Discover the first nominees for the 21st World Soundtrack Awards!
Film Composer of the Year 2021
As announced earlier this spring, documentary scores are now also eligible in all film score categories. Best known for her acclaimed work on documentaries such as For Sama, Nainita Desai is nominated for Film Composer of the Year for her scores for the documentaries American Murder: The Family Next Door, Persona: The Dark Truth behind Personality Tests and The Reason I Jump. James Newton Howard, a former guest of honour at the WSAwards and Film Composer of the Year 2008, is nominated for his scores for News of the World and Raya and the Last Dragon. Oscar nominee Emile Mosseri joins the competition with Kajillionaire, which figured in Film Fest Ghent’s Official Competition last year, and Minari. Daniel Pemberton, Film Composer of the Year at the 2020 IFMCA Awards, is also acknowledged for his body of work this year, including Enola Holmes, Rising Phoenix and The Trial of the Chicago 7. No stranger to the WSA, Pemberton won the WSA Discovery of the Year 2014 and has already been nominated twice before for Film Composer of the Year. Finally, Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross and Jon Batiste, already Oscar winners for Best Original Score with Soul, are now in the running for the WSA Film Composer of the Year award as well. Last year, the duo Reznor and Ross were nominated in the Television Composer of the Year category.
Meet the nominees
Nainita Desai is a trailblazer in the world of documentary, having brought her unique voice to the scores of hundreds of acclaimed documentaries, including Academy Award and Cannes winning film For Sama. Her recent scores include Kevin MacDonald’s The Day That Changed Britain (2021) and John Dower’s Sophie: A Murder in West Cork (2021).
Following a degree in Maths and studying sound for film at the NFTS in the UK, Nainita began her career as a sound designer on feature films for directors including Werner Herzog and Bertolucci, as well as being an assistant music engineer to Peter Gabriel. She moves seamlessly between working with orchestras, to creating scores that incorporate electronics, ethnic elements and found sound, all of which has informed her experimental and deeply immersive approach to composition.
James Newton Howard
One of the most versatile and respected composers currently working in film, James Newton Howard’s career spans over thirty years. He has composed music for over 120 films, including the Academy Award-nominated scores for The Village, The Fugitive and My Best Friend’s Wedding, and Academy Award-nominated songs for Junior and One Fine Day. Howard also received a Golden Globe nomination for his massive orchestral score for Peter Jackson’s blockbuster remake of King Kong.
Howard won the 2009 Grammy Award for his co-score with Hans Zimmer for The Dark Knight, and received a Grammy Award nomination for music from Blood Diamond. In addition, he received an Emmy nomination for the theme to the long-running series ER. In 2008, the World Soundtrack Awards named him Film Composer of the Year.
Emile Mosseri is an award-winning composer, pianist, singer and producer who has quickly made a name for himself in the world of film and television scoring with his song-based approach to crafting emotionally-stirring compositions. He made his feature film score debut with Sundance standout The Last Black Man in San Francisco (2019). A breakout moment for the young composer, the sweepingly romantic score cemented Mosseri as a sought-after collaborator, next joining director Miranda July for her Kajillionaire (2020).
Meanwhile, Mosseri’s television credits include Terence Nance’s HBO series Random Acts of Flyness as well as season 2 of Amazon’s Homecoming. Mosseri’s latest project is director Lee Isaac Chung’s family drama Minari. The score has earned Mosseri an Academy Award nomination.
Daniel Pemberton has scored projects for Ridley Scott (All The Money In The World), Danny Boyle (Yesterday, Steve Jobs), Aaron Sorkin (The Trial Of The Chicago 7, Molly’s Game), Darren Aronofsky (One Strange Rock), Edward Norton (Motherless Brooklyn), Louis Leterrier (Dark Crystal: Age Of Resistance) and Guy Ritchie (The Man From UNCLE).
