Oscar’s Eligible Scores – 2009

For years I’ve wondered why the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences don’t officially release a list of eligible original scores, like they do for the original song category. Well, they still haven’t. But Steve Pond over at The Wrap apparently got a hold of the list of the 81 scores eligible for this year’s Academy Award.

Here is the list of eligible scores:

  • ADAM, Christopher Lennertz
  • ADORATION, Mychael Danna
  • ADVENTURES OF POWER, Ethan Gold
  • ALIENS IN THE ATTIC, John Debney
  • AMELIA, Gabriel Yared
  • ASTRO BOY, John Ottman
  • AVATAR, James Horner
  • BAD LIEUTENANT: PORT OF CALL NEW ORLEANS, Mark Isham
  • BRIGHT STAR, Mark Bradshaw
  • BROKEN EMBRACES, Alberto Iglesias
  • BROTHERS, Thomas Newman
  • BY THE PEOPLE: THE ELECTION OF BARACK OBAMA, Craig Wedren
  • CHERI, Alexandre Desplat
  • CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS, Mark Mothersbaugh
  • COCO BEFORE CHANEL, Alexandre Desplat
  • CORALINE, Bruno Coulais
  • COUPLES RETREAT, A.R. Rahman
  • CREATION, Christopher Young
  • DISNEY’S A CHRISTMAS CAROL, Alan Silvestri
  • DISTRICT 9, Clinton Shorter
  • DRAG ME TO HELL, Christopher Young
  • DUPLICITY, James Newton Howard
  • AN EDUCATION, Paul Englishby
  • EVA, Vlady Cnejevici
  • EVERYBODY’S FINE, Dario Marianelli
  • FANTASTIC MR. FOX, Alexandre Desplat
  • (500) DAYS OF SUMMER, Mychael Danna and Rob Simonsen
  • G.I. JOE: THE RISE OF COBRA, Alan Silvestri
  • GHOSTS OF GIRLFRIENDS PAST, Rolfe Kent
  • HE’S JUST NOT THAT INTO YOU, Cliff Eidelman
  • HOTEL FOR DOGS, John Debney
  • THE HURT LOCKER, Marco Beltrami and Buck Sanders
  • ICE AGE: DAWN OF THE DINOSAURS, John Powell
  • THE IMAGINARIUM OF DR. PARNASSUS, Jeff Danna and Mychael Danna
  • THE INFORMANT!, Marvin Hamlisch
  • INKHEART, Javier Navarrete
  • INVICTUS, Kyle Eastwood and Michael Stevens
  • IRON CROSS, Roger Bellon
  • IT’S COMPLICATED, Hans Zimmer and Heitor Pereira
  • JULIE & JULIA, Alexandre Desplat
  • LAND OF THE LOST, Michael Giacchino
  • THE LAST STATION, Sergey Yevtuchenko
  • THE LIGHTKEEPERS, Pinar Toprak
  • THE MEN WHO STARE AT GOATS, Rolfe Kent
  • THE MISSING LYNX, Sergio de la Puente
  • MOON, Clint Mansell
  • MY SISTER’S KEEPER, Aaron Zigman
  • NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM: BATTLE OF THE SMITHSONIAN, Alan Silvestri
  • OLD DOGS, John Debney
  • ORPHAN, John Ottman
  • PARIS 36, Reinhardt Wagner
  • PLANET 51, James Brett
  • PONYO, Joe Hisaishi
  • THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG, Randy Newman
  • THE PRIVATE LIVES OF PIPPA LEE, Michael Rohatyn
  • PUBLIC ENEMIES, Elliot Goldenthal
  • PUNCTURED HOPE, David Brandstaetter
  • RACE TO WITCH MOUNTAIN, Trevor Rabin
  • THE ROAD, Nick Cave and Warren Ellis
  • RUDO Y CURSI, Leoncio Lara
  • A SERIOUS MAN, Carter Burwell
  • 17 AGAIN, Rolfe Kent
  • SHERLOCK HOLMES, Hans Zimmer
  • SIN NOMBRE, Marcelo Zarvos
  • A SINGLE MAN, Abel Korzeniowski
  • SKIN, Helene Muddiman
  • STAR TREK, Michael Giacchino
  • THE STONING OF SORAYA M, John Debney
  • SUNSHINE CLEANING, Michael Penn
  • TERMINATOR SALVATION, Danny Elfman
  • TETRO, Osvaldo Golijov
  • THAT EVENING SUN, Michael Penn
  • THE TIME TRAVELER’S WIFE, Mychael Danna
  • TRANSFORMERS: REVENGE OF THE FALLEN, Steve Jablonsky
  • THE TWILIGHT SAGA: NEW MOON, Alexandre Desplat
  • 2012, Harald Kloser and Thomas Wander
  • THE UNINVITED, Christopher Young
  • UP, Michael Giacchino
  • UP IN THE AIR, Rolfe Kent
  • WATCHMEN, Tyler Bates
  • THE YOUNG VICTORIA, Ilan Eshkeri

First, let’s take a look at some of the official rules that an original score must follow. According to the Academy’s rulebook, “An original score is a substantial body of music that serves as original dramatic underscoring and is written specifically for the motion picture by the submitting composer.”

Oscar voters tend to like one-man (or -woman) shows. “No more than one statuette will normally be given in the Original Score category. A second statuette may be awarded when two composers function as equal collaborators in producing the score, each contributing a substantial amount of original music for the film.” That usually leaves dual composer scores out in the cold.

