Sat. Sep 26th, 2020

2020 Oscar Nomination Predictions: ORIGINAL SCORE and ORIGINAL SONG (September)

JOKER (Photo: Warner Bros Entertainment / Niko Tavernise)

The top three in Original Score remains the same this month, with two Oscar winners (John Williams and Alexandre Desplat) and now the most-nominated living person without a win, Thomas Newman with Universal’s 1917 this year. Newman has an incredible 14 Academy Award nominations for his film compositions but has never managed to close the deal. In just the last few years, we saw two artists with decades of work and more than a dozen nominations apiece finally secure the gold: Cinematographer Roger Deakins (who won for 2017’s Blade Runner 2049) and sound designer Kevin O’Connell (who for for 2016’s Hacksaw Ridge).

New this month are two breathtaking scores; the first is Hildur Guðnadóttir for her mesmerizing compositions in Warner Bros Venice winner Joker, whose work has been singled out in most reviews as haunting and unforgettable. Next is the surprising work from Randy Newman in Netflix’s Marriage Story. Newman is a 20-time Oscar nominee and a two-time winner. An obvious Academy favorite, Newman has never won for an original score and hasn’t been nominated in the category since they merged comedy and drama into one. With Marriage Story being a Best Picture frontrunner and the score for it unlike anything else Newman has done, he’s a surefire nominee and a potential winner.

I’m also keeping my eye out for 8-time nominee James Newton Howard with his score for Terrence Malick’s A Hidden Life. Depending on how Fox Searchlight is able to levy the TIFF People’s Choice win for Jojo Rabbit against the critical drubbing it got, Howard may emerge as a top contender. Speaking of Jojo Rabbit, it’s scored by Oscar winner Michael Giacchino (Pixar’s Up) so he’s no slouch here either.

I’m torn on Waves and if it will be eligible or not (we’ll know in a few months). It’s from Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, two-time nominees and winners for 2010’s A Social Network, but I wonder if the Academy will find that the film has too many songs that override the impact of the original score, which incidentally, is phenomenal. Another potential eligibility issue comes with Ad Astra, which was revealed to have additional music added to Max Richter’s score by Lorne Balfe. That’s been a disqualifier in the past, as the music branch requires two composers to work together on a score. We’ll see how that shakes out.

Here are my 2020 Oscar Nomination Predictions in Original Score for September 17, 2019.

Green – moves up Red – moves down Blue – new/re-entry

1. 1917 (Thomas Newman) Universal
2. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (John Williams) Disney
3. Little Women (Alexandre Desplat) Sony/Columbia
4. Joker (Hildur Guðnadóttir) Warner Bros
5. Marriage Story (Randy Newman) Netflix

NEXT UP (alphabetical by film)

The Farewell (Alex Weston) A24
Harriet (Terence Blanchard) Focus Features
A Hidden Life (James Newton Howard) Fox Searchlight
The Irishman (Robbie Robertson) Netflix
Jojo Rabbit (Michael Giacchino) Fox Searchlight

OTHER CONTENDERS (alphabetical by film)

Ad Astra (Max Richter with additional music by Lorne Balfe) 20th Century Fox
The Aeronauts (Steven Price) Amazon
Avengers: Endgame (Alan Silvestri) Disney
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (Nate Heller) Sony/TriStar
Bombshell (Theodore Shapiro) Lionsgate
Dark Waters (TBD) Focus Features
Downton Abbey (John Lun) Focus Features
Ford v. Ferrari (Marco Beltrami) 20th Century Fox
The Good Liar (Carter Burwell) Warner Bros
How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World (John Powell) Dreamworks
The King (Nicholas Britell) Netflix
The Last Black Man in San Francisco (Emile Mosseri) A24
Monos (Mica Levi) Neon
Motherless Brooklyn (Daniel Pemberton) Warner Bros
The Two Popes (Bryce Dessner) Netflix
Waves (Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross) A24


Ad Astra (Max Richter with additional music by Lorne Balfe) 20th Century Fox
The Lion King (Hans Zimmer) Disney
Us (Michael Abel) Universal
Waves (Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross) A24

HARRIET (Courtesy of Focus Features)

With Harriet having an original song, sung and co-written by its star Cynthia Erivo, we have a new entry in the top 5 this month and it feels like a sure bet to replicate what Mary J. Blige did two years ago with Mudbound – be the first person nominated for a song and performance from the same film in the same year – and maybe what Lady Gaga did the following year with A Star Is Born, be nominated for both and win Original Song.

I’m counting on Disney to be able to fill a lot of the eventual 15-title shortlist of original song contenders come December with Frozen II, The Lion King, Aladdin and Toy Story 4 but is that surplus flooding the market? With Cats coming in with an original song (possibly two), Elton John returning to Oscar with an original song from the bio-musical of his life (Rocketman) and the always-nominated Diane Warren with her song from the modest hit and faith-based film Breakthrough (the Meryl Streep of this category, sans wins), it’s going to be a competitive year.

Here are my 2020 Oscar Nomination Predictions in Original Song for September 17, 2019.

Green – moves up Red – moves down Blue – new/re-entry

1. Frozen II – “Into the Unknown” (Disney)
2. Toy Story 4 – “The Ballad of the Lonesome Cowboy” (Disney/Pixar)
3. Rocketman – “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again”
4. The Lion King – “Spirit” (Disney)
5. Harriet, “Stand Up” (Focus Features)

NEXT UP (alphabetical by film)

Aladdin – “Speechless”
Breakthrough – “I’m Standing with You”
Cats – TBA (Universal)
The Lion King – “Never Too Late”
Toy Story 4 – “The Ballad of the Lonesome Cowboy” (Disney/Pixar)

OTHER CONTENDERS (alphabetical by film)

Alita: Battle Angel – “Swan Song” (20th Century Fox)
Always Be My Maybe – “I Punched Keanu Reeves” (Netflix)
Charlie’s Angels – “Don’t Call Me (Angel) (Sony)
The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part – “Catchy Song” (Warner Bros)
Missing Link – “Do-Dilly-Do (A Friend Like You)”
Motherless Brooklyn, “Daily Battles”
Toy Story 4, “I Can’t Let You Throw Yourself Away” (Disney/Pixar)
Wild Rose – “Glasgow (No Place Like Home)” (Neon)

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