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by Peter Knegt
February 19, 2013 5:15 PM
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2013 Oscar Predictions: Best Original Score

Indiewire will provide regular updates of our predictions for the 85th Academy Awards through February 24th, when the winners are announced.

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.

The nominees:
"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.

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  • monkeypox6 | April 18, 2013 6:11 PMReply

    How i think it should have been:

    1. Alexandre Desplat, "Argo"
    2. Thomas Newman, "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel"*(Runner-up)
    3. Mychael Danna, "Life of Pi"*(WINNER)
    4. John Williams, "Lincoln"
    5. Thomas Newman, "Skyfall"

  • monkeypox6 | April 15, 2013 11:25 PMReply

    How i think it should have been:

    1. Dario Marianelli, "Anna Karenina"
    2. Alexandre Desplat, "Argo"
    3. Mychael Danna, "Life of Pi"*(WINNER)
    4. John Williams, "Lincoln"*(Runner-up)
    5. Thomas Newman, "Skyfall"

  • Diana | February 24, 2013 8:49 PMReply

    Dario Marianelli is a musical genius. This article is ridiculously biased considering it lists Life of Pi for every single one of the categories. I loved the Life of Pi soundtrack, but there is almost no one who compares to Marianelli in thematic music and music which fits so well with the movie.

  • Cinema | February 24, 2013 12:05 PMReply

    It is so sad The Master and Beasts of The Southern Wild did not get noms here. There both had the best scores of the year.

  • Yohan | February 2, 2013 11:06 PMReply

    Anna Karenina should be considred as front runner. You should listen to Two Steps From hell (a score from the film) and I'm sure you'll reconsider it.

  • Matt Murdock | January 30, 2013 1:42 PMReply

    Oh my... You Indiewire guys are going nuts! There's zero chance of John Williams winning the Oscar here. I like him, obviously, but as pointed out before, his score here brings nothing new to the table. Williams' Oscar nod is what I'd call a "prestige" nomination... He's got a nomination because he's John Williams scoring a big Spielberg film!

    Life of Pi is the obvious favorite. If it doesn't win, Desplat will for Argo (i know i know, it's not his best work, its not the best score here, but it IS pretty good, and it might win due to the general love for the film.)

  • Julien Brunet | January 10, 2013 9:28 AMReply

    Is it a joke? Allo guys The Dark Knight Rises by Hans Zimmer!!!! We are talking about "original" score. Damn it!

  • Julien Brunet | January 10, 2013 9:28 AMReply

    Is it a joke? Allo guys The Dark Knight Rises by Hans Zimmer!!!! We are talking about "original" score. Damn it!

  • Daniel | January 9, 2013 1:07 PMReply

    Desplat should be nominated for Zero Dark Thirty or Rise of the Guardians instead of Argo. And Newman for Skyfall.

  • Shelshock | January 9, 2013 1:14 AMReply

    Danna all the way. Pi's score was beautifully composed. When listening to the music I can see images from the film rolling in my mind's eye. Howard Shore also deserves a nod for The Hobbit (although I'm sure the academy is over LOTR-like music). William's score in Lincoln was nothing great, but will surely get a nom. anyway. Cloud Atlas and Beasts of the Southern Wild will also be contenders. I believe Danna holds the Oscar by the ears, however. Literally.

  • Smith | January 12, 2013 10:05 PM

    Wow! I couldn't agree more. Pi's score is so so so beautiful. When I listen to it, I literally feel like my heart gets warm. It flawlessly blends with the overall beautiful film.

  • Ignatius J Reilly | January 8, 2013 2:20 PMReply

    Was the Silver Linings Playbook score really not good? Or am I crazy in liking it? Perhaps I like the movie itself a bit too much.

  • Ignatius J Reilly | January 8, 2013 2:20 PMReply

    Was the Silver Linings Playbook score really not good? Or am I crazy in liking it? Perhaps I like the movie itself a bit too much.

