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Thomas Newman
Newman at 2010 Classic Brit Awards
Background information
Birth nameThomas Montgomery Newman
Born (1955-10-20) October 20, 1955 (age 65)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
OriginLos Angeles, California, U.S.
Occupation(s)Film score composer
InstrumentsPiano, violin
Years active1979–present

Thomas Montgomery Newman (born October 20, 1955) is an American composer best known for his many film scores. In a career that has spanned over four decades, he has scored numerous classics including The Player, The Shawshank Redemption, Cinderella Man, American Beauty, The Green Mile, In the Bedroom, Angels in America, Finding Nemo, Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, WALL-E, the James Bond films Skyfall, Spectre, and the war film 1917.

Newman has been nominated for fifteen Academy Awards, tying him with fellow composer Alex North for the most nominations without a win. He has also been nominated for four Golden Globes, and has won two BAFTAs, six Grammys and an Emmy Award. Newman was honored with the Richard Kirk award at the 2000 BMI Film and TV Awards. The award is given annually to a composer who has made significant contributions to film and television music.[1] His achievements have contributed to the Newmans being the most nominated Academy Award extended family, with a collective 92 nominations in various music categories.

Personal life

Born in Los Angeles, California, Newman is the youngest son of Martha Louis Montgomery (1920–2005) and composer Alfred Newman (1900–1970), who won the Academy Award for Best Original Score nine times. He is a member of a film-scoring dynasty in Hollywood that includes his father Alfred, older brother David Newman, younger sister Maria Newman, uncles Lionel Newman and Emil Newman, cousin Randy Newman (also known as a singer and songwriter), and his first cousin, once removed, Joey Newman. His paternal grandparents were Russian Jewish immigrants,[2] and his mother was from Mississippi.

During their upbringing, Martha Newman took her sons to violin lessons in the San Fernando Valley every weekend.[3] Newman later studied composition and orchestration for two years at the University of Southern California,[4] before transferring to Yale University, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in 1977 and a Master of Music in 1978.[5] While at Yale, he met composer Stephen Sondheim, who became an early mentor.[3]

Newman and his wife Ann Marie have three children. They reside in the Pacific Palisades neighborhood of Los Angeles.


At first, Newman was more interested in musical theater than in film composition, working with Sondheim in Broadway plays.[6] Lionel, who succeeded Alfred as music director for 20th Century Fox, gave Thomas his first scoring assignment on a 1979 episode of the series The Paper Chase.[1] In 1983, John Williams, who was a friend of both Alfred and Lionel, invited Newman to work on Return of the Jedi, orchestrating the scene where Darth Vader dies.[7] Afterwards Newman met producer Scott Rudin in New York City and Rudin invited him to compose the score for Reckless (1984). Newman said that he thought "it was a tough job, at first" for requiring him to "develop vocabularies and a sense of procedure", only getting comfortable with writing scores "and not fraudulent in my efforts" after 8 years.[8]

In 1992, Newman composed the score for Robert Altman's The Player and Martin Brest's Scent of a Woman.

In 1994, he received his first Academy Award nominations with the scores for Frank Darabont's The Shawshank Redemption and Gillian Armstrong's Little Women.[6] He also scored Jon Avnet's The War. In 1996, he scored Diane Keaton's Unstrung Heroes, receiving yet another Oscar nomination. In 1998, he scored Robert Redford's The Horse Whisperer as well as Martin Brest's Meet Joe Black. In 1999, Newman composed the score to Sam Mendes' first feature film American Beauty, created using mainly percussion instruments. Newman believed the score helped move the film along without disturbing the "moral ambiguity" of the script, saying "It was a real delicate balancing act in terms of what music worked to preserve that.".[9] He received a fourth Oscar nomination for this score, and although he lost again (to John Corigliano for The Red Violin), he did receive a Grammy and a BAFTA.

