the boring Gustavo Sataolalla, not the great Burwell. ;)

  • Will | December 6, 2013 5:21 PM

    Carter Burwell has only done 1 great score, while Gustavo Sataolalla has done some of the most atmospherically haunting scores of all time. It's no wonder he's a two time Oscar winner.

  • Dan | December 5, 2013 8:25 AMReply

    Give it to Arcade Fire!!!

  • Aveeva | December 4, 2013 8:30 PMReply

    Musicals can't be nominated in this category can they?

  • AKA | December 2, 2013 3:00 PMReply

    Alex Heffes-Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom - wait till you hear it!

  • josh | November 29, 2013 4:23 PMReply

    Gravity's soundtrack 100% deserves to win in my opinion. It was completely mesmerising, totally original, full of variety and complemented each scene perfectly and enhanced the whole experience. Han Zimmer may be the bigger name, but I feel like his score for 12 years is very much a retread of past compositions.

  • Mark | November 28, 2013 6:13 PMReply

    Has no one else picked up on the similarity between the main theme from 12 Years and the chord progression which is the basis of "Time" in Inception? The score of 12 Years is indeed emotive, but the similarity ruins the idea of originality that should carry a composer to a win in this category. Zimmer's name shouldn't award him an automatic nomination. The Lion King got him his win, and rightfully so, because he hasn't come anywhere near that score with his other stuff.

    Before I realized that the choral track to Frozen ("Eatenmen Vuelie") was actually just an existing piece adapted for the film, my vote would have been for Christophe Beck. Otherwise, this has been an outrageously dull year for film scores.

  • Greg | March 4, 2014 1:15 AM

    Listen to 12 Years a Slave, Gravity, Inception (Time), and Sunshine (Adagio In D Minor). It's all the same score essentially. Odd.

  • Jordan | December 27, 2013 11:43 AM

    Mark, I'm with you. While watching 12 yeas a slave, my mind kept darting to inception because of the chord similarity. I haven't seen or heard of anyone talking about it----glad someone else picked it up.

  • Brett | November 27, 2013 12:04 AMReply

    Only God Forgives may not be a great film but it had a great score

  • Saoirse | November 27, 2013 12:02 AMReply

    I'm thinking this'll be Disney's year. "Frozen" will definitely get Best Song, and the Christophe Beck score is quite beautiful too, reminiscent of "Beauty and the Beast" and "The Little Mermaid."

  • JP | November 26, 2013 9:23 PMReply

    Am I the only one who believes that James Newton Howard deserves a nomination for 'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire'? While it's attached to a very commercial film, and the Academy usually steers clear of those (although that isn't always the case *cough* Lord of the Rings *cough*), it's a very diverse and quite beautiful score.

  • John | November 26, 2013 9:27 PM

    Not to mention the fact that the Academy nominated worse/flatter scores in the past.

  • Serch | November 21, 2013 3:00 AMReply

    Max Richter's score for The Congress is one of the most beautiful scores this year.

  • Mirko | November 17, 2013 1:57 PMReply

    Thomas Newman for Saving Mr Banks.

  • Brett | November 13, 2013 4:01 PMReply

    Where's Prisoners? That movie had an eerie and suspenseful score and I loved it!!

  • Mark | November 13, 2013 4:14 PM

    I agree. It's the only score I've cared about all year.

  • Brian | November 12, 2013 1:49 AMReply

    am I the only one in the world who found Hans Zimmer's score for Man of Steel amazing and epic and worthy of a nom?

  • Alex | November 20, 2013 11:55 AM

    The soundtrack was extremely popular with the public but got panned by critic for being 'too generic' etc.. I personally liked the score but I wouldn't be surprised if Mr. Zimmer only gets nominated for 12 Years a Slave.

  • BOO | November 11, 2013 10:28 AMReply

    Take Monsters University off

  • Serch | November 14, 2013 7:24 AM

    Totally agree with that.

  • Lars | November 8, 2013 7:01 AMReply

    John Williams should get nominated for "The Book Thief". His music is just much better than any other composer's out there. However, normally he is nominated for his Spielberg films (which always are big Oscar contenders), and the Academy tends to nominate music from Best Picture nominated films in most cases, so there's a risk that he won't get nominated this year (unless the film gets nominated). Be he definitely should, if you ask me.

    Other than that, I believe "Gravity" will win best music. It has a unique sound and works VERY well within the movie. I mean, we've seen Trent Reznor and A. R. Rahman win for "similar" scores in recent years, so why not?

  • paige | November 6, 2013 3:15 AMReply

    Only God Forgives has an amazing score. Think it should be in the running.

  • James | November 4, 2013 5:02 AMReply

    haha "The" Arcade Fire

  • Mexicano | November 2, 2013 4:37 PMReply


  • Jack Cox | October 31, 2013 3:26 PMReply

    No Chance for All is Lost's score? It's absolutely beautiful.

