Throughout film history, we’ve often seen a single composer earn two Academy Award nominations for different films, in the same year. The most recent to do so was Alexandre Desplat, who was nominated in 2014 for both The Imitation Game and The Grand Budapest Hotel. (Desplat won for the latter film).
But composer duos are another thing altogether.
While Edward Plumb and Paul Smith earned two Score noms way back in 1943, for the films Saludos Amigos and Victory Through Air Power, those came in the separate categories of Music Score of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture, and Scoring of a Musical Picture.
In the modern era, where Score is condensed into one category, only Reznor and Ross have been nominated as a duo for two separate films, in the course of one season.
Directed by their longtime collaborator David Fincher, Netflix drama Mank is both a love letter to, and a critique of, Hollywood’s Golden Age, following alcoholic screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz (Gary Oldman), as he finishes the script for Citizen Kane.
Soul, directed by Pete Docter and Kemp Powers, centers on Joe (Jamie Foxx), a frustrated middle-school band teacher who seeks to return to Earth, to realize his dreams of performing as a jazz musician, after a sudden accident separates him from his body.
Sharing their Soul nom with Jon Batiste, Reznor and Ross are on a hot streak. Coming off an Emmys win for Watchmen, the pair (otherwise known for their industrial rock band, Nine Inch Nails) return to Oscars competition, after taking home the statuette for their original score to Fincher’s The Social Network in 2011.
This awards season, both Soul and Mank established themselves as frontrunners for Original Score early on. To date, Reznor and Ross’s score for Soul has won a Golden Globe, along with a Critics’ Choice Award and one from the Society of Composers & Lyricists. Additional noms have come from BAFTA and the Annie Awards.
The duo’s Mank score, meanwhile, has been nominated for a Golden Globe, a BAFTA Award and a Critics’ Choice Award. At the SCL Awards, Reznor and Ross scored two noms for Mank, the latter recognizing their song, “(If Only You Could) Save Me.”
While Reznor and Ross will be difficult to defeat at the Oscars this year, their competitors in the Score category are formidable.
Nominated eight times in the past, James Newton Howard will look for his first win, with his score to the Paul Greengrass Western, News of the World. As the composer behind Minari, Emile Mosseri enters the race for the first time, while Terence Blanchard returns, having secured his first nom for Spike Lee’s prior feature, BlacKkKlansman.