This morning, in a rare feat, composers Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross landed a pair of original music nominations for Soul and Mank.
Throughout the history of cinema, we have often seen a single composer earn two Oscar nominations for different films in the same year. The most recent to do so is Alexandre Desplat, who was nominated in 2014 for both The imitation game and The Grand Budapest Hotel. (Desplat won for this last film).
But composers’ duets are quite another thing.
While Edward Plumb and Paul Smith won two score names in 1943, for the films Saludos Amigos and Victory through air power, these came in the separate categories of the musical score of a dramatic or comic image and the score of a musical image.
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In the modern age, where Score is condensed into one category, only Reznor and Ross have been nominated as a duo for two separate films, within a season.
Directed by longtime collaborator David Fincher, Netflix drama Mank is both a love letter and a critique of Hollywood’s golden age, following the alcoholic screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz (Gary Oldman), as he wraps up the screenplay for Citizen Kane.
Soul, directed by Pete Docter and Kemp Powers, focuses on Joe (Jamie Foxx), a frustrated college band teacher who seeks to return to Earth, to fulfill his dream of playing as a jazz musician, after an accident suddenly separates him from his body.
Sharing their Soul name with Jon Batiste, Reznor and Ross are on the right track. After an Emmy win for Guardians, the duo (otherwise known for their industrial rock band, Nine Inch Nails) return to the Oscars competition, having won the statuette from their original score at Fincher’s Social network in 2011.
This season of rewards, both Soul and Mank quickly established themselves as the pioneers of Original Score. To date, Reznor and Ross’ score for Soul won a Golden Globe, a Critics’ Choice Award and a Society of Composers & Lyricists. Other names have come from the BAFTAs and the Annie Awards.
The duo Mank score, meanwhile, was nominated for a Golden Globe, a BAFTA Award and a Critics’ Choice Award. At the SCL Awards, Reznor and Ross scored two names for Mank, the latter recognizing their song, “(If Only You Could) Save Me.”
While Reznor and Ross will be tough to beat at the Oscars this year, their competitors in the Score category are formidable.
Named eight times in the past, James Newton Howard will seek his first victory, with his score at the Paul Greengrass Western, World news. As a composer behind Minari, Emile Mosseri enters the race for the first time, while Terence Blanchard returns, having obtained his first name for Spike Lee’s previous feature film, BlacKkKlansman.