  • Sergi | October 28, 2013 2:23 PMReply

    Totaly agree with Nick. The Place beyond the Pines has one of the best scores this year. Also Korzeniowski's Escape from tomorrow. By the way, Carter Burwell appears on the list but he's been replaced by Gustavo Santaolalla in August: Osage County. What a shame.

  • Duke Poopington | October 28, 2013 1:55 PMReply

    The score to Captain Phillips was absolute garbage and it doesn't even deserve to be mentioned in awards talk. It's really unfortunate to see all of the hype around Gravity's score. It's a big, loud and ugly score until it's final five minutes where some listenable albeit unoriginal music comes into play. It wouldn't even be nominated if the film weren't so great. The Book Thief, judging from the samples, sounds pretty good. John Williams is always a guaranteed nominee but he's also guaranteed to lose. Randy Newman's Monster's University is okay, nothing special but it's better than Captain Phillips and Gravity.
    It's a shame fantastic scores like Jack the Giant Slayer and Planes (I know) don't ever get recognition. If they were attached to well received movies, they would have gotten a nomination.

  • Brittany | November 21, 2013 4:10 PM

    Totally agree about Gravity's score! Blech.

  • Brad | October 28, 2013 12:30 PMReply

    I know that they have a snowball's chance in hell but Only God Forgives and Escape From Tomorrow have had the best scores of the year easily.

  • Nick | October 25, 2013 10:13 PMReply

    How the heck is the score from "The Place Beyond the Pines" not on this list!

  • Nick | October 25, 2013 10:13 PMReply

    How the heck is the score from "The Place Beyond the Pines" not on this list!

  • Nick | October 25, 2013 10:13 PMReply

    How the heck is the score from "The Place Beyond the Pines" not on this list!

  • Nick | October 25, 2013 10:13 PMReply

    How the heck is the score from "The Place Beyond the Pines" not on this list!

  • Nick | October 25, 2013 10:13 PMReply

    How the heck is the score from "The Place Beyond the Pines" not on this list!

  • Debbie | October 23, 2013 7:25 AMReply

    Edit: Sorry, I meant won 'original song'. Randy Newman's scores are always so catchy and jazzy, they're so great too.

  • Debbie | October 23, 2013 7:22 AMReply

    At the moment, I am loving Zimmer's Rush score to bits, and would love to see it nominated. But I am looking forward to hearing how 12 Years a Slave sounds, because if that is also a major contender, I would be very curious to see how Zimmer's other works have been going this year (Nov 5th, I'm excited!). Gravity's score is just sensational tbh, I think it's just incredibly well and specifically composed for the screen, the more I listen to the score, I more I understand how intricately it was been composed. Just incredible stuff. I agree with a couple of the posts below, I thought the Prisoners' score was so suspenseful, but with the other contenders i.e. Thomas Newman (who needs an Oscar soon btw, I also hope the score for Saving Mr. Banks will be fantastic, which I have no doubt it will be), Zimmer, Williams, it is going to be quite competitive in this category this year. Would love to see Randy Newman nominated, but think that since he has already won an Oscar for Monsters Inc - and Monsters University has a quite similar style... so wouldn't mind seeing someone else equally deserving take a nom.

  • Brittany | November 21, 2013 4:12 PM

    LOVE Rush. Totally agree. I'm a huge Hans Zimmer fan, and I thought the Rush soundtrack and 12 Years a Slave soundtrack were both fantastic, so I'll be happy for him to get a nomination either way (or maybe for both!).

  • The Brady Critic | October 14, 2013 1:21 PMReply

    Will Win: 12 years of slave

    might win: Gravity

    should win: Gravity

  • Mark | October 1, 2013 9:54 PMReply

    Johann Johannsson's work with Prisoners should be much higher. It's a gigantic part of what made the film so effectively haunting, and no film I've seen this year has had such an effective and powerful score.

  • Zach | January 14, 2014 6:04 PM

    Could not agree more. The best score I heard this year.

  • Brett | September 25, 2013 10:19 AMReply

    I love Prisoners! That had an amazing and suspenseful score

  • Giamboni | September 22, 2013 4:42 PMReply

    And the Oscar goes to: Thomas Newman for Saving Mr Banks.

  • Mirko | September 20, 2013 11:18 AMReply

    The winner is Thomas Newman. She is composer of Saving Mr Banks and, besides she as eleven nominations and not victory.

  • John&Jodie | September 21, 2013 4:11 PM

    Did you know that Thomas Newman is a man? But other than that - you´re right... about time HE gets that golden man!

  • PDH | September 20, 2013 10:55 AMReply

    Have you thought of Shane Caruthe for "upstream color" The academy probably won't like the idea of more modern music vs classical as the basis for a film score, but it's unquestionable that it's an amazing score that is an integral part of the film.

  • JCS | September 19, 2013 4:34 PMReply

    What about Rick Smith and his music in Trance? It's really great.