A handful of scores from major releases were revealed as ineligible ahead of the official list from the Academy (reported by Variety) largely based on BAFTA submissions including Terence Blanchard’s One Night in Miami, Mark Isham and Craig Harris’ score for Judas and the Black Messiah, Nicolas Becker and Abraham Marder’s score for Sound of Metal and Kris Bowers’ score for The United States vs Billie Holiday. Reasons for score ineligibility range from amount of score in the film (there is a 60% threshold) to how collaborations between more than one composer happened to a film that uses too much existing music or songs.
The one potential hangup in this category remains to be the score for Soul and if only Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross will be eligible or if Jon Batiste, who composed all of the original jazz pieces in the film, will be on the official Academy list. Disney has Batiste on their official FYC page for the film and he made the cut for BAFTA, but they’ve disagreed with the Oscars before, especially in how collaborations are recognized. The music branch has historically shown a very arbitrary adherence to its own rules. Too much existing music or songs can disqualify a film, or if a film uses a piece of music that’s too familiar (like Arrival using Max Richter’s “On the Nature of Daylight”) and then allowing the Gustavo Santaolalla score for 2007’s Babel in even though the majority of was previously released material. Not only did it get nominated, it won. We’ll see how the branch decides when the Oscar shortlists are announced on February 9.
Here are my ranked 2021 Oscar predictions in Original Score for January.
Green – moves up; Red – moves down; Blue – new entry this month
1. Soul (Pixar)
Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross (and Jon Batiste, if eligible)
2. Mank (Netflix)
Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross
3. News of the World (Universal Pictures)
James Newton Howard
4. Da 5 Bloods (Netflix)
5. Minari (A24)
6. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (Netflix)
7. The Midnight Sky (Netflix)
8. Tenet (Warner Bros)
9. The Life Ahead (Netflix)
10. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (Netflix)
Volker Bertelmann and Dustin O’Halloran
Hillbilly Elegy (Netflix)
David Fleming and Hans Zimmer
Let Them All Talk (HBO Max)
Over the Moon (Netflix)
Image courtesy of Walt Disney Company