Oscar Winner Best Score and Best Sound

Our Oscar Winner Predictions: Sound Edition

By Gabe Cowan

Our Oscar Winner Predictions for

Best Score & Best Sound

Oscar Winner Best Score and Best Sound

It’s that time of the year again, to celebrate the best of the best in the industry by handing them the coveted golden statue. It’s already off to a controversial start with the academy’s decision to not televise several awards categories in favor of bigger dance numbers. Since both Best Score and Best Sound were categories thrown out by the academy we’ve decided to share some extra love and go in-depth with our Oscar winner predictions.

Nominees for Best Score

This year’s Best Score nominees are Nicholas Britell’s, Don’t Look Up; Hans Zimmer’s, Dune; Germaine Franco’s, Encanto; Alberto Iglesias’s, Parallel Mothers; and Jonny Greenwood’s, The Power of the Dog. All of them are incredible selections in what feels like a recovery year for Hollywood as the pandemic is finally coming to an end.

Don’t Look Up

Nicholas Britell’s score encapsulates the manic realism juxtaposed with comedic apathy that Don’t Look Up portrays as the perfect allegory for the pandemic. The jazz throwback will always get looks by the academy, but not certain if it has what it takes to get the award. Hans Zimmer is back at it blending sound design with his minimalist scores. Harsh horns, distorted strings, and constant percussion are exactly what you’ll get with any Hans Zimmer score. But due to his reign throughout the early 2000’s, it’s hard not to hear this score as a little trite or even cliche. Not to take away from the score, but I feel like it’s missing that “something new” to win the award this year.


Next we have Germaine Franco’s, Encanto. Of course she’s nominated, the music is the most memorable part of the film! “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” was a billboard hit after the release to streaming platforms and we’re all still singing it. Side note, how did that song not get nominated?! But back to Germaine, while her score was incredible, it’s the musical numbers that people truly want to see win so I’m not sure how good her chances are this year.

That brings us to the final two nominees, both of which are equal contenders and we believe have the best chance of winning…

The Power of The Dog

First there’s Greenwood’s score for The Power of the Dog. This score screams western, or rather “whispers” it as it’s never too loud. In fact, the score is rather simple and very minimalist, and that’s what makes it so perfect for the film. The score should punctuate the film, not overshadow it. Greenwood did everything right to match the dirge of the day-to-day western life. While it lands every beat perfectly, the score doesn’t do anything to go above and beyond. The minimalism that makes the score might be exactly what kills its chances of winning.

Parallel Mothers

Finally, this leaves us with what we predict will be this year’s winner, Alberto Iglesias’s, Parallel Mothers. Instantly adding anxiety from the opening, this score delivers well-paced, harmonically lush, and urgent music that doubles as its own sound design. It’s easy to compare this to throwback scores from the thrillers of Hitchcock who always had a great score to accompany his films. Iglesias has been nominated for Best Score three times before but never won. We believe it’s his year!

Best Sound Prediction

This year’s Best Sound nominees are Belfast, Dune, No Time to Die, Power of the Dog, and Westside Story. Since last year’s switch to a single award for sound, predictions have been significantly harder to make. While Belfast and Power of the Dog have incredible mixing they pale in comparison to No Time to Die or Dune when it comes to sound design. Now that these two distinct categories are merged it’s hard to say what the academy is listening for or what specifically they’ll vote for.

What We Think

Our guess is they’ll vote for a film with noticeable sound cues and instances. This unfortunately means that proper mixing will almost never be awarded or recognized by the academy in coming years. With that said, I think it’s safe to eliminate Belfast and West Side Story from the potential winners. The Power of the Dog and Dune both have the issue where it’s hard to tell the difference between score and sound design. Which is why I believe neither will win Best Score in my other post.

Thoughts on Dune

Dune brings plenty of action to mix up the sound and stick out. Another problem with Dune is that Hans Zimmer’s scores tend to get in the way of the action unless mixed extremely well. Nonetheless, it is possible that the sci-fi elements carry them to Best Sound, even if not totally original. Sci-Fi movies do often win this category.

Thoughts on No Time to Die

That leaves No Time to Die as a sneaky dark horse in the sound category. We are certain the academy is itching to give at least one award to Daniel Craig’s last film as Bond. Additionally, giving closure to the end of this modern take on the classic James Bond formula. Best Sound seems just inconsequential enough to the academy to hand it out. To be clear, the sound in No Time to Die is incredible! So many well choreographed and executed action sequences brought to life with sound and every scenic landscape had its own eerie ambiences.

Our Verdict For Best Sound

We are truly stuck between Dune and No Time to Die, but if we had to give it to one, our Oscar winner prediction for Best Sound is Dune.

Want to learn how to score something yourself? Check out this blog on how to create sad music with Major Keys.