His unusual and innovative arrangements and incredibly bold styles of composing and production have seen the soundtracks constantly singled out for critical acclaim, whether they are studio films such as such as the Oscar winning Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse, Birds Of Prey, Enola Holmes and Oceans 8 or smaller independent features. He was previously honoured as Discovery of The Year at the World Soundtrack Awards in 2014 and nominated as Film Composer Of The Year in 2016 and 2019.
Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross & Jon Batiste
Nine Inch Nails duo Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross have become in-demand composers. They have scored many of David Fincher’s films such as The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Gone Girl and The Social Network, for which they won an Academy Award for Best Original Score. Other scoring credits include Jonah Hill’s mid90s (2018) and the critically acclaimed drama Waves (2019). In 2021 they received two Academy Award nominations for their scores for David Fincher’s Mank and Pixar’s Soul, the latter of which they share with Jon Batiste.
Since 2015, Jon Batiste has been the bandleader and musical director for CBS' The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. He has toured the globe with his own Stay Human ensemble and issued releases like 2013's chart-topping jazz album Social Music. He has also scored films, such as Spike Lee's Red Hook Summer and 2020's animated Pixar movie Soul.
Television Composer of the Year 2021
This year’s best scores for television series are acknowledged as well. Christophe Beck is nominated for his work on WandaVision and Nicholas Britell figures among the nominees with The Underground Railroad. Britell has been a consistent winner at the World Soundtrack Awards, having previously won Discovery of the Year 2017, Film Composer of the Year 2019 and Television Composer of the Year 2020. Ludwig Göransson’s work for The Mandalorian (Season 2) received a nomination as well. Newcomers Natalie Holt for Loki (Season 1) and Carlos Rafael Rivera for Hacks (Season 1) and The Queen’s Gambit complete the list of nominees.
Meet the nominees
Upon graduation from Yale, Canadian composer Christophe Beck moved to Los Angeles to attend USC’s prestigious film scoring program, where he studied with Jerry Goldsmith. A personal recommendation from the legendary Buddy Baker, then head of the USC Music Department, led to his first assignment for a Canadian TV series called White Fang.
Several TV series later, he was asked to score the second season of WB Network’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer. In 2000, the cheerleading comedy Bring It On launched Beck’s film career, which includes such diverse credits as Under The Tuscan Sun, Edge of Tomorrow, Crazy Stupid Love, Pitch Perfect, and the Hangover trilogy. More recently, Beck scored the Oscar and Grammy-winning film Frozen, both of Marvel’s Ant-Man films and Marvel's WandaVision.
Composer and pianist Nicholas Britell is known for his critically acclaimed scores on feature films with writer-directors Barry Jenkins and Adam McKay. In 2016, he was responsible for the score for Jenkins' Best Picture winner Moonlight. The year prior, he wrote the score for McKay’s The Big Short. In 2018, Britell scored Jenkins’ If Beale Street Could Talk and McKay’s Vice. His most recent film work is the score for Disney’s Cruella. For television, he won an Emmy for Succession's title theme. Most recently, he scored Jenkins’ limited series The Underground Railroad.
In 2019, Britell was honoured by the World Soundtrack Awards as Film Composer of the Year. In 2020, the World Soundtrack Awards honoured Britell with the TV Composer of the Year Award for Succession.
Swedish composer, conductor, and record producer Ludwig Göransson met director Ryan Coogler at the University of Southern California. The pair have collaborated on various films, such as Coogler’s debut Fruitvale Station (2013) and Creed (2015). For his work on the 2018 superhero film Black Panther - another collaboration with Coogler - Göransson won a Grammy and an Academy Award. In 2019, Göransson scored Christopher Nolan’s ambitious blockbuster Tenet.
He also scored many American TV series such as New Girl, The Mandalorian and the cult comedy series Community. He frequently collaborates with Donald Glover’s music project Childish Gambino, which earned him six Grammy Award nominations. He has also worked with other recording artists such as Haim, Chance the Rapper and Alicia Keys.
