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Oscar Song and Score Nominee Predictions: See the List

The 94th annual Academy Awards ceremony is scheduled to take place at the Dolby Theatre in March 2022.

Beyoncé and JAY-Z are leading contenders for best original song at the 2022 Academy Awards — Beyoncé with a song from King Richard; JAY-Z with two from The Harder They Fall. If both stars are nominated, it will be the first time in Oscar history that a married couple has competed against one another in any category. Also, three pairs of siblings are vying for best original song nominations: Ron and Russell Mael, Aaron and Bryce Dessner, and Billie Eilish and FINNEAS. And, for the second year in a row, a rock star moonlighting as a successful film composer could dominate the best original score nominations. Jonny Greenwood, lead guitarist and keyboardist in Radiohead, could get two for Spencer and The Power of the Dog. Last year, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross of Nine Inch Nails received two nods for Soul (a collaboration with Jon Batiste) and Mank.

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Below are the top 15 prospects for best original song and best original score — listed alphabetically by film title — based on the contenders’ Oscar history and the acclaim generated by their projects, Billboard’s predictions and those made by colleagues at outlets such as The Hollywood Reporter, Gold Derby, Variety and IndieWire.

songs

“So May We Start”
Ron Mael, Russell Mael
Annette, Amazon Studios

The Mael brothers, who co-founded pop-rock group Sparks, scored this film and co-wrote the screenplay with the film’s director, Leos Carax. The film’s stars — Adam Driver, Marion Cotillard and Simon Helberg — perform this song. Annette premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in July.

“Down to Joy”
Van Morrison
Belfast, Focus Features

Morrison, who performs this song, was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2003 and received its top honor, the Johnny Mercer Award, in 2015. This is his only new song in Belfast, which also includes eight of his classics. Kenneth Branagh wrote, directed and co-produced Belfast, a leading best picture contender.

“Automatic Woman”
H.E.R., Van Hunt, Starrah
Bruised, Netflix

H.E.R. won best original song in April for co-writing “Fight for You” from Judas and the Black Messiah. If she is nominated again this year, she’ll become the first best original song winner to return to the finals the following year since Benj Pasek and Justin Paul four years ago. Collaborator Starrah has co-written three No. 1 singles on the Billboard Hot 100, while Van Hunt won a Grammy 15 years ago as a featured artist on a new version of the Sly & The Family Stone classic “Family Affair.”

“Beyond the Shore”
Nicholai Baxter, Matt Dahan, Sian Heder, Marius de Vries
CODA, Apple Original Films

Heder wrote and directed CODA, a coming-of-age story that follows a hearing teenage girl who is a Child of Deaf Adults (CODA). Emilia Jones sings “Beyond the Shore” in the film, which could also land a best picture nod. Baxter and de Vries each won Grammys four years ago for the La La Land compilation soundtrack.

“Every Letter”
Matt Berninger, Carin Besser, Aaron Dessner, Bryce Dessner
Cyrano, MGM/UA

The Dessner twins scored this film, which stars Peter Dinklage, who performs this song alongside co-stars Haley Bennett and Kelvin Harrison Jr. The Dessners and Berninger are members of The National, for which Besser (who is married to Berninger) has co-written and sung backup vocals.

“The Anonymous Ones”
Benj Pasek, Justin Paul, Amandla Stenberg
Dear Evan Hansen, Universal Pictures

Pasek and Paul won a 2017 Tony for best original score for Dear Evan Hansen. This would be their fourth Academy Award nod for best original song. “City of Stars” from La La Land is their only win. Stenberg, 23, sings the song in her role as Alana.

“Just Look Up”
Nicholas Britell, Ariana Grande, Scott Mescudi (Kid Cudi), Taura Stinson
Don’t Look Up, Netflix

Stinson was nominated in this category four years ago for co-writing “Mighty River” from Mudbound. Britell, who also scored the film, co-wrote this song performed by Grande and Kid Cudi. It’s nominated in two categories at the Hollywood Music in Media Awards: song, feature film and song, onscreen performance.

oscar music preview score
King: David Lee/Netflix/Courtesy Everett Collection. Sing 2: Courtesy of Disney. Grande: Niko Tavernise/Netflix. Illustration by Cristiana Couceiro

“Colombia, Mi Encanto”
Lin-Manuel Miranda
Encanto, Walt Disney

Miranda, who only needs an Oscar to achieve EGOT status, was nominated five years ago for “How Far I’ll Go” from Moana. He has two more contenders this year: “Keep the Beat” from Vivo and “Home All Summer” from In the Heights, the film adaptation of his breakthrough Broadway hit.