To be eligible for any of the three music categories–Original Score, Song, Musical (which we haven’t seen in years)–the principal writer(s) must submit an official form, accompanied by a complete music cue sheet (listing all music cues). In addition, submissions “may be made prior to the qualifying Los Angeles release opening, but must be made no later than 60 days after such opening, or by 5 p.m. PT on Tuesday, December 1, 2009, whichever comes first.” I seem to remember Ennio Morricone’s beautiful score for ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA got left out in 1984 because they missed the deadline.

As to be expected, the list contains some glaring omissions, some of which I have predicted in these posts. Karen O and Carter Burwell submitted their score for WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE but the score was disqualified by the Music Branch. No doubt it fell victim to this rule: “[S]cores diluted by the use of tracked themes or other preexisting music, diminished in impact by the predominant use of songs, or assembled from the music of more than one composer shall not be eligible.”

Some high profile scores, such as Brian Eno’s THE LOVELY BONES, were not submitted for consideration. According to The Wrap’s report, “Eno simply felt that he didn’t have time to submit the required paperwork and submit to the type of publicity campaign necessary.” Though the score, which incorporates several older compositions by the rock musician, may have been disqualified anyway had it been submitted.

In addition, T-Bone Burnett and Stephen Bruton’s song score for CRAZY HEART was not promoted in the “For Your Consideration” listing on the film’s screeners, opting instead to concentrate on the Original Song category. However, Paramount and Warner Bros. did suggest nominations in the Original Score category on the LOVELY BONES and WILD THINGS screeners, respectively.

Other major scores missing from the list include Nicholas Hooper’s HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE, Carter Burwell’s THE BLIND SIDE and A SERIOUS MAN, Marco Beltrami’s KNOWING, and Hans Zimmer’s ANGELS & DEMONS. Whether these were disqualified for some reason or their exclusion is due to the composer, who knows.

So that’s it. This year’s final five will come from this list. One (or more, though doubtful) of these composers will be taking home the gold on March 2. Stay tuned for the list of nominee’s on February 2.

What would be your choices for the final five? What scores were left out?

16 comments

  1. It seems absolutely bizarre to me that a composer has to submit paperwork and run a publicity campaign to have their score considered for this award (unless that Eno reference involved exaggeration). Is this an external recognition of achievement or a political office?

    1. I think Eno’s would have been scrapped anyway, especially since it contains earlier work. Look at what happened to Jonny Greenwood’s THERE WILL BE BLOOD.

      But the Oscars, and all awards, are political, my friend. Always has been, always will be. We’d like to think artistic achievement has something to do with it, and to some extent I suppose it does. But you don’t win without campaigning and playing the game.

      1. Didn’t Jonny Greenwood get an honorable mention or something however? Maybe I’m thinking of a different awards show.

        1. Different awards show, though I’m not sure which one. It’s a shame too. Though I loathe that film, I think the score is very effective. Hopefully he’ll do more in the future.

  2. I usually get all hot and bothered when I read each year of certain scores being disqualified based on absurd technicalities. However, this year none of the exclusions bother me. “Knowing” might be a great score, but it never had a chance of getting an Oscar nomination. The scores I would be happy to see nominated are all still eligible.

    1. I’m usually not bothered by the exclusions either, though ENCHANTED irritated me, especially when THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG qualifies. Whatever.

      I agree that KNOWING never stood a chance. But I always like seeing what gets disqualified. Wish I knew the reasons. But that’s ’cause I’m nosy.

      My five are in there as well. :)

      1. “My five are in there as well.”

        Therein lies my predicament. My list has almost double the quota, but I simply don’t have the heart to remove any of them from the list. Although, given the Academy’s track record, if even three of the scores from my list make it onto the Oscar nominees list I’ll be happy.

        1. I think three of your favorites is a reasonable number to expect in any given year. And yet, some years not even that happens. “Lowered expectations” is the name of the game.

      2. Why was Enchanted (uneasonably) uneligble? and why is Princess & the Frog (reasonably) disqualified now? I think Knowing DID have a chance, if it was scored by an A-lister, even though Marco Beltrami was nominated before, he’s definately not A-list yet.. James Newton Howard was nominated for The Village- wonderful score, horrid turd of a movie… always politics

        1. ENCHANTED was ruled ineligible because of the ratio of songs to score. Since Menken, Zimmer and those Disney cartoon musicals won so many back in the 90s, the rules have changed. I’m sure that’s why PRINCESS AND THE FROG was deemed ineligible as well, though I don’t have any information from anyone on the “inside.”

          Considering how many songs there are in FANTASTIC MR. FOX, I would have thought Alexandre Desplat’s score would have been ineligible as well. I’ve read a lot in the last few days about the possibility of Desplat getting up for this. We’ll know in about 6 hours whether or not he made it or not. (By the way, I’ll have a new blog post later today about the actual nominations.)

          1. I actually consider “The Fantastic Mr. Fox” to be the weakest of Desplat’s 2009 scores. However, if that’s the one most likely to get him an Oscar nomination, then so be it. I’d much prefer they chose “Cheri” instead, but that won’t happen.

  3. @Michael – I actually found FOX to be enjoyable, but slight. I agree that CHERI and even COCO BEFORE CHANEL (or AVANT CHANEL if you want to be less crassly American) had more depth. My choice would BE TWILIGHT: NEW MOON, but as I said in the review months ago and other posts since, the stigma of being attached to the tween phenomenon may be too great to overcome. We’ll see in less than an hour.

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