His critical and commercial success continued in the years to follow with his scores for films such as Steven Soderbergh's Erin Brockovich, and Todd Field's In the Bedroom. He was nominated consecutively for a further three Academy Awards, for Sam Mendes' Road to Perdition (2002), Andrew Stanton's Finding Nemo (2003), and Brad Silberling's Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004). However, he lost on each occasion to Elliot Goldenthal (for Frida), Howard Shore (for The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King), and Jan A. P. Kaczmarek (for Finding Neverland).

In 2006 he teamed once again with Todd Field for Little Children and Steven Soderbergh for The Good German (he was nominated for latter). At the Oscar ceremony, he appeared in the opening segment by Errol Morris, who jokingly stated that Newman had been nominated for and failed to win an Oscar eight times. Newman replied: "No, I've failed seven but this will be my eighth", and indeed, he again lost, this time to Gustavo Santaolalla for Babel.

His first score since The Good German was for Alan Ball's Towelhead. In 2008 he scored the animated film WALL-E, collaborating for the second time with director Andrew Stanton (with the first collaboration being Finding Nemo). The film won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature (as had Nemo). Newman received two Oscar nominations: one for Best Original Score, and another for Best Original Song for "Down to Earth", which he co-wrote with Peter Gabriel. He was nominated in the Original Score category with two other veteran composers, James Newton Howard and Danny Elfman, both of whom have also been nominated for several Oscars but each time unsuccessfully. Newman lost both the score and song nominations to A R Rahman for his work on Slumdog Millionaire. He and Peter Gabriel did however win a Grammy for "Down to Earth".

In 2008 he also scored Sam Mendes' Revolutionary Road. In 2009, he scored Jim Sheridan's Brothers (the remake of the Susanne Bier film). In 2011, he scored Tate Taylor's The Help, John Madden's The Debt, Phyllida Lloyd's The Iron Lady, and George Nolfi's The Adjustment Bureau.[10]

In 2012, Newman scored John Madden's The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. He also scored the 23rd James Bond movie Skyfall, which celebrates the film franchise's 50th anniversary.[11] His work on this film earned him his eleventh Oscar nomination and a second BAFTA win. During 2013, he scored Steven Soderbergh's Side Effects and John Lee Hancock's Saving Mr. Banks. The latter score was very well received by film music critics, earning Newman BAFTA and Oscar nominations for the second consecutive year, both of which he lost to Steven Price for Gravity.

Newman's 2014 projects included David Dobkin's The Judge and Tate Taylor's Get on Up. In 2015, he scored John Madden's The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, marking the first time Newman has scored a sequel to a film he also wrote the score for.[12] Also that year, Newman returned to score Sam Mendes' 24th James Bond movie Spectre, the sequel to Skyfall and collaborated with Steven Spielberg for Bridge of Spies, marking Newman's first collaboration with Spielberg and the first Spielberg film not to feature a musical score from his long-time composer John Williams, since the production of The Color Purple in 1985. For his score on Bridge of Spies, Newman garnered additional Oscar and Grammy nominations.

In 2016, Newman scored the motion picture Morten Tyldum's Passengers starring Chris Pratt, Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Sheen, and Laurence Fishburne, for which he received his 14th Oscar nomination. Three years later, Newman reunited with Sam Mendes for his war film 1917, for which Newman received his 6th BAFTA and 15th Oscar nominations.

Newman likes to vary the instrumentation in his scores, ranging from full orchestra to percussion-only music. He is also fond of incorporating unusual instruments such as the zither, hurdy-gurdy, psaltery and hammered dulcimer,[1] or unexpected sounds, like Aboriginal chants and the chirping of cicadas. The composer declared that he has "an interest in mundane experimentation."[6]




