Oscars Predictions: Original Score – Could John Williams Become the Oldest Competitive Oscar Winner in Academy History?

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LAST UPDATED: Dec. 22, 2022

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2023 Oscars Predictions: Best Original Score

Harry Styles Don't worry darling
Harry Styles Don’t Worry Darling

CATEGORY COMMENTARY: There were a few surprises with the announced Oscars shortlist for best original score.

The former winners in the running have the upper hand at the moment such as John Williams (“The Fabelmans”), Hildur Guðnadóttir (“Women Talking”) and Alexandre Desplat (“Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio”).

With 52 Oscar nominations, Williams is already the second most-nominated individual after Walt Disney (and the oldest living person), who had 59 nods. With some of the most notable and recognizable musical movie scores ever, Williams has won five Oscars over his impressive career: “Fiddler on the Roof” (1971), “Jaws” (1976), “Star Wars” (1977), “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” (1982) and “Schindler’s List” (1993). At 90, should he win, he would become the oldest winner in any competitive Oscar category, surpassing James Ivory, who was 89 when he won adapted screenplay for “Call Me by Your Name” (2017).

In contrast, former nominees like Terence Blanchard (“The Woman King”) and Carter Burwell (“The Banshees of Inisherin”) have momentum that could bring either of them to the forefront.

Two women were included in the lineup: Chanda Dancy’s “Devotion,” who could be the first Black woman ever nominated in the category, and Guðnadóttir, who would be the first woman to win the category twice (winner for 2019’s “Joker”). This comes after the latter’s work from “Tár” was disqualified by the Academy.

“All Quiet on the Western Front” asserted itself as Netflix’s leading awards contender with its strong showing across the board, including Volker Bertelmann’s bombastic and tense musical chords. Nathan Johnson, the cousin to writer and director Rian Johnson, was able to make it onto the shortlist with “Glass Onion,” the sequel to “Knives Out.”

The composers also “branched” out (no pun intended) with names we initially suspected they would pass on such as Son Lux’s “Everything Everywhere All at Once” and Michael Abels’ “Nope.”

And then there are films like “Don’t Worry Darling” with John Powell on the ticket, whose career has produced only a single Oscar nod for “How to Train Your Dragon” (2011), despite worthy endeavors such as “Shrek” (2001) and “United 93” (2006). A second career mention could be possible.

It was disheartening not to see Michael Giacchino’s visceral “The Batman,” Emilie Levienaise-Farrouch’s beautiful “Living” and M.M. Keeravaani’s epic and upbeat “RRR” not be among the composers in the running. Still, other nods will hopefully come their way in the future.

See the latest film predictions, in all 23 categories, in one place on Variety’s Oscars Collective. To see the ranked predictions for each individual category, visit Variety’s Oscars Hub.

See the 2022-2023 Awards Season calendar for all key dates and timelines.

ALL AWARDS CONTENDERS AND RANKINGS:

Kathryn Kendall (as Miramax Executive) in SHE SAID, directed by Maria Schrader.
Kathryn Kendall (as Miramax Executive) in SHE SAID, directed by Maria Schrader.

And The Predicted Nominees Are:

Rank

Film

Composer(s)

Distributor

1

“The Fabelmans”

John Williams

Universal Pictures

A semi-autobiography based on Spielberg’s own childhood growing up in post-war Arizona, from age seven to eighteen.

2

“Women Talking”

Hildur Guðnadóttir

MGM/United Artists Releasing

A group of women in an isolated religious colony as they struggle to reconcile their faith with a string of sexual assaults committed by the colony’s men.

3

“The Woman King”

Terence Blanchard

Sony Pictures

A historical epic inspired by the true events that happened in The Kingdom of Dahomey, one of the most powerful states of Africa in the 18th and 19th centuries.

4

“Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio”

Alexandre Desplat

Netflix

A darker version of the classic children’s fairy tale of a wooden puppet that transforms into a real living boy.

5

“The Banshees of Inisherin”

Carter Burwell

Searchlight Pictures

Two lifelong friends find themselves at an impasse when one abruptly ends their relationship, with alarming consequences for both of them.

Next in Line

6

“Babylon”

Justin Hurwitz

Paramount Pictures

Set in Hollywood during the transition from silent films to talkies, focusing on a mixture of historical & fictional characters.

7

“Devotion”

Chanda Dancy

Sony Pictures

A pair of U.S. Navy fighter pilots risk their lives during the Korean War and become some of the Navy’s most celebrated wingmen.

8

“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever”

Ludwig Göransson

Marvel Studios

The people of Wakanda fight to protect their home from intervening world powers as they mourn the death of King T’Challa.

9

“Don’t Worry Darling”

John Powell

Warner Bros

A 1950s housewife living with her husband in a utopian experimental community begins to worry that his glamorous company could be hiding disturbing secrets.

10

“Nope”

Michael Abels

Universal Pictures

The residents of a lonely gulch in inland California bear witness to an uncanny and chilling discovery.

Other Top-Tier Contenders

11

“Everything Everywhere All at Once”

Son Lux

A24

12

“All Quiet on the Western Front”

Volker Bertelmann

Netflix

13

“Avatar: The Way of Water”

Simon Franglen

20th Century Studios

14

“She Said”

Nicholas Britell

Universal Pictures

15

“Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery”

Nathan Johnson

Netflix

2023 Academy Awards Predictions

BEST PICTURE | DIRECTOR | ACTOR | ACTRESS | SUPPORTING ACTOR | SUPPORTING ACTRESS | ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY | ADAPTED SCREENPLAY | ANIMATED FEATURE | PRODUCTION DESIGN | CINEMATOGRAPHY | COSTUME DESIGN | FILM EDITING | MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING | SOUND | VISUAL EFFECTS | ORIGINAL SCORE | ORIGINAL SONG | DOCUMENTARY FEATURE | INTERNATIONAL FEATURE | ANIMATED SHORT | DOCUMENTARY SHORT | LIVE ACTION SHORT

The 95th Oscars ceremony will be held at the Dolby Theatre and televised live on ABC on Sunday, March 12, 2023.

2022 category winner: “Dune” (Warner Bros.) – Hans Zimmer

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Variety’s unmatched coverage gives its readership unbeatable exposure in print and online and provides inside reports on all the contenders in this year’s awards season races. In addition to predictions, the section includes — Awards Circuit Column, a weekly analysis dissecting the trends and contenders in the race; Awards Circuit Podcast, a weekly series featuring interviews with the top contenders in the awards race and an expert roundtable discussion with Variety’s leading editors and columnists; Awards Circuit Predictions Video Series, a deep dive into specific categories, led by the leading pundits.

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