2016 Oscar Circuit: Best Original Score


Welcome to our annual Oscar Circuit series, our deep down look into each and every category that will be presented at the upcoming Academy Awards.  Each writer of AwardsCircuit.com will tackle a different category, offering up their own perspectives on those specific races.  If you miss a piece, click on the tag titled Oscar Circuit 2016. You can also see the official Oscar Predictions for that particular race by clicking on the link here or at the bottom of each article.  Make sure to include your predicted winners in the comment section too!

The nominees are:
“Bridge of Spies” (Thomas Newman)
“Carol” (Carter Burwell)
“The Hateful Eight” (Ennio Morricone)
“Sicario” (Jóhann Jóhannsson)
“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” (John Williams)


Bridge of Spies (Thomas Newman)

You’re always told that if you don’t have anything nice to say than you shouldn’t say anything at all, but since Clay has us writing these I can tell you that this score is one of Newman’s worst scores and completely uninteresting musically. While I give him the slightest of props that he didn’t go overly emotional, part of the reason why the film feels tensionless is that the music isn’t contributing much in the way of emotion.


Carol (Carter Burwell)

The theme for this movie is such an ear worm and in a different year, it’s lush classical orchestrations and emotional resonance definitely would have made it the front runner in the category. As it stands now, we’ll just have to be happy with the fact that Burwell is finally amongst the nominated field. Although if I had to pick a spoiler, this one would be it.


The Hateful Eight (Ennio Morricone)

Given how legendary Morricone is, its surprising that he never won a competative Oscar (he took home an honorary one in 2007). Luckily for us, he composed one of 2015’s best scores for The Hateful Eight. His tunes offer the film a tension it desperately needs and manage to be both Western and horror leaning. It should be fun hearing his name called on Oscar night.


Sicario (Jóhann Jóhannsson)

In terms of being put in the mood for a film, I don’t think a composer did a better job than Jóhann Jóhannsson, whose synth and percussion heavy beats realy just put you in that depressing headspace that the film wants you to be in. You get a feeling of dread from the opening notes and the movie doesn’t let up. Also doesn’t hurt that it reminds people of another film that was equally as tightly wound (Zero Dark Thirty).


Star Wars: The Force Awakens (John Williams)

One of the most awarded composers ever coming back to the franchise that netted him his 3rd Oscar and two other nominations, John Williams was definitely assured to be in the discussion for Best Original Score. While his score for Force Awakens doesn’t necessarily have that OMG THIS IS A CLASSIC THEME! like the other films, it’s still a well made score, highlighting the action and underscoring the emotional particularly well.

Will Win: The Hateful Eight
Should Win: Sicario
Should Have Been Nominated: Junkie XL, Mad Max: Fury Road