The 89th Annual Academy Awards will air February 26 on ABC in Los Angeles from the Dolby Theatre, hosted by Jimmy Kimmel. This year, the Academy nominated five of the most impressive scores for a film in the Best Original Score category. In a year full of great musical moments in film, there’s plenty of attention on the composers of these scores.
As there is every year, excitement around each award category increases as we get closer to the actual ceremony. We’ve gathered information about these nominees for you below.
Here are the five Best Original Score Academy Award nominees of 2017.
1. Composer Nicholas Britell for ‘Moonlight’
Moonlight is one of the biggest films this awards season, wracking up eight Academy Award nominations alone. Composer Nicholas Britell knew this was an important film when he first read the script. As he tells The Frame, his “initial emotional reaction to it was that it had this incredible feeling of poetry.” His instinct paid off, because he could get an Oscar for what he created for the film’s score.
Honestly, I don’t think you ever believe it’s possible until it happens. Even while making the movie — we deeply, profoundly believed in the movie — you never know what’s going to happen. It’s just been a surreal experience for me and for the whole team; we’re all over the moon.
2. Composer Justin Hurwitz for ‘La La Land’
The odds are in La La Land composer Justin Hurwitz‘s favor this Academy Awards season – this nomination for Best Original Score is his third of the year. His other two nominations are both in the Best Original Song category: “Audition (The Fools Who Dream)” and “City of Stars.” The movie garnered 14 Oscar nominations this year, tying the record for most nods.
Mixing the underground jazz scene of L.A. with the glitz and glamor of Hollywood, La La Land has reinvented the movie musical in a big way. Hurwitz’s music plays a major role in the success of director Damien Chazelle‘s film. You can purchase the film’s soundtrack here.
La La Land could break the record for most Oscar wins, which is shared by three films at the 11 mark. Those films are Ben-Hur, Titanic and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. Hurwitz could possibly take home two of his nominations.
3. Composer Mica Levi for ‘Jackie’
Jackie composer Mica Levi is another first-time Oscar nominee this year, though her previous work hasn’t gone without accolades. Her score for the film, Under the Skin garnered her a BAFTA for Best Film Music nomination and a European Film Award for Best Composer.
Levi, also known by her stage name Mikachu, has one of the more well-rounded musical background of any composer out there. She’s classically trained, though spent the majority of her career creating avant-pop with her band Good Sad Happy Bad (formerly known as Micachu and The Shapes). The score for Jackie has the orchestration that you’d expect from dramatic biopic, but Levi’s other influences come into play during the film’s most poignant points.
4. Composer Thomas Newman for ‘Passengers’
This is composer Thomas Newman‘s 14th Best Original Score Oscar nomination. He’s been awarded a number of other honors, but has yet to get that Academy Award. His score for Passengers is one of the film’s two nominations, with them netting another nod in the production design category.
Speaking with Variety about finding the right sound for the film, Newman revealed that he decided that he “had to play to the conventions of what a space movie would sound like.”
“It wouldn’t just be moody space music. It’s a relationship that takes place over time. There were opportunities for many different tones. Late in the movie, it goes into an action realm; before that, it’s more in a relationship realm with some curves and mazes in it.”
You can purchase the film’s soundtrack here.
Newman is a member of a film scoring dynasty, too. His father, Alfred, was a film composer until her passed away in 1970. His brother, David, and his sister, Maria, are both composers. Plus, his cousin is singer-songwriter and film composer Randy Newman.
5. Composers Dustin O’Halloran and Hauschka for ‘Lion’
Lion is another Best Picture contender with the film’s score also nominated. It’s performed quite well, but the movie is looking at taking home at least one statue out of its six nominations. The collaborative composing team of Dustin O’Halloran and Volker Bertelmann, aka Hauschka, are vying for the Best Original Score award this year.
In an interview with IndieWire, Hauschka revealed that the two composers were already friends. Both acclaimed pianists, the two had spent “a lot of time in each other’s world, and the thought of us making music together was pretty exciting because we’d been friends for so long.”
This is the first Oscar nomination for each of the these composers. In a joint statement, the songwriting team thanked the Academy and more.
“We celebrate this nomination with our friend and colleague director Garth Davis, and the whole creative team and talented cast of Lion. We are grateful that our music supports this magnificent true story of love, determination and family.
You can purchase the film’s soundtrack here.