Colin Firth ain't the only one riding The King's Speech to an "overdue" Oscar win. Or, at least, he's not the most arguably overdue for the award from within The King's Speech's fold. After all, Firth, let it be reiterated, was nominated for his first (his first) Academy Award last year and predictably lost to an unawarded Hollywood institution who was on his fifth nomination. To hear people spin it this year, you'd think that one, solitary loss constituted an injustice on the scale of Meryl Streep's last three losses combined. In contrast, Alexandre Desplat has suffered three losses so far in this category in four years (for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Fantastic Mr. Fox, and The Queen), and is frequently snubbed for arguably superior efforts (i.e. Birth, The Painted Veil, or even this year's The Ghost Writer).
Yes, it's fortuitous that he's hitched up to a potential Oscar juggernaut this time around, and we probably aren't alone in thinking his last, icier set of cues in service of the monarchy were more crisply rendered than his Beethoven pastiches this time around, but there's no denying he has rapidly emerged as one of the foremost composers of the moment—a designation that only Oscar seems convinced can also be applied to A.R. Rahman, who got another set of nominations for 127 Hours.
John Powell's themes for How to Train Your Dragon are alternately cute and rousing, and Trent Reznor's touch on The Social Network proved people like me right for thinking the instrumentals in The Fragile would make a great soundtrack. But the only score that seems even remotely capable of toppling The King's Speech is Hans Zimmer's incredibly literal-minded, four-chord musical accompaniment to Christopher Nolan's four-zone Inception. Compared to Zimmer's delightful work on last year's Sherlock Holmes, Inception is a thudding migraine. But it's also the only score in this lineup to inspire its own red button.
Will Win: The King's Speech
Could Win: Inception
Should Win: The Social Network