Year Title Director(s) Studio(s) Notes
1984 Reckless James Foley Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer N/A
Revenge of the Nerds Jeff Kanew Interscope Communications
20th Century Fox
Grandview, U.S.A. Randal Kleiser CBS Entertainment Production
Warner Bros. (theatrical)
CBS/Fox Video (VHS release)
Paramount Home Entertainment (DVD release)
1985 Desperately Seeking Susan Susan Seidelman Orion Pictures Soundtrack released by Varèse Sarabande. Album shared with Making Mr. Right
Girls Just Want to Have Fun Alan Metter New World Pictures N/A
The Man with One Red Shoe Stan Dragoti 20th Century Fox An album of Newman's score released by La-La Land Records in 2018.
Real Genius Martha Coolidge TriStar Pictures N/A
1986 Gung Ho Ron Howard Paramount Pictures First collaboration with Ron Howard
One track released by Milan on the compilation album Ron Howard – Passions & Achievements
Jumpin' Jack Flash Penny Marshall Largo Entertainment
Silver Pictures
20th Century Fox
Song album with two Newman tracks
1987 Light of Day Paul Schrader TriStar Pictures Song album with one Newman track
The Lost Boys Joel Schumacher Warner Bros. Song album with one Newman track
Less Than Zero Marek Kanievska 20th Century Fox Song album; no Newman score; score album released by La-La Land Records in September 2016.
1988 The Great Outdoors Howard Deutch Hughes Entertainment
Universal Pictures
Song album with one Newman track
The Prince of Pennsylvania Ron Nyswaner Fine Line Features
New Line Cinema
1989 Cookie Susan Seidelman Lorimar Film Entertainment
Warner Bros.


Year Title Director(s) Studio(s) Notes
1990 Men Don't Leave Paul Brickman Geffen Pictures
Warner Bros.
Welcome Home, Roxy Carmichael Jim Abrahams Paramount Pictures Soundtrack released by Varèse Sarabande
1991 Career Opportunities Bryan Gordon Hughes Entertainment
Universal Pictures
Song album with three Newman tracks released by Curb
The Linguini Incident Richard Shepard Academy Entertainment Soundtrack released by Varèse Sarabande
Naked Tango Leonard Schrader New Line Cinema N/A
The Rapture Michael Tolkin Fine Line Features
New Line Cinema
Song album with ten Newman tracks
Deceived Damian Harris Touchstone Pictures N/A
Fried Green Tomatoes Jon Avnet Act III Communications
Universal Pictures
First collaboration with Jon Avnet
Song album with three Newman tracks and separate score album, both released by MCA
1992 The Player Robert Altman Avenue Pictures
Spelling Films
Fine Line Features (US)
Pathé (International)
Soundtrack released by Varèse Sarabande
Whispers in the Dark Christopher Crowe Paramount Pictures Varèse Sarabande album release cancelled; released by Intrada in 2012
Scent of a Woman Martin Brest City Light Films
Universal Pictures
Soundtrack released by MCA
1993 Flesh and Bone Steve Kloves Paramount Pictures Soundtrack released by Varèse Sarabande
Josh and S.A.M. Billy Weber Castle Rock Entertainment
New Line Cinema
Columbia Pictures
Soundtrack released by Varèse Sarabande
1994 Threesome Andrew Fleming Motion Picture Corporation of America
TriStar Pictures
Soundtrack released by Varèse Sarabande. Twinned with American Buffalo
The Favor Donald Petrie Orion Pictures N/A
The Shawshank Redemption Frank Darabont Castle Rock Entertainment
Columbia Pictures
First collaboration with Frank Darabont
Soundtrack released by Sony BMG
The War Jon Avnet Universal Pictures Second collaboration with Jon Avnet Song album with 12 Newman tracks released by MCA
Little Women Gillian Armstrong Columbia Pictures Soundtrack released by Sony Classical
1995 Unstrung Heroes Diane Keaton Hollywood Pictures Soundtrack released by Hollywood Records
How to Make an American Quilt Jocelyn Moorhouse Amblin Entertainment
Universal Pictures
Soundtrack released by MCA
1996 Up Close & Personal Jon Avnet Cinergi Pictures
Touchstone Pictures
Third collaboration with Jon Avnet
Soundtrack released by Hollywood Records
Phenomenon Jon Turteltaub Touchstone Pictures Song album with one Newman track released by Reprise
American Buffalo Michael Corrente Capitol Films
Channel Four Films
The Samuel Goldwyn Company
Soundtrack released by Varèse Sarabande. Twinned with Threesome
The People vs. Larry Flynt Miloš Forman Phoenix Pictures
Columbia Pictures
Soundtrack released by Angel Records
1997 Red Corner Jon Avnet Avnet-Kerner Productions
Fourth collaboration with Jon Avnet
Soundtrack released by EAR
Mad City Costa Gavras Warner Bros. Soundtrack released by Varèse Sarabande
Oscar and Lucinda Gillian Armstrong Australian Film Finance Corporation
Fox Searchlight Pictures
Soundtrack released by Sony Classical
1998 The Horse Whisperer Robert Redford Touchstone Pictures Soundtrack released by Hollywood Records
Meet Joe Black Martin Brest City Light Films
Universal Pictures
Soundtrack released by Universal Records
1999 American Beauty Sam Mendes DreamWorks Pictures First collaboration with Sam Mendes
Soundtrack released by DreamWorks Records
The Green Mile Frank Darabont Castle Rock Entertainment
Warner Bros.
Second collaboration with Frank Darabont
Soundtrack released by Warner Bros. Records.


