Last year, at age 90, John Williams made history as the oldest nominee to ever compete for an Oscar. One year later and now 91 years old, the legendary composer has broken his own record — and having earned his 54th career Oscar nomination, he maintains the distinction of having more Oscar nominations of any other living person. Williams' fellow Best Original Score nominees include another previous winner (Ludwig Göransson, who is now a three-time Oscar nominee) and three first-time nominees.
One composer will take home the Oscar for Best Original Score during the 96th Oscars on March 10, but until then, you can listen to all of this year's nominated scores below.
Laura Karpman's jazzy score for Cord Jefferson's directorial debut has made her a first-time Oscar nominee. With upbeat yet contemplative compositions, Karpman's score perfectly reflects the tricky tonal tightrope walked by Jefferson's film, which is part satire and part family drama. "You've got to be able to turn the emotion on a dime, so you have to be musically gymnastic. But what you also do is you lean into the same instruments," Karpman told A.frame.
"I had saxophones, piano, bass, drums, flute and strings," explains the composer. "We had a consistent instrumentation, so you're always hearing the same instruments, but you're hearing them rendered in different ways depending on the story."
Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny
John Williams' music has been an integral part of the Indiana Jones franchise since its inception in 1981, so it's fitting that the Oscar winner returned to score the fifth and final installment in the saga. The Dial of Destiny is the first Indiana Jones movie not directed by Williams' longtime collaborator, Steven Spielberg, but the veteran composer's score still swells with that same sense of awe that has long been associated with the beloved franchise.
A 54-time nominee, Williams has taken home five Oscars to date, winning Best Original Score for 1971's Fiddler on the Roof, 1975's Jaws, 1977's Star Wars, 1982's E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, and 1993's Schindler's List.
Killers of the Flower Moon
The score for Martin Scorsese's Western crime drama comes courtesy of his longtime collaborator, the late Robbie Robertson. The musician — a former guitarist for Bob Dylan and founding member of The Band — only officially scored two other Scorsese films (1986's The Color of Money and 2019's The Irishman), but Robertson produced and consulted on the music for six of his other films. The percussive, sorrowful score for Killers of the Flower Moon serves as the final chapter in a decades-long creative partnership between the two artists.
For the film, Robertson has posthumously received his first Oscar nomination. In a statement, his close friend and manager for over 30 years, Jared Levine, said, "Robbie would have been thrilled to receive this acknowledgment. He felt that Killers of the Flower Moon was the pinnacle of his creative partnership with Marty. My only wish is that they could have shared this time, and recognition together."
Oppenheimer is the second film that Ludwig Göransson has scored for Christopher Nolan, yet proved even more daunting than 2020's Tenet. To score the towering biopic, the Swedish composer needed to translate the beauty and chaos inside the mind of one of history's most consequential geniuses to music. Göransson won the Oscar for Best Original Score in 2019 with his score for Marvel's Black Panther. He was nominated again for 2022's Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, with Oppenheimer marking his third career nomination.
"What a thrill to wake up and see so much of Oppenheimer's cast and crew recognized by our peers in the Academy. I'm very proud to have been on this journey with them," Göransson said of his latest nomination. "To the extraordinary musicians who believed in this score and poured so much of themselves into the process: Thank you. I share this honor with all of you."
English musician Joscelin Dent-Pooley, known professionally as Jerskin Fendrix, had never composed a film score when he was enlisted by Yorgos Lanthimos to work on Poor Things. Now, he is a first-time Oscar nominee. His Poor Things score is full of warped instrumentation and subversive rhythms that match the off-kilter energy of the film itself and its endlessly curious heroine, Bella Baxter (played by Emma Stone).
"I'm honoured to be nominated alongside my friends from Poor Things," Fendrix said in a statement. "Making this film has been such an extraordinary artistic journey, and being given the freedom to write music without any creative inhibition, to fully interpret and fall in love with Bella's world, and to work with such talented and kind people has been a true privilege. My gratitude to Yorgos for asking me to write the music for Poor Things is impossible to put into words."