  • Ignatius J Reilly | January 8, 2013 2:19 PMReply

    Was the Silver Linings Playbook score really not good? Or am I crazy in liking it? Perhaps I like the movie itself a bit too much.

  • Martin | January 8, 2013 8:03 AMReply

    Check out my last predictions in the Aural categories at

  • Martin | January 8, 2013 6:54 AMReply

    It's Gustavo Santaolalla, not Santoallalo, more info at

  • Mark | January 7, 2013 11:32 PMReply

    John Williams shouldn't be here. He recycles ideas in all of his movies , and the score of "Lincoln" is no exception ("Memoirs of a Geisha" and the "Prisoner of Azkaban" were the only things he composed recently, as in the 2000s, that I genuinely thought were impressive and a step towards development in his composing). The Academy needs to acknowledge composers that do something innovative and original. "Cloud Atlas" and "Life of Pi" are the only two movies that have satisfied that criteria this year.

  • ali | January 7, 2013 6:27 AMReply

    i think there will be tough fight between "anna karenina" and "beasts of the southern wild".

  • ^_^ | January 7, 2013 4:30 AMReply


  • Erik | January 7, 2013 1:26 AMReply

    Over the past couple of years the Academy usually gives this award to which ever top 5-8 'best picture' is in the running. And it's usually the top 5 best picture nominations that are in the running for this category which is stupid. It's like when Social Network won over Inception for score. Social Network played one or two of the same notes almost throughout the entire film. Inception was a better score but didn't win because Social Network was a better movie.
    I think The Dark Knight Rises (Just listen to the track 'Rise' on the soundtrack) should get a nomination because it was great and very emotional. But the one movie that had the most original and was better than the others was Cloud Atlas. That should easily get a nod and the win. I haven't seen Zero Dark Thirty yet. The music in Life of Pi was really good. The Hobbit's score was great but besides the Lonely Mountain theme it was all the same from the LOTR trilogy.

  • Mark | January 7, 2013 11:27 PM

    Agreed, except the "How to Train Your Dragon" score was the most superior Original Score nomination of 2010 and honestly the deserved winner, in my opinion. But I also agree that "Cloud Atlas" more than deserves the win this year.

  • Juan | January 4, 2013 2:28 AMReply

    Cloud Atlas.

  • beebeefel09 | January 3, 2013 4:06 PMReply

    Don't count "Hobbit" out. It's probably guaranteed a spot considering Howard Shore's track record for nominations.

    Of course Williams is going to be nominated and rightfully so; "Lincoln" is one of the best scores of the year (in it's CD representation atleast).

  • ^_^ | January 1, 2013 7:41 PMReply

    i think the 3 possible contenders are : 1. SKFALL 2. RISE OF THE GUARDIANS 3.FRANKENWEENIE :-)

  • Van" | December 31, 2012 1:59 AMReply

    I really loved Hans Zimmer's score for th Dark Knight Rises. It is really amazing. True, that TDKR score is nearly the same as the 2 previous movies but he add a few new songs like "Why do we fall and Mind if I cut in?", and some of the score are even more amazing when he add a little synthesizer. It's still beautiful in my ears. So, I think that it's okay that he wasn't nominated for Oscar but he actually deserve it. But luckily he's still nominated for Grammy for TDKR.

    I'm really glad that Alexandre Desplat is nominated for the Rise of Guardian. His score is very very beautiful there. I really love it. (Sorry for bad English)

  • Darwin | December 24, 2012 12:43 PMReply

    Why isn't Cloud Atlas on this list?

  • eugenia fava | December 26, 2012 9:05 PM

    just listened to the music from cloud atlas, it's new and exciting' loved it

  • BOO | December 19, 2012 11:18 AMReply

    I'm glad that Beasts and The Master are being recognized. But I think Alexandre Desplat deserves a nomination too. In my opinion it would be over Lincoln. And all the fanboys need to stop obsessing over Hans Zimmer.

  • Joshuwajimer | December 16, 2012 8:05 PMReply

    Hans zimmer's score for TDKR is spectacular and deserves to be nominated!

