Two categories which go together hand-in-hand are Best Original Song and Best Original Score. Historically, nominees in the Best Original Song category have performed before the award is presented.
Best Original Song
Will win: Shallow (A Star is Born)
Should win: Shallow (A Star is Born)
Also nominated: All the Stars (Black Panther), I’ll Fight (RBG), The Place Where Lost Things Go (Mary Poppins Returns), When A Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings (The Ballad of Buster Scruggs)
Lady Gaga and Mark Ronson’s Shallow is the odds-on favourite in this category, and rightly so. It is a song of great emotional resonance and truth, a conversation between two lost souls which builds emphatically to an earth-shattering climax and expression of self.
Unlike the other nominees and their relationships with their respective films, A Star is Born could not exist without Shallow. It is the beating heart of the film, the moment around which the story is built. In the few months since its release, it has become a cultural phenomenon, and the Academy Award for Best Original Song deserves to be its crowning achievement. This one isn’t even close.
Best Original Score
Will win: If Beale Street Could Talk
Should win: If Beale Street Could Talk
Also nominated: Black Panther, Isle of Dogs, Mary Poppins Returns
Nicholas Britell’s soundtrack for If Beale Street Could Talk has steadily emerged as the favourite to win the Academy Award for Best Original Score and, although the category is far from clear-cut, it’s easy to see why. The sadness of its piano chords and its slow, aching strings are uplifted by soft melodies which affirm the film’s message. As far as competition goes, Marc Shaiman’s soundtrack to Mary Poppins Returns is the obvious choice, but Terence Blanchard’s stellar work for BlacKkKlansman is certainly worthy of merit, even though it appears to have flown under the radar this awards season.