The Academy played it safe in the nominations for this category, leaving out innovative scores from outside-the-establishment composers Jonny Greenwood ("The Master") and Dan Romer & Benh Zeitlin ("Beasts of the Southern Wild") -- the latter pair probably standing a good shot at winning had they actually been nominated. But in the wake of their snubs comes a very tight race, with one of the most nominated men in history (John Williams for "Lincoln," who at 48 nominations is the second most nominated person in Oscar history; he's won 5 already), going up against first timer Mychael Danna ("Life of Pi"), recent winner Dario Marianelli (nominated here for "Anna Karenina," and who won for another Joe Wright film, "Atonement," in 2008), and two men who have been nominated many times but have never won (Thomas Newman, getting his 11th nod for "Skyfall" and Alexandre Desplat, getting his 5th for "Argo").
Any of them could win, though it seems to be evolving into a three way race between Williams, Danna and Desplat. If "Argo" is indeed heading to a best picture win, they'll want to give it a few other awards too, and this is one of the more likely options (besides film editing, which "Argo" seems good to go for). Desplat being owed certainly helps the cause. But it's also the least memorable score here, and Desplat has definitely done better (arguably in two other 2012 films -- "Zero Dark Thirty" and "Moonrise Kingdom"). Williams and Danna, however, produced quite memorable work for "Lincoln" and "Life of Pi," respectively. Williams' restrained score is definitely his best in a long while, and while he does have five Oscars, it's been 20 years since his last. Danna, meanwhile, is an Oscar newbie (though he should have been here for "The Sweet Hereafter" and "Moneyball." Which is notable in that three of the past four winners in this category also won their first Oscar on their first nomination...
Nominees and predictions below. Check out all predictions in all the categories here, and this list of all the Oscar-nominated films available ON DEMAND right now.
"Anna Karenina" Dario Marianelli
"Argo" Alexandre Desplat
"Life of Pi" Mychael Danna
"Lincoln" John Williams
"Skyfall" Thomas Newman
Will win: "Life of Pi"
Could win: "Lincoln" or "Argo"
Should win: "Life of Pi"
Check out all predictions in all the categories here.