  • Joshuwajimer | December 16, 2012 8:04 PMReply

    Um the dark knight rises?

  • Ross | December 16, 2012 12:13 PMReply

    The Hobbit is 10 times better than everything else this year put together. Howard Shore has transcended the need to create a great score, and has given us one of the most beautiful and fitting scores in motion picture history (rivalled only by John Williams' work on Star Wars). The LOTR & Hobbit scores are every inch as epic and moving as the movies. Theees a reason he won Best original score twice for for LOTR.

  • name | December 14, 2012 7:16 PMReply

    I have not yet this year heard a score comparable to Howard Shore's beautiful music

  • John | January 6, 2013 5:41 PM

    But of course. He's the master.

  • Mike Da Lucca | December 13, 2012 4:14 AMReply

    I would also add "The impossible" by Fernando Velázquez. Powerful and one of the best melodies of 2012. Depending on how the film works, it should also be on the short list as the outsider

  • BOO | December 11, 2012 9:58 AMReply

    Get Lincoln off of here, the score was kind of average in my opinion, and put on The Master and make sure Beasts is nominated. Just my opinion. Not what's right.

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  • Bauggs | December 10, 2012 7:19 PMReply

    Moonrise Kingdom is great, but the score was ruled ineligible.

  • Cody | December 9, 2012 10:23 PMReply

    Where is Hans Zimmer's for Dark Knight Rises?

  • Serch | December 7, 2012 8:47 AMReply

    Beasts of the Southern Wild is this year's best.

  • Forrest | December 7, 2012 4:37 AMReply

    1. Life of Pi 2. The Hobbit 3. Moonrise Kingdom 4. Cloud Atlas 5. Dark Knight Rises

  • Jason | December 6, 2012 5:35 PMReply

    I love Beasts of the Southern Wild's Score! It's so beautiful and motivational. I would like to see it win.

  • Tony | December 5, 2012 5:28 PMReply

    It will be John Williams for "Lincoln"

  • BOO | November 26, 2012 12:49 PMReply

    Zero Dark Thirty might get one, giving Alexandre Desplat probably 2 nominations and unlikely but maybe even 3.

  • Juan | November 25, 2012 2:48 PMReply

    I've got to say Moonrise Kingdom makes no sense being here. It's a beautifully put together SOUNDTRACK, but considering Desplat only wrote five pieces of music for the film, it's absolutely ridiculous to see him here for it. The film relies on a surprising amount of other music, and especially Leonard Bernstein/Benjamin Britten's The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra.

    The rule specifically states: "To be eligible, the original score must be a substantial body of music that serves as original dramatic underscoring, and must be written specifically for the motion picture by the submitting composer. Scores diluted by the use of tracked themes or other preexisting music, diminished in impact by the predominant use of songs, or assembled from the music of more than one composer shall not be eligible."

    I'd definitely say that Desplat's score isn't all that memorable compared to the use of preexisting music in Moonrise. You've got the performances by the Choir of Downside School, Purley (of which I'd say brings the film's most memorable piece - Songs From Friday Afternoons, Op. 7: Cuckoo!), three pieces from Noye's Fludde, the previously mentioned Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra, two Hank Williams songs, and that wonderfully catchy Francoise Hardy song.

    I stand by the nomination for Argo, but Moonrise? Not one bit. I'd much rather see it replaced with Greenwood (The Master) or Tykwer/Hell/Kilmek (who I'd say delivered the best original piece of the year with The Cloud Atlas Sextet for Orchestra).

  • Lizzie | December 6, 2012 7:21 PM

    I guess you could say the same for Cold Mountain - Gabriel Yared only wrote 4 pieces of music for the film, and he got nominated. There were a LOT of other songs used for the film too. I adore Yared's score, it is beautiful and my favourite of that year (2004), so who knows?

