Oscar Predictions: Best Original Score – Could Danny Elfman’s Score for ‘White Noise’ Bring Him an Overdue Statuette?

Variety Awards Circuit section is the home for all awards news and related content throughout the year, featuring the following: the official predictions for the upcoming Oscars, Emmys, Grammys and Tony awards ceremonies, curated by Variety senior awards editor Clayton Davis. The prediction pages are Davis’ assessment of the current standings of the race and do not reflect personal preferences for any film or performance. Like any organization or body that votes, each individual category is fluid and subject to change. Predictions are updated every Thursday.

LAST UPDATED: Oct. 6, 2022

2023 Oscars Predictions: Best Original Score

Empire of Light

“Empire of Light” (Searchlight Pictures) Photo courtesy of Searchlight Pictures. © 2022 20th Century Studios All Rights Reserved.

CATEGORY COMMENTARY:

Another lively and grandiose music composition from four-time nominee Danny Elfman and an original song, “New Body Rhumba” from LCD Soundsystem, bookends Noah Baumbach’s “White Noise.” Elfman has been a cinephile favorite in the world of composers, assembling four Oscar noms throughout his career — “Good Will Hunting” (1997), “Men in Black” (1997), “Big Fish” (2003) and “Milk” (2008) — with no statuette yet to be won. An overdue narrative could do wonders for him, similar to Ennio Morricone’s winning run for “The Hateful Eight” (2015), despite the film missing out on key noms.

Could he finally have his shot at the gold?

As confirmed by Focus Features to Variety, Oscar-winner Hildur Guðnadóttir’s (“Joker”) music from Todd Field’s “Tár” does qualify for the upcoming Academy Awards. With a strong bet with her other work “Women Talking” from Sarah Polley, Guðnadóttir could become the first woman ever to receive two nominations in the same year for original score.

For a score to qualify, a film must feature music written specifically for the film by the submitting composer. Some pre-existing music is allowed by a contending film must include a minimum of 60% original music in order to qualify.

Also double-dipping this year is Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross with “Empire of Light” and “Bones and All.” Will they cancel each other out or will the Academy find room for one or both of the works?

Composer John Williams is a legend in every facet of the music world. Aside from winning 25 Grammys and five Oscars, he is undoubtedly the most important musical artist living today. Tapped for Steven Spielberg’s personal semi-autobiographical film “The Fabelmans,” he adds another great composition to his already impressive resume. If nominated, at 90 years old he would surpass costume designer Ann Roth and documentarian Agnes Varda as the oldest nominee, of any competitive Oscar category, in history.

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.

ALL AWARDS CONTENDERS AND RANKINGS:

