Oscar Watch: Original score contenders

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Alexandre Desplat
"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"
Pros: In an effort to capture the "aging in reverse" spirit of the material, Desplat says the theme can be played both forward and backward.
Cons: Unfortunately, when played backward, it sounds just like the "Forrest Gump" theme.
Alexandre Desplat
James Newton Howard
"Defiance"

Pros: Newton Howard is one of the best in the business, but despite eight noms since 1992 he's never taken home the gold. The Academy might decide it's time correct that, and this powerful score is certainly worthy.
Cons:
The film hasn't exactly caught fire at the boxoffice, but as veteran Oscar watchers know -- never, ever count out a Holocaust drama.
  James Newton Howard
Danny Elfman
"Milk"
Pros: Elfman once again puts his versatility on display, with a poignant, evocative effort that never overplays its hand. The fact that the film is one of the most acclaimed of the year doesn't hurt either.
Cons: None really, unless you count lactose-intolerant voters.
Danny Elfman
A.R. Rahman
"Slumdog Millionaire"
Pros: Rahman's soaring music is as critical to the film's success as Danny Boyle's feverish direction or Dev Patel's endearing performance.
Cons: If he doesn't win, it might infuriate all of India, and maybe even a little bit of Pakistan. Do we really need that right now?
  A.R. Rahman
Thomas Newman
"WALL-E"
Pros: Like Newton Howard, Newman has been nominated eight times without taking home a statue, but his inventive, playful score could easily land him in onstage come Oscar night.
Cons: If only the film had been a hit...
Thomas Newman
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