  • Mark | November 23, 2012 11:30 PMReply

    Why has "Cloud Atlas" yet to be listed in the predicted 5? No other film I've seen this year has had a score that functioned so well in the movie, except maybe "Moonrise Kingdom" (which is and has been listed, so no griping there) and "Brave." I actually sat in the movie theater for 7 minutes following the end of "Cloud Atlas" so I could relish the final minutes of the score. I really hope the Academy doesn't turn a blind eye to what was truly a moving original score. Credit needs to be given where credit is due, and though the shortcomings of "Cloud Atlas" are many by the public eye, its score should most certainly NOT be considered one of them.

  • Robert | November 21, 2012 11:11 AMReply

    Why are you not considering the score for The Dark Knight Rises. It amplified the tone of the film, it was well paced, and, in my opinion, one of the best soundtracks of the year. Plus all the lost nominations and wins for Hans Zimmer, he deserves this one (or at least a nomination).

  • daniel | November 21, 2012 10:32 AMReply

    Surely you have to give Jonny Greenwood for The Master a certain nomination? Even an idiot academy member can see that's a fantastic score.

  • Doug | January 29, 2013 6:46 AM

    Ha,...Greenwood created an original, fitting and undeniable beautiful score for the master. Anyone with fully functional hearing wouldn't hesitate to at the very least nominate it. So of course the academy won't nominate it. They would prefer John Williams recycled score over something unique and progressive.

  • Doug | January 29, 2013 6:45 AM

    Ha,...Greenwood created an original, fitting and undeniable beautiful score for the master. Anyone with fully functional hearing wouldn't hesitate to at the very least nominate it. So of course the academy won't nominate it. They would prefer John Williams recycled score over something unique and progressive.

  • BOO | November 20, 2012 7:01 PMReply

    Lincoln barley even had a score and it wasn't groundbreaking

  • hey | November 15, 2012 7:32 PMReply

    Parts of The Hobbit soundtrack has been released, for example at Amazon under mp3 downloads. Listen to it and tell me it won't win.

  • LoveForBuzz | November 14, 2012 4:51 PMReply

    Reinhold Hell, Johnny Kilmek & Tom Tyker should definitely get nominated and probably win for "Cloud Atlas". I love Hans Zimmer, I really do, and think he should get nominated, and probably should have won for "Inception"; however, "Cloud Atlas" was one of the most beautiful amazing scores ever! Ever! And a great film overall. Excited to see the other films to check out the scores.

  • jose martinez | November 7, 2012 9:34 PMReply

    Brave is going to get it!!!!!!!!!

  • Eric T. | November 6, 2012 1:09 PMReply

    The Lord of the Rings won 3 Music Oscars. Howard Shore should be a favorite to get a nomination if not win.

  • Frank | January 6, 2013 5:46 PM

    Two Towers wasn't nominated for Best Original Score. A rule preventing a score with music from a previously released score from being nominated was in place, but was then overturned in time for Return of the King to dominate everybody. And I hope the Hobbit at least gets a nom.

  • Eric T. | December 14, 2012 9:47 AM

    I was talking about the Best Original Song Oscar for Return of the King. Even though it wasn't for Score, it was still Howard Shore

  • | December 6, 2012 7:31 PM

    Two Towers didn't win the Oscar - it was nominated, though.

  • Serch | November 6, 2012 9:16 AMReply

    The score for The Dark Knight Rises is OK, but almost the same he did for the previous 2. Don't think Zimmer deserves a nomination.

  • Linda | November 5, 2012 7:42 PMReply

    What does Indiewire think of the totally independent romantic comedy sleeper, "Halloween Party" with six songs vying for the honor?

  • Gian Franco | November 3, 2012 5:04 PMReply

    The Dark Knight Rises By Hans Zimmer, Is The Best Soundtrack Of 2013, INJUSTICE¡¡¡¡¡¡¡

  • Gian Peña | November 3, 2012 5:02 PMReply

    THE DARK KNIGHT RISES by HANS ZIMMER, is the best soundtrack of 2013¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¡

  • F. Khan | November 3, 2012 9:02 AMReply

    hans zimmer should be at the top of this list. and why the hell is dark knight rises not in the predicted five more, it should be there for a lot of the categories, i sure hope when the nominations come out on jan 10th tdkr is up there more.

