What are the Oscar-winning best scores of the last 10 years? Jonathan Ross counts them down

28 February 2024, 15:08

Jonathan Ross recaps the last 10 years of Oscar-winning film scores! | Classic FM

By Siena Linton

With the 2024 Academy Awards on the horizon, Jonathan Ross takes a look back at all the winners of the Best Original Score Oscar from the past 10 years.

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The excitement is bubbling up ahead of one of the glitziest showbiz events of the year, and all eyes are on the Oscars ahead of the 96th Academy Awards ceremony on Sunday 10 March.

Could Oppenheimer break the record for most Oscar wins by a single film, from its 13 nominations? Will Bradley Cooper become the third person in cinematic history to win best actor in a self-directed film for his Leonard Bernstein biopic Maestro?

And, perhaps most importantly, who will take home the golden statuette for Best Original Score, in 2024?

It’s a competitive award category this year, with nominations for John Williams, Ludwig Göransson, Laura Karpman, Jerskin Fendrix and Robbie Robertson.

Read more: All of John Williams’ 54 Oscar nominations so far – including five wins

Ahead of hosting the UK broadcast of the Academy Awards this year, Classic FM at the Movies presenter and Reel Talk podcast host Jonathan Ross takes a look at the 10 Oscar-winning scores of the last decade.

Watch Jonathan’s expert assessment in the video above, and discover the movies and their iconic soundtracks below.

  1. Stephen Price – Gravity (2014)

    Stephen Price’s haunting work for Alfonso Cuarón’s 2013 film Gravity took home the Oscar for best original score in 2014.

    Price described creating the soundtrack as “the most intense and experimental experience,” detailing how he blew up a synth whilst processing the sound of a trumpet. He said it made such a “great, indescribable and unrepeatable sound” that it earned itself a place as one of Price’s favourite moments in the final soundtrack.


  2. Alexandre Desplat – The Grand Budapest Hotel (2015)

    Alexandre Desplat’s score to The Grand Budapest Hotel is typical of the traditional music of the Republic of Zubrowka. Or it would be, if the country existed.

    Instead, Desplat drew from Central European influences, from Czechia to Hungary, Poland and Germany, to create a rich musical tradition for the fictional nation.

    He worked with 50 French and Russian balalaika players, with the help of two translators, to record the delightfully whimsical score, which also features zithers, cimbaloms, and gigantic alpine horns.

    Mr. Moustafa

  3. Ennio Morricone – The Hateful Eight (2016)

    2015’s The Hateful Eight won Ennio Morricone his first ever competitive Oscar, making him the oldest person ever to win an Academy Award at 87 years old.

    When Quentin Tarantino asked Morricone to score the film he initially turned the opportunity down, but eventually agreed on the condition that he would only write 25 minutes of music. The rest of the score uses previously unheard tracks originally written for 1982’s The Thing.

    Read more: The utterly joyous sound of a ukulele orchestra playing Morricone’s ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly’

    Overture (From "The Hateful Eight" Soundtrack)

  4. Justin Hurwitz – La La Land (2017)

    Justin Hurwitz undertook an incredibly lengthy and devoted process for his score to La La Land, starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone.

    Hurwitz sent just short of 2000 piano demos to director Damien Chazelle. The ones he liked were transformed into themes, then sent on to the film’s production team for their thoughts. If they were still liked after weeks – sometimes even months – Hurwitz would begin work orchestrating the themes for the final soundtrack.

    Thankfully, all this hard work paid off, and he was awarded the Oscar for best original score in 2017.

    Read more: The ‘La La Land’ theme sounds completely exquisite on harp

    Mia & Sebastian’s Theme

  5. Alexandre Desplat – The Shape of Water (2018)

    Somewhat fittingly, Alexandre Desplat first discussed the possibility of The Shape of Water with director Guillermo del Toro over sushi.

    Inspired by his teenage years growing up in the Caribbean, Desplat crafted an immersive aquatic soundworld using pianos and flutes to create what he called a “blurred underwater sound.”

    Elisa's Theme

  6. Ludwig Göransson – Black Panther (2019)

    Ludwig Göransson’s sensational score for Black Panther earned him his first best original score nomination and win in 2019.

    Travelling to Senegal and South Africa to research their musical traditions and instruments, Göransson also took inspiration from superhero epics, J.S. Bach, and his own previous work with Childish Gambino, the rap alter ego of actor Donald Glover.

    Ludwig Göransson - Wakanda (From "Black Panther"/Official Audio) ft. Baaba Maal

  7. Hildur Guðnadóttir – Joker (2020)

    Hildur Guðnadóttir’s work for Joker is one of the greatest examples of how creative minds can come together to create a movie greater than the sum of their parts.

    Unusually for Hollywood, Guðnadóttir began work on parts of the score before it had even been filmed. Director Todd Phillips played the music for Joaquin Phoenix’s transformation into the Joker on set, inspiring Phoenix to improvise a dance.

    The bathroom dance scene became one of the most defining moments of the entire film, and earned both Phoenix and Guðnadóttir a golden statue at the 2020 Academy Awards.

    Read more: Hildur Guðnadóttir wins the Best Original Score Oscar for ‘Joker’

    Joker Official Soundtrack | Bathroom Dance - Hildur Guðnadóttir | WaterTower

  8. Jon Batiste, Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross – Soul (2021)

    Ross and Reznor’s original score to Soul is a beautifully ethereal ambient soundtrack, the perfect musical setting for the Pixar film as it deals with life, and all that comes before and after.

    Jon Batiste contributed an equally contemplative jazz soundtrack for the film’s New York cityscape, and also contributed to an animation marvel. Pixar’s animators used video of Batiste playing piano to see how his hands and fingers moved, mapping them against a colour map of the keys being played, to build a note perfect Oscar-winning animation.

    Read more: Pixar animation ‘Soul’: who composed the jazz music and how to stream the soundtrack

    Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross - Epiphany (From "Soul"/Audio Only)

  9. Hans Zimmer – Dune: Part 1 (2022)

    For an epic futuristic movie like Dune, there’s only one composer to call for the soundtrack.

    Hans Zimmer constructed a monolithic soundscape using custom-built metal houses, PVC flutes, cellos made to sound like Tibetan war horns, and a distinctive, bone-chilling vocal performance from Loire Cotler.

    Read more: Hans Zimmer wins Oscar for ‘Dune’, accepts award in his dressing gown

    Hans Zimmer Performs the Dune Soundtrack LIVE

  10. Volker Bertelmann – All Quiet on the Western Front (2023)

    For his score to World War One drama All Quiet on the Western Front, Volker Bertelmann sourced instruments from the era to play on the soundtrack. He found a century-old harmonium, owned by his great grandmother, and used it to play three huge distorted notes which became a key part of the score.

    Director Edward Berger’s only instruction to Bertelmann was that he wanted a score that “destroyed” the picture rather than complementing it; a theme for the main protagonist that represented the bottomless feeling in his stomach while in the trenches, and to feature snare drums played by somebody who can't play the snares.

    Read more: All Quiet on the Western Front wins Oscar for Best Original Score at the 95th Academy Awards