Oscars 2021: Nominees for Best Original Score

Besides music, I am also an enthusiast of motion pictures and film scores have been particularly one of the main focal points for me in recent years. The list of nominees for Best Original Score is quite exciting, in my opinion, and I thought it would be useful to give readers a bit of information regarding this topic as well. The Academy Awards will be held on the 26th of April but I believe a heads-up for upcoming cultural events would never do any harm to anyone. So, here we go! 

Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross – Mank
Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross as band members are mainly involved in their major project of Nine Inch Nails, however, in the last couple of years they have worked as a composer duo as well and written scores for motion pictures. This year their composition for Mank was nominated for an Academy Award. It is the latest directorial work of David Fincher, starring Gary Oldman, Amanda Seyfried and Lily Collins. The film presents the 1930’s era of Hollywood and the way the American film industry is perceived through the eyes of social critic and alcoholic screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz. Not only is the narrative interesting but its score also deserves attention and appreciation.

Trent Reznor
Credit: Nine Inch Nails Official

Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross & Jon Batiste – Soul
Moreover, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross scored another film Soul that has been nominated for an Academy Award as well. In this project, they were joined by jazz and R&B musician Jon Batiste as well. Beyond his musical talent, it is also possible that Batiste joined the project because the narrative of this animation movie is built around music, more specifically around jazz. Due to the different genre, this movie required another approach when it came to scoring which has been successfully dealt with by Reznor and Ross. It also shows the versatility of them as composers. Two nominations in the same year in the same category say something in my opinion. 

Terence Blanchard – Da 5 Bloods
Mr Blanchard has written the score for Da 5 Bloods which is a war-drama directed by Spike Lee, starring Delroy Lindo and Jonathan Majors. This score is also among the nominees for this year’s Academy Award for Best Original Score. Even though Terence Blanchard has roughly 30 years of experience in film scores, still he is first and foremost, a jazz musician. Da 5 Bloods and its score which contains classical orchestration and cadences clearly demonstrates the greatness of Mr. Blanchard as a composer who can navigate easily within genres. 

Terence Blanchard
Credit: Derek Bridges


Emile Mosseri – Minari
Mosseri is the youngest musician among the nominees whose works have been nominated for an Academy Award in 2021. Mosseri is an alumnus of Berklee College of Music and has scored films and TV series as well in the last couple of years, including Random Acts of Flyness (2018) and Season 2 of Homecoming (2020). His style is mainly classical and his compositions in Minari show the listeners his quality. The score completely blends in and matches the setting of Minari which is by the way a great motion picture that demonstrates the life story of an American-Korean family who seeks the elusive American Dream. Mosseri is more likely to become one of the major ambassadors of composers who are from the younger generation and his work in Minari is the evidence for it.

Credit: Tedwenn

James Newton Howard – News of the World
The last one is a work of the well-known film composer James Newton Howard who was involved in several film productions in the past including King Kong (2005), The Dark Knight (2008), and the Fantastic Beasts saga. He is a versatile musician and his professionalism can be perceived through listening to his score in News of the World which was directed by Paul Greengrass and starring Tom Hanks. Howard’s score loyally follows the setting and the narrative of the movie. In my opinion, his work contains influences from Ennio Morricone which makes Howard’s score even more interesting and exciting

James Newton Howard
Credit: Yann de la marne derivative work: Butko

Final Word
I believe all of the nominated composers would deserve an Academy Award for their works because all of them demonstrate professionalism, yet there is a little issue here that occurred to me. The quality of the compositions is the priority that I am aware of, of course, still, the list of this year’s nominees for Best Original Score definitely shows a lack of diversity.

In recent years, gender inequality has been coming up as a yet-unsolved-issue globally, especially in Hollywood. When Hildur Guðnadóttir, Icelandic composer won an Academy Award for her score in Joker last year, I felt relieved. I thought even Hollywood started to make progress to solve this issue, but now I feel rather confused. I understand that due to Covid-19 even the film industry was forced to stop for a while so that might also have caused difficulty to everyone whose occupation is connected to film productions that would involve female composers too. Yet, we still face social issues like gender inequality that must be dealt with as soon as possible. 

Aron Debreceni
Aron Debreceni

Aron is a journalist and a student of Utrecht University (NL). He has been doing his own singer-songwriter project 'Aron D' since 2016. Besides music, he is open to write articles about politics, education, health, history and travel.

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