Only one of my own Best Original Score nominees went on to be nominated for the Oscar, but that doesn't undercut what a diverse year it's been for film music. The other four that found room on the Academy's slate are quite terrific, even if they didn't find room on mine:
Anna Karenina (Dario Marianelli):
Filtering a handful of beautiful themes through numerous lush arrangements, Marianelli lends a ravishing voice of passion to the underlying emotions that aren't always easily accessible via the somewhat chilly performances.
Beasts of the Southern Wild (Benh Zeitlin, Dan Romer):
Zeitlin and Romer's neo-folksy bayou music (craftily mixed together from individually recorded instruments) is as memorable a presence as any of the characters. Even with limitations on orchestral complexity, it runs the gamut of emotion.
Brave (Patrick Doyle):
Doyle, only Pixar's fourth composer, provides a rich Celtic score to stand alongside the studio's proud musical legacy. His robust assemblage of bagpipes, fiddles, and bodhran add terrific flavour to his sweeping themes.
The Dark Knight Rises (Hans Zimmer):
This mighty, bass-driven score (buttressed by compositions from the previous two films) powerfully ties together what will go down as one of the great modern film trilogies. For his influential collective work on all three instalments, Zimmer surely deserves recognition.
Rise of the Guardians (Alexandre Desplat):
Features some of Desplat's most voluminous orchestrations to date, but none devoid of his typical European nuance. The “Still Dream” melody is as lovely a central theme as he's come up with. This has been an outstanding year for him: Argo, Moonrise Kingdom, Zero Dark Thirty, Rust and Bone; all excellent work.
Just missed: The Master, Cloud Atlas, Lincoln, Skyfall, anything else by Alexandre Desplat