Natalie Holt's film and television credits include the Marvel television series Loki, the BBC’s Wallander (starring Kenneth Branagh), Knightfall (starring Mark Hamill), Paddington (starring Hugh Bonneville) and Deadwater Fell (starring David Tennant). She co-scored the WW1 film Journey’s End with Oscar winner Hildur Guðnadóttir (Joker), The Honourable Woman and Victoria with Martin Phipps (The Crown) and composed additional music for Hans Zimmer and Martin Phipps on the film Woman in Gold.
An accomplished violinist and violist, she has performed at the Royal Albert Hall and the closing ceremony of the Olympic Games. She is known for her experimental string-based scores, on which she plays violin, piano and vintage synthesizer, as well as for her large orchestral music.
Carlos Rafael Rivera
Carlos Rafael Rivera is an Emmy-winning composer whose career has spanned several genres of the music industry. His work for film and TV includes scores for Netflix’ Godless, his award-winning score for The Queen’s Gambit, for which he garnered an Emmy nomination, the hit TV show Hacks for HBO Max, as well as the upcoming Just Beyond for Disney+.
As a guitarist, he has performed onstage as opening act for The Who at the Hollywood Bowl, recorded studio sessions for Island/Def Jam, and Universal Records, and had songs featured on feature soundtracks (Crash, Dragonfly), as well as Netflix’s Firefly Lane and ABC’s Scrubs. He is Assistant Professor and Director of the Media Scoring and Production Program at the acclaimed Frost School of Music at the University of Miami.
Best Original Song
Among the songs competing for Best Original Song (this year six songs instead of five due to an ex aequo) are “Call me Cruella” (from Disney's Cruella) written by Nicholas Britell, Florence Welch, Jordan Powers, Steph Jones and Taura Stinson, and Oscar-winning “Fight for You” (from Judas and the Black Messiah) written by H.E.R., Dernst Emile II and Tiara Thomas. The Oscar-nominated “Hear My Voice” (from The Trial of the Chicago 7) written by Daniel Pemberton and Celeste Waite and “Húsavík (My Hometown)” (from Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga) written by Savan Kotecha, Rickard Göransson and Fat Max Gsus are also in the running. Finally, “Loyal Brave True” (from Disney's Mulan) written by Jamie Hartman, Harry Gregson-Williams, Rosi Golan and Billy Crabtree and “Rain Song” (from Minari) written by Emile Mosseri have a chance of becoming the WSA Best Original Song 2021.
Overview of the nominees
Film Composer of the Year
Nainita Desai - American Murder: The Family Next Door, Persona: The Dark Truth behind Personality Tests, The Reason I Jump
James Newton Howard - News of the World, Raya and the Last Dragon
Emile Mosseri - Kajillionaire, Minari
Daniel Pemberton - Enola Holmes, Rising Phoenix, The Trial of the Chicago 7
Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross & Jon Batiste - Soul
Television Composer of the Year
Christophe Beck - WandaVision
Nicholas Britell - The Underground Railroad
Ludwig Göransson - The Mandalorian (Season 2)
Natalie Holt - Loki (Season 1)
Carlos Rafael Rivera - Hacks (Season 1), The Queen’s Gambit
Best Original Song
“Call me Cruella”, from Cruella - written by Nicholas Britell, Florence Welch, Steph Jones, Jordan Powers and Taura Stinson
“Fight for You”, from Judas and the Black Messiah - written by H.E.R., Dernst Emile II & Tiara Thomas.
“Hear My Voice”, from The Trial of the Chicago 7 - written by Daniel Pemberton & Celeste Waite
“Húsavík (My Hometown)”, from Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga - written by Savan Kotecha, Rickard Göransson & Fat Max Gsus
“Loyal Brave True”, from Disney's Mulan - written by Jamie Hartman, Harry Gregson-Williams, Rosi Golan & Billy Crabtree
“Rain Song”, from Minari - written by Emile Mosseri