Oscars 2023: John Williams, 90, Makes Original Score Shortlist (Yep, That’s a Record)

John Williams’ score for The Fabelmans made the shortlist of 15 original scores that are vying for Oscars on Wednesday (Dec. 21). If it is nominated, it would be Williams’ record-extending 48th nomination in a scoring category. Moreover, it would give him scoring nods in seven consecutive decades.

Should he win, Williams, 90, would become the oldest winner in any competitive category, topping James Ivory who was 89 when he won best adapted screenplay for Call Me By Your Name.


Two scores by female composers – Hildur Guðnadóttir’s Women Talking and Chanda Dancy’s Devotion – were shortlisted. This would be Hildur’s second scoring nod. She won three years ago for Joker. The Icelandic composer would become just the third woman to receive multiple nominations in this category, following the late Angela Morley (who had two nods) and Rachel Portman (who has had three).

Ludwig Göransson was shortlisted for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. Göransson won in this category four years ago for the original Black Panther. Should he win for this sequel, he’ll become the second composer to win for two installments of the same franchise. Howard Shore won for two films in The Lord of the Rings franchise.

Terence Blanchard was shortlisted for The Woman King. This would be Blanchard’s third nomination in this category, which would put him in a tie with Quincy Jones as the Black composer with the most scoring nods. Jones was nominated for In Cold Blood, The Wiz and The Color Purple.

Alexandre Desplat was shortlisted for Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio. Desplat won for The Grand Budapest Hotel (2004) and The Shape of Water (2017). Should he win again, he’ll tie the late Maurice Jarre as the Frenchman with the most scoring Oscars. Jarre won for Lawrence of Arabia, Doctor Zhivago and A Passage to India.

A total of 147 scores were eligible in this category. Members of the music branch will vote to determine the shortlist and the nominees.

Here’s a complete list of the 15 scores that were shortlisted for best original score, listed in alphabetical order by film.

All Quiet on the Western Front, Netflix

Volker Bertelmann

Avatar: The Way of Water, 20th Century Studios

Simon Franglen

Babylon, Paramount Pictures

Justin Hurwitz

The Banshees of Inisherin, Searchlight Pictures

Carter Burwell

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Marvel Studios

Ludwig Göransson

Devotion, Sony Pictures

Chanda Dancy

Don’t Worry Darling, Warner Bros.

John Powell

Everything Everywhere All at Once, A24

Son Lux

The Fabelmans, Universal Pictures

John Williams

Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, Netflix

Nathan Johnson

Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio, Netflix

Alexandre Desplat

Nope, Universal Pictures

Michael Abels

She Said, Universal Pictures

Nicholas Britell

The Woman King, Sony Pictures

Terence Blanchard

Women Talking, MGM/United Artists Releasing

Hildur Guðnadóttir

Inevitably, several high-profile scores were passed over for the shortlist. Among them: The Batman (Michael Giacchino), Emancipation (Marcelo Zarvos), Empire of Light (Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross), Living (Emilie Levienaise-Farrouch), A Man Called Otto (Thomas Newman), RRR (M.M. Keeravaani), The Son (Hans Zimmer), Strange World (Henry Jackman) and White Noise (Danny Elfman). Zimmer is the reigning champ in the category. He won in April for Dune.

Two other high-profile scores – Tár (composed by Hildur Guðnadóttir) and Top Gun: Maverick (composed by Hans Zimmer, Harold Faltermeyer, Lorne Balfe and Lady Gaga) had earlier been ruled ineligible.

Sources told Variety that Tár was deemed ineligible because the amount of original, audible music was insufficient, and ran afoul of a second rule that “a score shall not be eligible if it has been diluted by the use of pre-existing music.” Sources said that Top Gun: Maverick failed to qualify for two reasons: it fell short of the amount of original music required (a sequel “must consist of more than 80% newly composed music”) and it was “assembled from the music of more than one composer.”

Nominations for the 95th Oscars will be announced on Tuesday Jan. 24, 2023. The telecast, hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, will take place on Sunday, March 12, 2023, airing live on ABC from the Dolby Theatre at Ovation Hollywood.

Paul Grein