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 “White Noise” Danny Elfman Netflix
Dramatizes a contemporary American family’s attempts to deal with the mundane conflicts of everyday life while grappling with the universal mysteries of love, death, and the possibility of happiness in an uncertain world.
4 “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.
5 “Empire of Light” Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross Searchlight Pictures
“Empire of Light” is a love story set in and around a beautiful old cinema on the South Coast of England in the 1980s.
Next in Line
6 “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.
7 “TÁR” Hildur Guðnadóttir Focus Features
Set in the international world of classical music, the film centers on Lydia Tár. widely considered one of the greatest living composer/conductors and first-ever female chief conductor of a major German orchestra.
8 “The Batman” Michael Giacchino Warner Bros.
When a sadistic serial killer begins murdering key political figures in Gotham, Batman is forced to investigate the city’s hidden corruption and question his family’s involvement.
9 “Babylon” Justin Hurwitz Paramount Pictures
Set in Hollywood during the transition from silent films to talkies, focusing on a mixture of historical & fictional characters.
10 “Good Night Oppy” Blake Neely Amazon Studios
The film follows Opportunity, the Mars Exploration Rover affectionately dubbed Oppy by her creators and scientists at NASA. Oppy was originally expected to live for only 90 days but she ultimately explored Mars for nearly 15 years.
Other Top-Tier Contenders
11 “Strange World” Henry Jackman Walt Disney Pictures
12 “The Son” Hans Zimmer Sony Pictures Classics
13 “She Said” Nicholas Britell Universal Pictures
14 “Emancipation” Marcelo Zarvos Apple Original Films
15 “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” Ludwig Göransson Marvel Studios
16 “White Noise” Danny Elfman Netflix
17 “RRR” M.M. Keeravaani Variance Films
18 “Nope” Michael Abels Universal Pictures
19 “The Banshees of Inisherin” Carter Burwell Searchlight Pictures
20 “Avatar: The Way of Water” Simon Franglen 20th Century Studios
Also In Contention
21 “Bones & All” Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross MGM/United Artists Releasing
22 “The Whale” Rob Simonsen A24
23 “Vengeance” Finneas O’Connell Focus Features
24 “Spirited” Benj Pasek, Justin Paul Apple Original Films
25 “Bardo (or False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths)” Bryce Dessner, Alejandro G. Iñárritu Netflix
26 “Everything Everywhere All at Once” Son Lux A24
27 “My Policeman” Steven Price Amazon Studios
28 “Blonde” Nick Cave, Warren Ellis Netflix
29 “Turning Red” Ludwig Göransson Pixar
30 “The Pale Blue Eye” Howard Shore Netflix
All Contenders Listed (Unranked-Alphabetical)
“A Man Called Otto” To be announced Sony Pictures
“After Yang” Aska Matsumiya, Ryuichi Sakamoto A24
“Aftersun” Oliver Coates A24
“All Quiet on the Western Front” Volker Bertelmann Netflix
“All the Beauty and the Bloodshed” Soundwalk Collective, Dawn Sutter Madell Neon
“Am I OK?” St. Vincent, Craig Wedren HBO Max
“Ambulance” Lorne Balfe Universal Pictures
“Amsterdam” Daniel Pemberton 20th Century Studios
“Argentina, 1985” Pedro Osuna Amazon Studios
“Armageddon Time” Christopher Spelman Focus Features
“Art & Krimes by Krimes” Amanda Jones MTV Documentary Films
“As They Made Us” Kevin Besignano Quiver
“Athena” Hugh Martin, Ralph Blane Netflix
“Avatar: The Way of Water” Simon Franglen 20th Century Studios
“Babylon” Justin Hurwitz Paramount Pictures
“Bardo (or False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths)” Bryce Dessner, Alejandro G. Iñárritu Netflix
“Beast” Steven Price Universal Pictures
“Black Adam” Lorne Balfe Warner Bros
“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” Ludwig Göransson Marvel Studios
“Blonde” Nick Cave, Warren Ellis Netflix
“Bodies Bodies Bodies” Disasterpiece A24
“Bones & All” Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross MGM/United Artists Releasing
“Brian and Charles” Daniel Pemberton Focus Features
“Broker” Jung Jae-il Neon
“Bros” Marc Shaiman Universal Pictures
“Bullet Train” Dominic Lewis Sony Pictures
“Call Jane” Isabella Summers Roadside Attractions
“Catherine Called Birdy” Carter Burwell Amazon Studios
“Causeway” Alex Somers A24/Apple Original Films
“Cha Cha Real Smooth” Este Haim, Chris Stracey Apple Original Films
“Chevalier” Kris Bowers Searchlight Pictures
“Close” Valentin Hadjadj A24
“Corsage” Camille IFC Films
“Crimes of the Future” Howard Shore Neon
“DC League of Super Pets” Steve Jablonsky Warner Bros
“Death on the Nile” Patrick Doyle 20th Century Studios
“Decision to Leave” Jo Yeong-wook Mubi
“Devotion” Chanda Dancy Sony Pictures
“Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” Danny Elfman Marvel Studios
“Don’t Worry Darling” John Powell Warner Bros
“Elvis” Elliott Wheeler Warner Bros.
“Empire of Light” Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross Searchlight Pictures
“Everything Everywhere All at Once” Son Lux A24
“Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery” Nathan Johnson Netflix
“Good Night Oppy” Blake Neely Amazon Studios
“Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio” Alexandre Desplat Netflix
“Happening” Evgueni Galperine, Sacha Galperine IFC Films
“Holy Spider” Martin Dirkov Utopia
“Hustle” Dan Deacon Netflix
“I Love My Dad” Jeremy Bullock Magnolia Pictures
“Let Me Be Me” Jackson Greenberg Greenwich Entertainment
“Lightyear” Michael Giacchino Pixar
“Living” Emilie Levienaise-Farrouch Sony Pictures Classics
“Luck” John Debney Apple Original Films
“Lyle, Lyle Crocodile” Matthew Margeson Sony Pictures
“Marcel the Shell with Shoes On” Disasterpiece A24
“Master” Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe Amazon Studios
“Men” Ben Salisbury, Geoff Barrow A24
“My Policeman” Steven Price Amazon Studios
“Nope” Michael Abels Universal Pictures
“Pearl” Tyler Bates, Tim Williams A24
“RRR” M.M. Keeravaani Variance Films
“She Said” Nicholas Britell Universal Pictures
“Spirited” Benj Pasek, Justin Paul Apple Original Films
“Spoiler Alert: The Hero Dies” Brian H. Kim Focus Features
“Stars at Noon” Tindersticks A24
“Strange World” Henry Jackman Walt Disney Pictures
“TÁR” Hildur Guðnadóttir Focus Features
“The Banshees of Inisherin” Carter Burwell Searchlight Pictures
“The Batman” Michael Giacchino Warner Bros.
“The Fabelmans” John Williams Universal Pictures
“The Fabelmans” John Williams Universal Pictures
“The Good Nurse” Biosphere Netflix
“The Greatest Beer Run Ever” Dave Palmer Apple Original Films
“The Inspection” Animal Collective A24
“The Menu” Colin Stetson Searchlight Pictures
“The Northman” Robin Carolan, Sebastian Gainsborough Focus Features
“The Pale Blue Eye” Howard Shore Netflix
“The Son” Hans Zimmer Sony Pictures Classics
“The Whale” Rob Simeonsen A24
“The Woman King” Terence Blanchard TriStar Pictures
“The Wonder” Matthew Herbert Netflix
“Thirteen Lives” Benjamin Wallfisch Amazon Studios/MGM
“Three Thousand Years of Longing” Junkie XL MGM/United Artists Releasing
“Till” Abel Korzeniowski Orion/United Artists Releasing
“Top Gun: Maverick” Lorne Balfe, Harold Faltermeyer, Hans Zimmer Paramount Pictures
“Turning Red” Ludwig Göransson Pixar
“Vengeance” Finneas O’Connell Focus Features
“Wendell and Wild” Bruno Coulais Netflix
“Where the Crawdad Sing” Mychael Danna Sony Pictures
“White Noise” Danny Elfman Netflix
“Women Talking” Hildur Guðnadóttir MGM/United Artists Releasing

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 Sunday, March 12, 2022, on ABC.

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, as well as 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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