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Oscars 2020: Best Original Score Predictions

Vets from John Williams to dueling cousins Randy and Thomas Newman are challenging "Joker" rising star Hildur Gudnadóttir for the Oscar. Updated 2/6/20.

George MacKay as Schofield in "1917," the new epic from Oscar®-winning filmmaker Sam Mendes.


Photo Credit: Universal Pictures

Among the lauded composers vying for Oscars this year are the four who landed both Critics’ Choice and Golden Globe Best Score nominations. Challenging never-nominated frontrunner Hildur Guðnadóttir (“Joker”) are two-time Oscar winners Alexandre Desplat (“Little Women”) and Randy Newman (“Marriage Story”), who is dueling with his cousin Thomas Newman, long overdue with 14 nominations (World War I epic “1917”).

Icelandic cellist/composer Guðnadóttir’s unique experimental orchestral score for “Joker” tunes into the inner emotional struggles of the lead character, Arthur Fleck. The composer has been praised not only for inspiring Joaquin Phoenix’s performance, but recently took home an Emmy for her avant-garde score for HBO hit series “Chernobyl.” She’s the ninth woman to be nominated for Original Score (Rachel Portman has two nominations, one win), and would be the fourth to win. So far she has won the Globe, BAFTA and the CCA.

The sentimental vote could go to a Disney entry, John Williams’ score for late-breaking “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.” This could mark Williams’ last chance for another Oscar nomination; he may be hanging up his hat at age 87 (at least as far as “Star Wars” is concerned) after five wins and a record 52 Oscar nominations for a living person.

"Marriage Story"

“You Could Drive a Person Crazy” in “Marriage Story”


The final five contenders are listed below in order of their likelihood to win.

Hildur Guðnadóttir (“Joker”)

Thomas Newman (“1917”)
Randy Newman (“Marriage Story”)
Alexandre Desplat (“Little Women”)
John Williams (“Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker”)

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