Music is the one of the must-have factors of a movie, being 'instrumental' (see what I did there?) in elevating the scenes and emotions of the characters put on screen. Although John Williams is the best film music composer of all time, my personal favorites are Thomas Newman and Hans Zimmer - the most famous composers at both ends of the musical spectrum, sometimes converging with their styles. Newman is accompanied with some big movies, like The Shawshank Redemption (for which he lost the Oscar to Zimmer for Lion King), American Beauty, Finding Nemo, Wall-E, Skyfall and most recently - Bridge of Spies and Spectre. He belongs to arguably the greatest musical family of all time, with his father Alfred Newman being a famed conductor and composer, having a record of 43 Oscar nominations. Garnering 12 Oscar nods in his career and the most recent one for Bridge for Spies this year, why hasn't Thomas Newman won an Oscar?
The answer to this question might be the years in which he was nominated and his present competitors. Trent Reznor, Danny Elfman and Hans Zimmer seem to be the gargantuan obstacles Newman has to soar over; but he's the first mountain every new high-rise composer has to soar over. His scores are cult memorabilia now - most popular being American Beauty and Meet Joe Black. I can just rant on about American Beauty's score, because it's my most favorite score to date. The use of percussion, zany cues and the gazillion feelings which Newman's score makes you go through... Gah, let's move on.
Newman got a double nomination in 1995, for Shawshank Redemption and Little Women, both of them thrashed away by the boisterous Lion King by Zimmer. He came back on the stage with American Beauty but lost to Red Violin. For me, the most-deserving win for Newman was Wall-E. Even though AR Rahman's work was great, Newman was phenomenal. His second collaboration with Andrew Stanton (first being Finding Nemo), was touching and clandestine. Who can forget Define Dancing? Newman is often accused of plagiarizing himself, the most popular composer under this radar being James Horner (Rest in Peace). The ruse of self-plagiarizing, poor marketing and campaigning during awards season led to Newman's streak, perhaps?
Newman falls behind Alex North (1910-1991) for the greatest Oscar losing streak. His 13th nomination for Bridge of Spies should turn out lucky, as the 7th nod did to Alexandre Desplat last year for The Grand Budapest Hotel (though I believe his work was much better in The Imitation Game). My bet's on Newman alone, and if he doesn't wins this time... Mr.Newman, make a place for the honorary Oscar on your shelf (I feel really bad typing this).