“My Father’s Daughter”
Glen Hansard, Eddie Vedder
Flag Day, United Artists Releasing/MGM

Hansard won in this category 14 years ago for “Falling Slowly” from Once. Vedder has yet to be nominated for an Academy Award, but received a 2007 Grammy nod for “Guaranteed” from Into the Wild. That film and Flag Day were both directed by Sean Penn, who in the latter stars as a father living a double life to provide for his daughter, played by his real-life child Dylan. Making the film even more of a family affair, Vedder’s teenage daughter Olivia sings this song.

“Somehow You Do”
Diane Warren
Four Good Days, Vertical Entertainment

Warren is a 12-time nominee in this category. If she is nominated again this year, it would be her fifth time in a row. That would be the longest stretch of consecutive nods in this category for any songwriter since Marilyn and Alan Bergman were nominated six years in a row (1968-73). Reba McEntire performs this song.

“Guns Go Bang”
Jeymes Samuel, Scott Mescudi, Shawn Carter (JAY-Z)
The Harder They Fall, Netflix

JAY-Z and Kid Cudi co-wrote and perform this song. The film is one of the few Westerns whose principal cast members (including Idris Elba and Regina King) are all Black. Samuel directed, co-produced, co-wrote and scored The Harder They Fall, with JAY-Z also co-producing.

“Be Alive”
Beyoncé Knowles-Carter, Dixson
King Richard, Warner Bros./HBO Max

Beyoncé has won six Grammys for songwriting, including song of the year for “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It).” And while she has performed best original song contenders at the Oscars multiple times, she has yet to be nominated for one. That could change with this song, which she co-wrote and co-produced with Dixson, and sings over the film’s end credits. King Richard, a likely best picture nominee, stars Will Smith as Richard Williams, the father and coach of tennis legends Venus and Serena Williams.

“No Time To Die”
Billie Eilish, Finneas O’Connell
No Time To Die, MGM/UA

“No Time To Die” is vying to become the fourth title song from a Bond film to receive an Academy Award nod, following “Live and Let Die,” “For Your Eyes Only” and “Skyfall.” No Time to Die, which stars Daniel Craig in his fifth and final outing as James Bond, was No. 1 at the box-office in October while back in March its title song won a Grammy for best song written for visual media.

“Here I Am (Singing My Way Home)”
Jamie Alexander Hartman, Jennifer Hudson, Carole King
Respect, MGM/UA

Hudson, who won an Oscar 15 years ago for best supporting actress for Dreamgirls, performs this song in the Aretha Franklin biopic in which she starred. King has yet to be nominated for an Oscar but was nominated for a Grammy for writing “Now and Forever” from the 1992 film A League of Their Own. Hartman, an English songwriter and producer based in Nashville, has written songs for NBC’s Smash.

“Your Song Saved My Life”
U2
Sing 2, Universal Pictures

U2 has received two nods for best original song for “The Hands That Built America” from Gangs of New York (2002) and “Ordinary Love” from Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom (2013). Bono makes his animated film debut in Sing 2, voicing the rock star lion Clay Calloway.

scores

Annette (Amazon Studios)
Ron Mael, Russell Mael

The Mael brothers were involved in two films this year, Annette and The Sparks Brothers. The latter is an Edgar Wright-directed documentary about their career and includes the tagline: “Your favorite band’s favorite band.” Even so, Sparks has yet to receive a Grammy nomination or be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

Cyrano (United Artists Releasing/MGM)
Aaron Dessner, Bryce Dessner

Directed by Joe Wright and written by Erica Schmidt, Cyrano — which had its world premiere at the Telluride Film Festival on Sept. 2 — is based on Schmidt’s 2018 stage musical of the same name (an adaptation of Edmond Rostand’s 1897 play, Cyrano de Bergerac). The Dessners have a second score in contention with C’mon C’mon (A24).

Don’t Look Up (Netflix)
Nicholas Britell

Britell could get his third nod in six years following nominations for Moonlight (2016) and If Beale Street Could Talk (2018). Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence star in Don’t Look Up, which also features Cate Blanchett and Meryl Streep. Britell has a second score in contention with Cruella (Walt Disney Pictures).

Dune (Warner Bros.)
Hans Zimmer

Zimmer, who has received Oscar nominations in each of the last four decades, could extend that streak to five with this film. Dune, which stars Timothée Chalamet and Zendaya, was No. 1 at the box-office in October and is a likely best picture nominee. Zimmer has a second score in contention with No Time to Die (United Artists Releasing/MGM). It’s vying to become the third Bond score to be nominated, following The Spy Who Loved Me (Marvin Hamlisch, 1977) and Skyfall (Thomas Newman, 2012).