Year Title Director(s) Studio(s) Notes
2000 Erin Brockovich Steven Soderbergh Jersey Films
Universal Pictures (US)
Columbia Pictures (International)
First collaboration with Steven Soderbergh
Soundtrack released by Sony Classical
Pay It Forward Mimi Leder Bel Air Entertainment
Tapestry Films
Warner Bros.
Soundtrack released by Varèse Sarabande
2001 In the Bedroom Todd Field Good Machine
Miramax Films
First collaboration with Todd Field
Soundtrack released by Varèse Sarabande
2002 The Salton Sea D. J. Caruso Castle Rock Entertainment
Warner Bros.
Soundtrack released by Varèse Sarabande
Road to Perdition Sam Mendes The Zanuck Company
DreamWorks Pictures (US)
20th Century Fox (International)
Second collaboration with Sam Mendes
Soundtrack released by Decca Records
White Oleander Peter Kosminsky Umbrella Entertainment
Warner Bros.
Soundtrack released by Varèse Sarabande
2003 Finding Nemo Andrew Stanton Pixar Animation Studios
Walt Disney Pictures
First collaboration with Andrew Stanton, and Newman's first score for an animated film
Soundtrack released by Walt Disney Records
2004 Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events Brad Silberling Nickelodeon Movies
Paramount Pictures (US)
DreamWorks Pictures (International)
Soundtrack released by Sony Classical
2005 Cinderella Man Ron Howard Imagine Entertainment
Miramax Films
Universal Pictures (North America)
Buena Vista Pictures (International)
Second collaboration with Ron Howard
Soundtrack released by Decca Records
Jarhead Sam Mendes Universal Pictures Third collaboration with Sam Mendes
Soundtrack released by Decca Records
2006 Little Children Todd Field New Line Cinema Second collaboration with Todd Field
Soundtrack released by Silva Screen Records
The Good German Steven Soderbergh Virtual Studios
Section Eight Productions
Warner Bros.
Second collaboration with Steven Soderbergh
Soundtrack released by Varèse Sarabande
2007 Towelhead Alan Ball Scott Rudin Productions
This is that Corporation
Warner Independent Pictures
Soundtrack released by Lakeshore Records
2008 WALL-E Andrew Stanton Pixar Animation Studios
Walt Disney Pictures
Second collaboration with Andrew Stanton
Soundtrack released by Walt Disney Records
Revolutionary Road Sam Mendes BBC Films
DreamWorks Pictures
Paramount Vantage (US)
United International Pictures (International)
Fourth collaboration with Sam Mendes
Soundtrack released by Nonesuch
2009 Brothers Jim Sheridan Relativity Media
Soundtrack released by Relativity Music Group