  • Joe | November 2, 2012 6:13 PMReply

    There's no way in hell Cloud Atlas doesn't get nominated for this. It's one of the most beautiful scores I have ever heard and was completely vital to the film. Rarely have I heard score used so well to manipulate audience emotions.

  • william | November 1, 2012 10:42 PMReply

    where the watermelon fuck is the dark knight rises??

  • Tommy Wiseau | October 31, 2012 2:55 PMReply

    While I loved the music from "Moonrise Kingdom", I would replace it on this list with "Cloud Atlas." I just think the music for it was beautiful.

  • Sam | October 29, 2012 4:22 PMReply

    What able Alan Menken for Mirror Mirror. I know that the movie didn't really do well, but the music is great.. check out the OST.

  • Brandon miller | October 27, 2012 12:16 AMReply

    I am sick and tired of not seeing Prometheus on any of these front runner lists, I know it was really in the year but its a masterpiece! The score? Should be nom. Fassbender as David. A clear front runner, and also Noomi rapace should get a nom for best actress. Cinematography was crystal. Special effects is a clear winner. And best original screenplay nom although idk whether it should be original or adapted since it being part of the alien franchise? But I conclude, what the fuck? And btw the master was god awful, Argo was good but in no way a best pic winner, perhaps director, but if you ask me, Oscar nom owes Nolan. But in the end.... I think it will come down to cloud atlas and life of pi. Tarantino will come short again and flight will get like ten noms and not win.

  • spassky | December 11, 2012 12:38 PM

    spoken like someone who truly has no idea what they are talking about.

  • jim | October 24, 2012 3:56 PMReply

    I don't even like fantasy films like The Lord of the Rings, but how can Howard Shore not win for the best score? His music is amazing! Long shot indeed!

  • Zane | October 24, 2012 2:25 AMReply

    Hans Zimmer should be nomination for The Dark Knight Rises, John Williams might be nominated again for Lincoln but I would root for Hans

  • Lee | October 21, 2012 10:13 AMReply

    If you think Howard Shore is a long shot for just a nomination then you are not very educated on Film Scores. He won 3 alone for The Lord of the Rings. He will definitely be nominated, and will most likely win as well.

  • Kyle Gilmour | October 20, 2012 10:33 AMReply

    Worst list ever. Hans Zimmer is not even on there. He truly deserves this oscar.

  • Chaps | October 18, 2012 4:37 PMReply

    Wheres Hans Zimmer!?!?!? I NEED ANSWERS

  • Iago | October 14, 2012 8:38 PMReply

    The Hobbit is a "longer shot". This is nonsense!

  • jose martinez | October 13, 2012 1:40 AMReply

    i am really looking foward to BRAVE...Patrick did an amazing job.

  • Heydoo | October 10, 2012 4:58 PMReply

    COME ON! Has anyone here heard what Howard Shore is capable of? If The Hobbit is going to win only one Oscar it WILL be best score. Go listen to Shore's work if you doubt me.

  • Stephanie | October 10, 2012 10:40 AMReply

    I support Johnny Greenwood... I LOVE that score!!

  • BOO | October 9, 2012 2:48 PMReply

    Come on. The Master had an awesome score. I hope they will nominate Johnny Greenwood but it's unlikely. Also it might increase his chances since he wasn't eligible in 2007.

  • bss121 | October 9, 2012 10:22 AMReply

    I know it probably won't get recognized, but in my opinion the Beasts of the Southern Wild score is BY FAR the most original and powerful score I've heard in years.

  • Nick | October 9, 2012 8:32 AMReply

    I'd love Johnny Greenwood to win...

  • raul | October 9, 2012 7:00 AMReply

    where is hans zimmer for TDKR

  • raul | October 9, 2012 6:58 AMReply

    where is hans zimmer for (the dark knight rises)