The Oscar shortlists are a blessing and a curse.
Blessing in that it really helps strategists and publicists refine their marketing efforts and budget in favor of a sample of candidates in the final stage of nominations. In the case of the Music Directorate and the Original Music category, film scores are generally punished beyond the quota rules, that is to say that this year, the score for a film must be composed at 60% of the original score, against 50% in previous years. Also, if some of the music has never been preconceived in another medium, not specifically written for the film; so forget about it. You are disqualified. IE much of Mark Orton’s haunting folklore score from the 2013 Alexander Payne feature film Nebraska came from pieces the composer had previously written, despite the electricity of the lines in Will Forte-Bruce Dern-June Squibb’s black-and-white dramatic comedy.
The list of international Oscar feature films is long on the expected nominees; No big snubs
When it comes to the Music Direction of the Academy and how they qualify the scores, it is often a case of analysis leading to paralysis. The Branch gets tangled up so much that it seems to honor authentic cinematic musical selections that many times the high scores are overlooked due to trivial rules.
One of the most egregious disqualifications this year even before today’s list was released was the academy running through Branford Marsalis’ great jazz score for Ma Rainey’s black background out of the original sheet music and song list. Sources close to the film tell me that the film was actually deleted and had 60% of its original music in the composer’s score. Calling Marsalis’s score minimal is insulting: it slyly creates a snazzy rhythm, tone, and rhythm beneath the experiential African-American monologues of its protagonists. It really is a beautiful musical maneuver.
So what happened here? Most likely, the 1920s songs that Marsalis adapted for the film eclipsed the score, and in such cases the Academy’s Music Directorate cannot see the forest from the trees and easily disqualified the photo. of the category. This was the case for John Powell’s 2006 score for Happy feet: This 108-minute animated feature had about 30 minutes of songs, the rest being in sheet music; and the Academy scored that score because the songs were so much more important than the score. I am told that Ma Rainey’s black background is still eligible for the BAFTA score category.
What can Netflix do here? Challenge the musical branch of the Academy with My Rainey cue leaves in the fist, and argue that the Marsalis score should be taken into consideration.
Soul is an exception this year. Quite often composers have to work together – literally together – on a score, and in the case of the Disney / Pixar movie, I understand it was to marry the dramatic score of Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross with the score. jazz band by Jon Batiste. Reznor and Ross’ work here has exceeded the 60% quota for original music required. This left a question as to whether Batiste’s jazz would be considered “source music” and not related to the main score. The music branch executive committee made an exception here, seeing that Batiste’s music was a vital part of Soulfabric. Having said that, some strategists tell me, so as not to be surprised if Soul actually wins the Oscar for the original score at the end of the day: not only is it the most popular and commercial feature on the shortlist here, but it’s a film about jazz music.
Here’s a quick look at today’s pre-selected scores:
Ammonite by composing the German-born team Volker Bertelmann and the American pianist Dustin O’Halloran. The duo have previously been inducted into the Oscars club after being nominated in 2017 for their original score at Lion.
Blizzard of Souls by American composer Lolita Ritmanis, twice Emmy nominee. The film is Latvia’s Oscar entry this year and follows 16-year-old Arturs who, after losing his mother and his home, finds consolation by joining the military in WWI as part of the rifle battalions. Latvians of the Imperial Russian Army on the Eastern Front and in the Latvian War of Independence. On the other hand, and limiting the chances of the Oscars of photography, the film did not make the list of international finalists for the feature film.
Da 5 bloods Terence Blanchard is Spike Lee’s essential composer for several films. He was previously nominated for Lee’s Original Music BlacKkKlansman in 2019.
The invisible Man Elisabeth Moss is overlooked by the Golden Globes and SAG for one of her best on-screen turns of her career, however, the score for British composer Benjamin Wallfisch’s horror thriller has a shot at Oscar gold . Wallfisch shared a Golden Globe nomination with Hans Zimmer and Pharrell Williams in 2017 for Hidden figures.
Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey Netflix’s holiday musical is one of the finalists in the sheet music and song category, the latter for John Legend’s song “Make It Work”. John Debney co-composed the score with Michael Diskint, the former Oscar nominee for his epic work on The passion of Christ.
Life to Come (La Vita Davanti a Se) Gabriel Yared is 3x Oscar nominee for the Anthony Minghella Troika Cold Mountain, the talented Mr. Ripley, and The English patient, and he won on his first time on the latter. A nomination for the Lebanese-French composer would mean a return to the Oscars after 17 years.
The small things Warner Bros. ‘ The last-minute 2021 awards campaign is working so far; with this thriller by John Lee Hancock which has already landed a Golden Globe and SAG nomination for Jared Leto. If composer Thomas Newman gets an original score here, it will mark his 16th of his career, as the Academy has yet to praise the son of the legendary Alfred Newman for his unique and continuous styles (who does not like the score for american beauty and Six feet Under ground?).
Mank and Soul from two different studios, Netflix and Disney, respectively, however, the constant being that the scores for both films were written by Social network Oscar-winning duo of Reznor and Ross, which won their first nomination in 2011. As we already mentioned above, Soul has the added juice of Batiste jazz. Mank in his return to the jazzy score of old Hollywood movies, a 180 for Reznor and Ross, known for their synthetic and metallic styles in the work of David Fincher. I hear Mank orchestrator Conrad Pope gets a huge shout here for keeping the pace of this black on the controversial Citizen Kane scribe, lively. Both Mank and Soul are already nominated in the original music category at the Globes.
Midnight sky is by Alexandre Desplat, and where he excels is that no score ever sounds the same in his CV; and that’s certainly true here with this sci-fi drama directed by George Clooney; the music being more emotional than cosmic in the Gustav Holst sense of the word. A nomination here for Desplat would represent his 12th. While it took the Academy eight years to wake up with the French composer and finally hand him a trophy, Desplat would win back-to-back nominations for original scores he landed: 2015 The Grand Budapest Hotel and 2018 The shape of water. An added benefit here as the names approach is that Desplat has already landed a name at the Globe for Midnight skythe score.
Minari an original score named here for Emile Mosseri will represent his first recognition by AMPAS. The Critics Choice is already ahead of the game, having recently named Mosseri in the original score category. And just like the Korean immigrant drama itself, this score pulls the heartstrings a lot in a sublime way.
Mulan Harry Gregson-Williams marked a few epics including that of Ridley Scott Kingdom of Heaven, the Martian, and the next one The last duel. After working in the film industry as a songwriter for 27 years, it will be high time for him to receive a nomination if the music for this live-action Disney film adaptation makes Oscar’s final five.
World news Like Thomas Newman, legendary Hollywood composer James Newton Howard has always been a bridesmaid and never a bride at the Oscars, and an original score name would represent a total of nine-year career (which includes songs). The last time Howard was in the mix was in 2009 for the original score at Challenge. Upside down: World news is also set to score at the Globes.
Principle Not only was it a memorable and striking thriller Black Panther original score Oscar winner Ludwig Göransson, but it was a pure theatrical release that didn’t slip through the loopholes of the Pandemic Qualifying / Streaming Academy. From the start, the industry embraced Göransson in a feverish way reminiscent of composers like Hans Zimmer and Michael Giacchino after their Oscars. And that’s because the Swedish native hits with a razor-sharp style. The score is already recognized by the Globes this year and it would be shocking if Principle does not reach the last five.
The Chicago 7 trial by British composer Daniel Pemberton. He’s really great with jazz, from his retro Bond tribute on The man of the UNCLE to her fused Latin hip Ocean’s Eight. An original name score would represent his first here after winning three Golden Globe nominations in his career – two for scores of Steve Jobs and Motherless Brooklyn, and one for co-writing the song “Gold” from the film of the same name with Danger Mouse, Iggy Pop and Stephen Gaghan. Pemberton also made the songlist for the end credits. Chicago 7 trial, “Hear My Voice,” which he co-wrote with Celeste.