Year Title Director(s) Studio(s) Notes
2011 The Adjustment Bureau George Nolfi Media Rights Capital
Universal Pictures
Soundtrack released by Relativity Music Group
The Help Tate Taylor Reliance Entertainment
Participant Media
Image Nation
1492 Pictures
Touchstone Pictures
DreamWorks Pictures
First collaboration with Tate Taylor
Score album released by Varèse Sarabande
The Debt John Madden Marv Films
Miramax Films
Focus Features (US)
Universal Pictures (International)
First collaboration with John Madden
Soundtrack released by Relativity Music Group, Silva Screen Music
The Iron Lady Phyllida Lloyd Pathé
UK Film Council
Goldcrest Films
The Weinstein Company (US)
20th Century Fox (UK)
Soundtrack released by Sony Classical
2012 The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel John Madden Participant Media
Blueprint Pictures
Fox Searchlight Pictures
Second collaboration with John Madden
Soundtrack released by Sony Classical
Skyfall Sam Mendes Eon Productions
Columbia Pictures
Fifth collaboration with Sam Mendes
Soundtrack released by Sony Classical
2013 Side Effects Steven Soderbergh FilmNation Entertainment
Open Road Films
Third collaboration with Steven Soderbergh
Soundtrack released by Varèse Sarabande
Saving Mr. Banks John Lee Hancock Walt Disney Pictures
BBC Films
Essential Media Entertainment
Soundtrack released by Walt Disney Records
First collaboration with John Lee Hancock
2014 Get on Up Tate Taylor Imagine Entertainment
Universal Pictures
Second collaboration with Tate Taylor
The Judge David Dobkin Village Roadshow Pictures
Warner Bros.
Soundtrack released by WaterTower Music
2015 The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel John Madden Participant Media
Blueprint Pictures
Fox Searchlight Pictures
Third collaboration with John Madden
He Named Me Malala Davis Guggenheim Image Nation Abu Dhabi FZ
Participant Media
Soundtrack released by Sony Classical
Bridge of Spies Steven Spielberg Touchstone Pictures
DreamWorks Pictures
20th Century Fox
First Steven Spielberg theatrical film without his long-time composer John Williams since The Color Purple (1985), and Newman's first collaboration with Spielberg
Spectre Sam Mendes Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Columbia Pictures
Sixth collaboration with Sam Mendes
Soundtrack released by Decca Records
2016 Finding Dory[13] Andrew Stanton Walt Disney Pictures
Pixar Animation Studios
Third collaboration with Andrew Stanton
Passengers Morten Tyldum Columbia Pictures
Village Roadshow Pictures
2017 Victoria & Abdul Stephen Frears Focus Features
Working Title Films
Thank You for Your Service Jason Hall Universal Pictures
DreamWorks Pictures
2019 The Highwaymen John Lee Hancock Casey Silver Productions
Second collaboration with John Lee Hancock
Tolkien Dome Karukoski Chernin Entertainment
Fox Searchlight Pictures
1917 Sam Mendes Amblin Partners
Universal Pictures
Seventh collaboration with Sam Mendes


Year Title Director(s) Studio(s) Notes
2020 Let Them All Talk Steven Soderbergh HBO Max Fourth collaboration with Steven Soderbergh
2021 The Little Things John Lee Hancock Warner Bros. Pictures Third collaboration with John Lee Hancock
2021 Operation Mincemeat John Madden FilmNation Entertainment
Fourth collaboration with John Madden
2022 Dog Channing Tatum
Reid Carolin
FilmNation Entertainment
United Artists Releasing
2022 Empire of Light[14] Sam Mendes Searchlight Pictures Eighth collaboration with Sam Mendes


Year Title Director(s) Notes
1979 The Paper Chase Various "A Case Of Detente" (season 1, episode 21) Probably Thomas Newman's first film score
1985 Amazing Stories Various Episode "Santa '85." Soundtrack released by Intrada
1990 Heat Wave Kevin Hooks
1992 Those Secrets David Manson Soundtrack released by Masters Film Music
Citizen Cohn Frank Pierson
2000 Boston Public Various Main title theme
2001 Six Feet Under Various Main title theme
2003 Angels in America Mike Nichols Soundtrack released by Nonesuch
2012 The Newsroom Various Main theme and pilot
2017 Five Came Back Various Main theme
2018 Castle Rock Various Main theme and six episodes

Additional soundtracks and music

Newman has also composed music for television, including theme music for the series Boston Public and the miniseries Angels in America. His theme music for the television show Six Feet Under won two Grammy Awards in 2003, for Best Instrumental Composition as well as Best Instrumental Arrangement. He also wrote the theme for the HBO series Newsroom.

