2023 Academy Awards Predictions — Best Score, Best Song, Best Sound

These are our 2023 Oscar predictions for Best Original Score, Best Original Song, and Best Sound, part of a series on this year’s awards. Check out full predictions in all Oscar categories.

Best Original Score

  • All Quiet on the Western Front
  • Babylon
  • The Banshees of Inisherin
  • Everything Everywhere All at Once
  • The Fabelmans

Will Win: Babylon

Could Win: The Banshees of Inisherin

Dark Horse: The Fabelmans

Despite its excessively splashy subject matter, Babylon did not make a splash this Oscar season. The one place where it is likely to win is here, in Best Score. Justin Hurwitz is an Academy favorite, and this jazzy score is so vibrant and is painted all across this epic-length film that I find it unlikely to be beat. Sometimes, the “more is better” mentality rules these craft categories; score is no different. Babylon certainly has the most score of these five, but the score is also fairly good. The tone of the film depends on it.

Meanwhile, a more somber and low-key score from Carter Burwell in Banshees is the opposite end of this spectrum. Burwell has never won an Oscar, and this is just his third nomination. I don’t know if the Academy appreciates his work enough, but that’s just my opinion (he should have won for Carol, by the way).

Once we move away from these two, the race becomes murkier. All Quiet on the Western Front has a domineering score that people will at least notice. The Fabelmans has a steady, flourishing score, and it is never a wholly bad idea to bet on John Williams. The band Son Lux and Everything Everywhere is the outlier. The film’s success could propel Son Lux to a win, but I don’t have much confidence in this narrative. The Academy generally goes for more conventional composers (Trent Reznor notwithstanding).

Best Original Song

  • Black Panther: Wakanda Forever – “Lift Me Up”
  • Everything Everywhere All at Once – “This is a Life”
  • RRR – “Naatu Naatu”
  • Tell it Like a Woman – “Applause”
  • Top Gun: Maverick – “Hold My Hand”

Will Win: RRR

Could Win: Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

Dark Horse: Top Gun: Maverick

Will Diane Warren ever win a competitive Oscar? She won an honorary award this year but has never taken home a Best Original Song award. Well, I don’t think she wins it this year, either. Hers is Tell it Like a Woman’s only nomination. Tell it has already become a meme for being a film no one has ever heard of. While that hardly matters for a Best Song race, the competition in this category is tough this year.

I think RRR’s “Naatu Naatu” takes this in a walk. The film was a massive success and many people love it. The fact that it got into this race is evidence that (a) the team behind the film had a savvy campaign for it, and (b) the Academy knows this exists and appreciates it for its extravagance. It might seem unlikely that RRR would beat out Rihanna and Lady Gaga, but it is a distinct possibility.

If not this, then Black Panther has a great shot. Rihanna is having a moment; with her recent Super Bowl halftime show and pregnancy announcement, she is in the zeitgeist right now in a way that none of the other performers in this category are. Sometimes, these things make a difference.

Best Sound

  • All Quiet on the Western Front
  • Avatar: The Way of Water
  • The Batman
  • Elvis
  • Top Gun: Maverick

Will Win: All Quiet on the Western Front

Could Win: Top Gun: Maverick

Dark Horse: Elvis

This one is kind of a tossup. Don’t expect The Batman or Avatar: The Way of Water to walk away with this. As for the others, most are currently predicting Top Gun: Maverick. And I don’t disagree with this choice. Top Gun is what should win out of these five, and I would not be surprised in the slightest if it did.

That said, All Quiet on the Western Front is all poised to pick up multiple awards. The craft categories are really where it is going to shine, and this category is no exception. Then again, maybe I am over-valuing this film, which is certainly not something I thought I would ever be saying two months ago. Elvis isn’t out of this race, either. Elvis did well in the nominations game. Music-themed films do well in this category. But so do war movies. Just saying.

One of these three will take Best Sound. Safe money is on Top Gun. But I don’t think it’s as simple as that.

As always, thanks for reading!

—Alex Brannan (Twitter, Letterboxd, Facebook)


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