Since merging Original Dramatic Score and Original Musical or Comedy Score back in 1999, animated films (which were considered comedy or musical by submission standards) have had a bit of a tough time finding footing in the single category of Original Score (comedies have all been blanked since the merge). 11 have been nominated since the merge. Seven came from Walt Disney or Pixar films, naturally (two of which won – 2009’s Up and 2020’s Soul), plus 2009’s Fantastic Mr. Fox from Alexandre Desplat, 2010’s How to Train Your Dragon from John Powell, 2011’s The Adventures of Tin Tin from John Williams and 2018’s Isle of Dogs, also from Desplat. This year has four animated contenders looking for a spot and possibly some Oscar history.
At the top of the list is most likely Daniel Pemberton for his vibrant score for Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. While he hasn’t gotten a nomination here yet, he was shortlisted for 2020’s The Trial of the Chicago 7, and did earn him an Original Song nod for the film. Walt Disney and Pixar have two shots here, with Elemental, Thomas Newman’s first ever Pixar score, and Disney’s Wish from David Metzger. While Metzger has previously worked in Disney TV and video properties this isn’t just his first Disney score, it’s his first theatrical feature film score as a composer period. On the opposite end of the spectrum lies Newman, who has received an astonishing 15 Oscar nominations between score and song but has yet to win. His father, Alfred Newman, was a 43-time nominee and 9-time Oscar winner. Finally we have Joe Hisaishi for The Boy and the Heron, from longtime collaborator Hayao Miyazaki, their first in a decade. While Miyazaki has been nominated three times since the inception of the Animated Feature Oscar (winning once, in the category’s second year for 2002’s Spirited Away) he hasn’t brought Hisaishi along with him…yet. While The Boy and the Heron is very competitive in its own race, reviews of Hisaishi’s score were as overwhelmingly positive as those for the film itself, and in some cases even more so. But how many can realistically make it in? Only once since the merge have two animated films gotten in the same year (2009) and while the competition is steep from top contenders like Oppenheimer and Killers of the Flower Moon, it’s possible. For now, we’re just looking at the shortlist and who we’ll find on there (not to mention the eligibility list before that). Then the real race begins.
The Oscar shortlists will be revealed on December 21, 2023. Oscar nominations will be announced on January 23, 2024 and the 96th Academy Awards will be held on March 10.
Here are my 2024 Oscar predictions for the 15-film shortlist in Original Score for October 2023.
- Oppenheimer – Ludwig Göransson (Universal Pictures)
- Killers of the Flower Moon – Robbie Robertson (Apple Original Films/Paramount Pictures)
- Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse – Daniel Pemberton (Sony Pictures)
- Elemental – Thomas Newman (Pixar)
- The Zone of Interest – Mica Levi (A24)
- Poor Things – Jerkin Hendrix (Searchlight Pictures)
- Asteroid City – Alexandre Desplat (Focus Features)
- The Society of the Snow – Michael Giacchino (Netflix)
- The Boy and the Heron – Joe Hisaishi (GKIDS)
- Past Lives – Christopher Bear and Daniel Rosen (A24)
- Rustin – Branford Marsalis (Netflix)
- Priscilla – Phoenix (A24)
- The Creator – Hans Zimmer (20th Century Studios)
- American Fiction – Laura Karpman (MGM)
- Wish – David Metzger (Walt Disney)
Next up: Barbie – Mark Ronson and Andrew Wyatt (Warner Bros), Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny – John Williams (Walt Disney), May December – Marcelo Zarvos (Netflix), NYAD – Alexandre Desplat (Netflix), Origin – Kris Bowers (NEON)
Other contenders: All of Us Strangers – Emilie Levienaise-Farrouch (Searchlight Pictures), The Color Purple – Kris Bowers (Warner Bros), Ferrari – Daniel Pemberton (NEON), Flora and Son – John Carney and Gary Clark (Apple Original Films), The Holdovers – Mark Orton (Focus Features), The Killer – Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross (Netflix), Napoleon – Martin Phipps (Apple Original Films/Sony Pictures), Saltburn – Anthony Willis (Amazon Studios), Wonka – Joby Talbot (Warner Bros)