Newman also wrote a commissioned concert work for orchestra, Reach Forth Our Hands, for the 1996 Cleveland Bicentennial. The Los Angeles Philharmonic commissioned an orchestral work by Newman, It Got Dark,[15] which was performed by the Kronos Quartet and Los Angeles Philharmonic and conducted by Leonard Slatkin during the orchestra's 2009–2010 season.[16][17]

He composed the incidental music for the Washington Shakespeare Theatre Company's 2014 production of As You Like It, directed by Michael Attenborough and starring Zoe Waites.[18]

He also collaborated with composer and multi-instrumentalist Rick Cox in an electro-acoustic album 35 Whirlpools Below Sound; which is released under the label Cold Blue Music in 2014.[19]

Awards and nominations


  1. ^ a b c "Richard Kirk Award: Thomas Newman Fulfills the Promise of His Legacy". May 31, 2000. Retrieved November 3, 2010.
  2. ^ MacDonald, Laurence E. The Invisible Art of Film Music: A Comprehensive History, Scarecrow Press (2013)
  3. ^ a b Groves, Martha (December 3, 2009). "A member of a musical dynasty writes a postcard about the past". Los Angeles Times.
  4. ^ "OnMusic Dictionary". Retrieved May 15, 2014.
  5. ^ "YaleNews | Yale Alumni Go to the Oscars". March 1, 2010. Retrieved May 15, 2014.
  6. ^ a b c Wallace, Amy (March 22, 1998). "The Newman Conquests". Los Angeles Times.
  7. ^ "When John Williams Can't Go, Whom Does Spielberg Call? Thomas Newman". October 17, 2015.
  8. ^ "Oscar Watch: 'Skyfall' Builds Academy Support, Composer Thomas Newman Overdue for Oscar|Thompson on Hollywood". Retrieved May 15, 2014.
  9. ^ Burlingame, Jon (January 20, 2000). "Spotlight: Thomas Newman". Variety. Retrieved January 14, 2013.
  10. ^ Burlingame, Jon (December 16, 2011). "Newman: 'Help,' 'Iron Lady' exhibit contrasting styles". Variety. Retrieved March 2, 2014.
  11. ^ "Thomas Newman to compose Skyfall score". January 4, 2012.
  12. ^ "Thomas Newman to Return for 'The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel 2' - Film Music Reporter".
  13. ^ Barcomb, James (June 6, 2014). "Thomas Newman to score Finding Dory". The Whale. Archived from the original on June 7, 2014. Retrieved June 6, 2014.
  14. ^ "Empire of Light : Sam Mendes filmera une histoire d'amour avec Olivia Colman". L'Info Tout Court (in French). April 6, 2021. Retrieved June 20, 2021.
  15. ^ "It Got Dark (LAPA commission; world premiere) (Thomas Newman)". LA Phil. Retrieved July 23, 2019.
  16. ^ Scheinin, Richard (July 17, 2013). "Hollywood composer Thomas Newman writes for Kronos". The Mercury News. Retrieved July 23, 2019.
  17. ^ Groves, Martha (December 3, 2009). "A member of a musical dynasty writes a postcard about the past". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved July 23, 2019.
  18. ^ Marks, Peter (November 4, 2014). "Into the often drab woods with Shakespeare Theatre Company's 'As You Like It'". The Washington Post. Retrieved November 11, 2014.
  19. ^ "CB0040 | Cold Blue Music". Retrieved July 23, 2019.

External links

Preceded by
David Arnold
James Bond film score composer
Succeeded by
Hans Zimmer
This page was last edited on 7 July 2021, at 04:08
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