The French Dispatch (Searchlight Pictures)
Alexandre Desplat

Desplat has amassed 11 best original score nods since 2006, the second-most by any composer in this century (John Williams leads with 14 since 2000). Desplat won for The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014) and The Shape of Water (2017). Wes Anderson, director of The Grand Budapest Hotel, wrote, directed and co-produced this film.

The Harder They Fall (Netflix)
Jeymes Samuel

Samuel and JAY-Z both worked on the music to Baz Luhrmann’s 2013 film, The Great Gatsby. Four years later, Samuel wrote, directed and produced Jay-Z: Legacy, one of two short films he created before making his feature debut with The Harder They Fall. Samuel, a British singer-songwriter, producer and filmmaker, is the brother of four-time Grammy winner Seal.

King Richard (Warner Bros.)
Kris Bowers

Bowers was nominated last year for documentary (short subject) for A Concerto Is a Conversation and now seeks his first scoring nod. He has another in contention with Respect. If nominated for both, it would be the first time a Black composer has two best original score nods in the same year.

The Last Duel (Walt Disney Studios)
Harry Gregson-Williams

This would be the first Oscar nod for Gregson-Williams, who also scored House of Gucci. The Englishman is the older brother of composer Rupert Gregson-Williams. Ridley Scott directed The Last Duel from a screenplay by Nicole Holofcener, Ben Affleck and Matt Damon. The latter two also star in the film.

Last Night in Soho (Focus Features)
Steven Price

Price won an Oscar for Gravity eight years ago and has since scored such films as Suicide Squad, Baby Driver and Over the Moon. Last Night in Soho is a British psychological horror film directed and co-written by Edgar Wright. It stars Queen’s Gambit’s Anya Taylor-Joy and marks the final film appearances by English actresses Diana Rigg and Margaret Nolan.

oscar music preview songs
Taylor-Joy: Parisa Taghizadeh/2021 Focus Features LLC. Stewart: Pablo Larrain. Smith: Chiabella James/Warner Bros. Illustration by Cristiana Couceiro

Nightmare Alley (Searchlight Pictures)
Nathan Johnson

Nightmare Alley is a psychological thriller directed and co-written by Guillermo del Toro. The film, which stars Bradley Cooper, Cate Blanchett and Toni Collette, is considered a likely best picture nominee. This would be the first nod for Johnson, who, in addition to scoring such films as Knives Out, has directed music videos for Son Lux, Lucius and yMusic.

Parallel Mothers (Sony Pictures Classics)
Alberto Iglesias

The Spanish composer has amassed three nods in this category for The Constant Gardener (2005), The Kite Runner (2007) and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011). Pedro Almodóvar wrote and directed Parallel Mothers, which stars Penélope Cruz. It premiered as the opening film of the Venice International Film Festival on Sept. 1.

The Power of the Dog (Netflix)
Jonny Greenwood

Greenwood received his first Oscar nod for best original score for Phantom Thread four years ago. He received a 2008 Grammy nod for his score to There Will Be Blood and has won three Grammys for best alternative music album as part of Radiohead. Jane Campion wrote and directed this Western drama starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Kirsten Dunst.

Spencer (Neon)
Jonny Greenwood

If both of Greenwood’s scores are nominated, he would become the first individual film scorer with two nods in the same year since Alexandre Desplat doubled up seven years ago with The Grand Budapest Hotel and The Imitation Game. (Remarkably, Greenwood scored a third film this year, United Artists Releasing/MGM’s Licorice Pizza.) Spencer stars Kristen Stewart as Diana, Princess of Wales, and follows Diana’s decision to leave the British royal family.

Stillwater (Focus Features)
Mychael Danna

Danna won in this category nine years ago for his score to Life of Pi and received a second nod that year for best original song for “Pi’s Lullaby.” Stillwater, a crime drama directed by Tom McCarthy that stars Matt Damon and Abigail Breslin, had its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival on July 8. Danna and his brother Jeff Danna also wrote the music for The Addams Family 2.

The Tragedy of Macbeth (A24/Apple Original Films)
Carter Burwell

Burwell has received two nods in this category for Carol (2015) and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017). Joel Coen wrote and directed The Tragedy of Macbeth, which stars Oscar winners Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand and is based on the Shakespeare tragedy.

This story originally appeared in the Nov. 20, 2021, issue of Billboard.