When Hans Zimmer, who won the Oscar for Best Original Score last year with Dune, accepted his first-ever Oscar in 1995, he took the stage and admitted, "I'm incredibly nervous. I'll tell you what, writing a score is much easier than this." At this year's 95th Oscars, five of his fellow composers — including two previous winners, two past nominees, and one first-time nominee — will have the chance to experience that feeling.
Those nominees had the tall task of scoring the greatest anti-war story of all time (All Quiet on the Western Front), a Hollywood saga of biblical proportions (Babylon), a distinctively Irish fable (The Banshees of Inisherin), a mind-bending, genre-defying sci-fi family drama (Everything Everywhere All at Once), and the coming-of-age story of Steven Spielberg (The Fabelmans). The winner will be announced during the 95th Oscars on Sunday, March 12.
Until then, listen to this year's Best Original Score nominees below.
All Quiet on the Western Front
The aggressive drumbeats and distorted harmonium that soundtrack the anti-war film were constructed by Volker Bertelmann (who, in his solo work, goes by the name Hauschka), the German composer, music producer, pianist, and frequent collaborator of director Edward Berger. This marks Bertelmann's second nomination, previously recognized with Dustin O'Halloran for their original score for 2016's Lion.
"I am excited and honored to be nominated for an Oscar," Bertelmann said in a statement. "To be part of such a well-crafted and meaningful film means a lot to me. The collaboration with director Edward Berger was always based on being experimental and with a lot of freedom. I am very thankful for that. Congrats to Edward, producer Malte Grunert and the entire team on all their nominations."
After modernizing the Golden Age musical with La La Land, two-time Oscar winner Justin Hurwitz (Best Original Score for La La Land and Best Original Song for "City of Stars" from La La Land) set out to defy expectations with this electrifying jazz score, which is both faithful to the film's time period yet strikingly current.
"Given that Damien wrote the wildest movie ever, we wanted to really err on the side of wildness and avoid the pleasant, quaint jazz that we think of with the '20s," Hurwitz told A.frame. "We wanted to do something that was really sometimes aggressive, sometimes unbridled, sometimes unhinged, sometimes really just going off the rails."
The Banshees of Inisherin
Carter Burwell is the longtime composer of the Coen brothers, Todd Haynes, and Martin McDonagh, having composed music for all of the latter's films beginning with 2008's In Bruges. Burwell approached their latest collaboration like a fairy tale, crafting sparkly, harp and flute-tinged tunes that mirrored the beauty of the titular isle. This is Burwell's third nomination for Best Original Score, previously recognized for 2015's Carol and 2017's Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.
"It's an honor to be nominated for Original Score for The Banshees of Inisherin with these other wonderful composers," Burwell said in a statement. "It was a good year for film music. And such a joy that the whole cast of our film is nominated, as well as Mikkel for the editing which set the pace for so much of my music. But most of all, I'm so grateful Martin McDonagh made this odd film, the opposite of a crowd-pleaser, which nonetheless is pleasing crowds."
Everything Everywhere All at Once
Three-piece experimental band Son Lux (comprising front man Ryan Lott, guitarist Rafiq Bhatia, and drummer Ian Chang) earns their first-ever Oscar nomination with their first score as a trio, a multiverse-spanning maximalist soundtrack whose sonic scope includes dreamy piano themes and propulsive martial arts cues, including features from the likes of Moses Sumney, André 3000, and two-time Oscar winner Randy Newman. (Lott is also up for Best Original Song for "This Is a Life.")
"As if the joy of helping to make this wonderful and weird movie wasn't enough, we are ecstatic to be nominated for our score, and for the song we wrote with David Byrne and Mitski for the film," Son Lux wrote on Instagram. While our belief in Everything Everywhere All at Once is boundless, receiving an Oscar nomination, let alone 2, wasn't on our radar of possibility in this universe. Thank you to the Academy for this enormous honor!!!"
Fifty years into his artistic partnership with Steven Spielberg, legendary composer John Williams earns his 53rd Oscar nomination with the understated yet heartfelt piano score that soundtracks the director's "most personal film" to date. Williams now counts 48 nominations for Best Original Score, alongside five for Best Original Song, making him the most Oscar-nominated living person and, at age 90, the oldest-ever competing Oscar nominee. Williams has previously won five Oscars for Best Original Score; for Fiddler on the Roof (1971), Jaws (1975), Star Wars (1977), E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982), and Schindler's List (1993).
"I'm very grateful to the Academy for their kind recognition, and I'm enormously grateful to Steven Spielberg for offering me the opportunity to compose the score for this very special and personal film," Williams said in a statement.