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Original Scores the Oscars Forgot This Year

The score for Nicolas Winding Refn's Neon Demon got straight snubbed by the Academy.
The score for Nicolas Winding Refn's Neon Demon got straight snubbed by the Academy. Photo © Gunther Campine/Courtesy of
In a perfect world, the battle for the Best Original Score Oscar at Sunday's Academy Awards would be between Nicholas Britell’s sweeping orchestrations for Moonlight and the haunting piano strokes of Dustin O'Halloran and Hauschka's Lion soundtrack. It’s probably safe to say, though, that the musical La La Land will nab the prize.

Still, there was a lot of competition in 2016, music that built the sonic backdrop of some of the year's better-made films. Below are a few of the original scores and soundtracks that should have been nominated, but first a look at those that were:

  • Nicholas Britell, Moonlight
  • Justin Hurwitz, La La Land
  • Mica Levi, Jackie
  • Dustin O'Halloran and Hauschka, Lion
  • Thomas Newman, Passengers
Martinez (Drive) was also responsible for the War Dogs score this year, but his work for Nicolas Winding Refn's little-seen erotic thriller stands out.

YEONG-WOOK JO, The Handmaiden
This movie might have a solid chance of taking home the Foreign Language Film Oscar, and its soundtrack really sets the mood. Yeong-wook Jo adds unusual beauty to the orchestration of what could have been a standard period soundtrack.


It's impossible to have predicted that the Nine Inch Nails front man would have turned into a highly sought-after soundtrack-maker. Along with Atticus Ross, he's already got one Academy Award under his belt, for The Social Network's original music. It's just too bad 2017 won't be this duo's year for their Patriot's Day score. Their barrage of ethereal sonics may have come on a little too strong, and may just remind you of John Carpenter in his prime.

ABEL KORZENIOWSKI, Nocturnal Animals
A feeling of impending doom laces the sound coming off the strings in Korzeniowski's Nocturnal Animals score. It's a classical approach that's been called operatic, perfect for a movie made by high-fashion designer Tom Ford.

This soundtrack has a multiculti bent to it, with one part sounding like it was influenced by indigenous South American music. Other parts of the soundtrack have doses of the folksy charm you'd expect from the go-to guy for the Coen Brothers.

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Camilo Hannibal Smith started writing for the Houston Press in 2014. A former copy editor, he was inspired to focus on writing about pop culture and entertainment after a colleague wrote a story about Paul Wall's grills. His work has been published in the Los Angeles Times and the Source magazine.