15 17 Oct '24

Nicholas Britell

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WSAcademy: WSA Voting Member

Academy Award-nominated composer and pianist Nicholas Britell is known for his critically acclaimed scores on feature films with close collaborators, Academy-Award winners Barry Jenkins and Adam McKay. His most recent work includes the score for Jenkins’ If Beale Street Could Talk (2018) for which he received his second Academy Award nomination as well as a BAFTA and Critics Choice nomination, and was awarded Best Original Score by numerous critics’ groups, including LA, Boston, Chicago and Washington DC Film Critics Association, New York Film Critics Online and the Online Film Critics Association. In 2018, he also wrote the score for McKay’s Vice, starring Christian Bale, which went on to receive eight Academy Award nominations

In 2016, Britell was responsible for the world-renowned score for Best Picture winner Moonlight, written and directed by Jenkins. Britell received his first Academy Award, Golden Globe and Critics Choice nominations for Moonlight as well as the 2016 Hollywood Music in Media Award for Best Original Score (Dramatic Feature). The year prior, he wrote the score for McKay’s much-nominated The Big Short, based on Michael Lewis’s best-selling book.

Britell’s music featured in Steve McQueen’s Best Picture winning 12 Years A Slave, for which he composed and arranged the on-camera music, including the violin performances, spiritual songs, work songs, and dances. He went on to work with McQueen on McQueen’s art installation Caribs' Leap, which featured as part of the “Master of Light – Robby Müller” retrospective at the Eye film museum in Amsterdam. Other original film score credits include Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton’s Battle of the Sexes, for which he also wrote and produced original song, “If I Dare” with singer Sara Bareilles; Natalie Portman’s A Tale of Love and Darkness; Adam Leon’s Gimme the Loot (winner of the 2012 SXSW Grand Jury Prize); Leon’s Tramps; Gary Ross’ Free State of Jones and Jack Pettibone Riccobono’s documentary The Seventh Fire.

For television, Britell scored McKay and Jesse Armstrong's critically-acclaimed HBO series Succession, for which he won the 2019 Emmy for Outstanding Original Main Title Theme as well as the 2018 Hollywood Music in Media Award for Best Original Score (TV Show/Limited Series). He recently finished the highly-anticipated second season of Succession. Upcoming projects include writing the score for Amazon’s Underground Railroad series, directed and adapted by Barry Jenkins from Colson Whitehead’s Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award for Fiction winning novel of the same name. Britell is also working on a HBO pilot with McKay, based on Jeff Pearlman’s non-fiction book ’Showtime: Magic, Kareem, Riley and the Los Angeles Lakers Dynasty of the 1980s’ and Benjamin Millepied’s feature debut Carmen, a re-imagining of one of the world’s most celebrated operas.

In October 2017, Britell was awarded the “Discovery of the Year” Award at the World Soundtrack Awards in Ghent, Belgium, as well as the Distinguished Composer Award from the Middleburg Film Festival. In May 2019, Britell was awarded - with music supervisor Gabe Hilfer - the first-ever ASCAP Harmony Award celebrating outstanding collaborative achievement between composers and music supervisors.

Britell is a Steinway Artist and is a Founding Member of L.A. Dance Project. He is Chairman of the Board of the New York-based ensemble Decoda, the first-ever affiliate ensemble of Carnegie Hall. He was awarded the Henry Mancini Fellowship from the ASCAP Foundation in December 2012 and also won the ASCAP/Doddle Award for Collaborative Achievement. In December 2018, it was announced that Britell will be part of Esa-Pekka Salonen's newly-formed creative collective "brain trust" as Salonen takes the reins as music director of the San Francisco Symphony.

For the past eight years, Britell has been performing as part of the “Portals” project with violinist Tim Fain. In fact, Britell has been performing for audiences from a very young age, giving his first public recital at the age of 10. He was a student of the late Jane Carlson at the Juilliard School. His recent public performances have included concerts at London’s Barbican Hall, the Million Dollar Theatre in Los Angeles, and at Chicago’s Ravinia.

As a producer, Britell produced Damien Chazelle’s short film Whiplash, which won the Jury Award for Best US Fiction Short at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. Following the initial success of the short, he served as co-producer on the Oscar-nominated feature film Whiplash which won Sundance’s 2014 Jury Prize and Audience Award.

Britell is an honors and Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Harvard University, as well as a piano performance graduate of the Juilliard School’s Pre-College Division. He returned in May 2016 as the Pre-College's commencement speaker.


  • Television Composer of the Year 2022: Nicholas Britell (Succession - season 3)
  • Best Original Song 2021: "Call Me Cruella" from Disney's Cruella (by Nicholas Britell, Florence Welch, Steph Jones, Jordan Powers & Taura Stinson)
  • Television Composer of the Year 2020: Nicholas Britell (Succession - season 2)
  • Film Composer of the Year 2019: Nicholas Britell (If Beale Street Could Talk; Vice)
  • Discovery of the Year 2017: Nicholas Britell (Moonlight)

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