Oscar 2009 – Some Final Thoughts

For those of us who thought THE HURT LOCKER a competently made yet rambling, dull, insignificant piece of filmmaking (like me), last night’s Academy Awards was an excruciating affair. And producers Bill Mechanic and Adam Shankman (who, as director of HAIRSPRAY, should know better) should be ashamed at how they treated the music categories.

A few weeks ago it was announced that the five nominated songs would not be performed live on this year’s telecast. Oscar has never known how to produce the songs properly. They’re usually a cross between a bloated, embarrassing production number or a yawn-inducing acoustic set. I can understand the thought process that went behind the decision to ax the performances, but the short behind-the-scenes look at the creation of some of the songs and not others was poorly produced, featured some composers and not others, and only gave you brief 30-second snippets of the songs. This is an insult to the hard work that the songwriters put into their work and they should at least be allowed the same opportunities that other nominees are given, at the very least a screen shot of them in the audience while waiting for the winner’s name to be read.

T-Bone Burnett and Ryan Bingham’s “The Weary Kind” from CRAZY HEART was the expected, and probably deserved, winner, though I personally preferred “Loin de Paname” from PARIS 36. It’s a shame that Bingham didn’t have the chance to raise his career profile with a global performance on the telecast. Hopefully the win will give it a boost.

As for Best Original Score, even though Michael Giacchino had deservedly won nearly every possible award for UP, I still didn’t trust the Oscar voters to make the “right” choice on the final ballot. Even though it was attached to a popular film, it had been a long time since an animated film had won the award.

When Sam Worthington read Giacchino’s name (his Australian accent almost made Michael sound like Marco and I panicked for a brief second that Marco Beltrami and Buck Sanders would be contributing to the HURT LOCKER sweep) I actually cried. Not big heaping buckets of wailing seal-like sounds but, yes, I shed a few tears.

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Giacchino’s music affected me on the first listen back in May and continues to do so. It is essential to the success of the film and I’m thankful that the often tone-deaf Oscar voters made the right choice.

As for the tears, what can I say? Perhaps I have WAY too much invested in these silly awards. Perhaps it was this particular score that really spoke to me. Or perhaps it’s menopause. Whatever the reason, my hearty congratulations to Mr. Giacchino on his richly deserved win.

After ALICE IN WONDERLAND’s phenomenal $116 million opening weekend box office take, will we see Danny Elfman at next year’s ceremonies? Well, that’s food for thought for later posts…


  1. No tears shed here, but lovely shivers up the spine as the orchestra played bits of Giacchino’s score. Lovely, lovely piece of work, and a much deserved win. I also found it terribly endearing that he had the little badge from the movie fastened on his collar.

    Thought his score for Star Trek was great as well.

    What film were you rooting for in the Best Picture category, Jim? :-)

    1. Hi Neo, thanks for commenting. I missed the badge! I’ll have to go back and look at the video. I thought STAR TREK was another wonderful score as well.

      As for the Best Picture category, my favorites were UP, PRECIOUS, DISTRICT 9, and UP IN THE AIR. Frankly, I would have given UP the award in addition to its Animated Feature award as well. I would have been okay with AVATAR winning though. At least it is a significant technical achievement, I actually felt something for the characters, and it represented the year in film. I haven’t seen THE BLIND SIDE or AN EDUCATION yet. And A SERIOUS MAN made me physically angry as I watched it. I found nothing universal about it and couldn’t relate to it at all. I found INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS to be uninvolving and sloppy filmmaking by Tarantino. Glad to see Christoph Waltz win though. Great performance.

  2. “A SERIOUS MAN made me physically angry as I watched it.”- lol glad to know I wasnt the only one…

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