Handicapping the field for the Academy Award for Best Original Score is not easy. If I were a Las Vegas oddsmaker I’d have a bunch of nagging questions before I could set the odds on the five contender.
First, how popular are the respective films? If people didn’t see the movie, or worse, saw it and were not thoroughly impressed, the score’s chances may suffer.
Second, how popular are the composers? We’ve all seen ample proof over the years that the Academy often defaults to names it knows.
And third, because it might be the least important to the voters, how good are the actual scores? Music that serves a scene well may not hold up as well on its own. Are we voting on the best music as music or the best music that fits a particular film? The latter is probably the case, for most voters, and so despite what you may think, this musical Oscar is not for Art, but for Craftsmanship.
Anyway, as I see it (or hear it), Hans Zimmer’s score for Guy Ritchie’s steampunk vision of Sherlock Holmes stands out from this field. But I’d never make it the betting favorite. That role goes to Michael Giacchino. First, because his score to Up has a catchy song in it that voters can hum along to, and second, because they’re reminded every week on TV’s Lost just how talented a composer Giacchino has become.