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There are some names that just synonymous with the Academy Awards. Meryl Streep has been nominated 19 times, but she doesn't hold a candle to the composer of some of the great scores in movie history. This morning when the 2018 Academy Award nominations were announced, John Williams received a nod for Best Original Score for his work on Star Wars: The Last Jedi. The nomination marks his 51st personal nomination, more than any person currently living.
John Williams received his first Oscar nomination in 1967 for Valley of the Dolls and received his 50th nomination two years ago for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Fittingly, the composer's 51st nomination comes 51 years after the first one. Williams has averaged a nomination every year since the first one, and while he has gone without a nomination in some years, he rarely goes more than two between noms, and has made up for those empty years by being nominated multiple times in other years. In fact, of the five Oscars Williams has actually won, he's beaten himself once. In 1977 his score for Star Wars beat his score for Close Encounters of the Third Kind. His last win was in 1993 for Schindler's List.
While Williams has more Oscar nominations than anybody living, he's got to write a few more award-worthy scores to overtake the guy who has been nominated more than any other person ever. As SFGate points out, Walt Disney holds the record with 59 total nominations. He also holds the record for the most wins with 22.
John Williams has some stiff competition for his 51st nomination. His score for Star Wars: The Last Jedi will go up against Alexandre Desplat for The Shape of Water, Jonny Greenwood for Phantom Thread, Hans Zimmer for Dunkirk, and Carter Burwell for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. Desplat took home the award at the Golden Globes and is likely considered the frontrunner. The field was identical from an individual standpoint, although in that case, Williams was actually nominated for his score for The Post. This is Greenwood's first nomination in the category. Everybody else has been nominated at least once, and both Desplat and Zimmer have previously won the award.
John Williams is 85-years-old but he's not done working yet. He's already on board to write the score for Star Wars: Episode IX, which has to already be considered likely for an Oscar nomination considering the other two entries in the franchise have done the same. He likely won't match the 59 nominations earned by Walt Disney, but sitting in the same club with him, with over 50 nominations, is pretty exclusive company to keep.