Today is one of the most important days of the year for me—the Oscar nominations. Sure, it’s ridiculous, but after all these years, it’s hard to break such a well-entrenched obsession, I mean tradition. I was all set to spit fire if John Powell wasn’t nominated…but I’m getting ahead of myself. Here are the music nominees for the 83rd Academy Awards:
BEST ORIGINAL SONG
“Coming Home” from COUNTRY STRONG (Music and Lyrics by Tom Douglas, Troy Verges ,and Hillary Lindsey)
“If I Rise” from 127 HOURS (Music by A.R. Rahman, Lyrics by Dido and Rullo Armstrong)
“I See the Light” from TANGLED (Music by Alan Menken, Lyrics by Glenn Slater)
“We Belong Together” from TOY STORY 3 (Music and Lyrics by Randy Newman)
This is the first time since 1939 that there have been four Song nominees. There have been three, the usual five and more than five, depending on the Academy rules, but apparently the Music Branch voters were as unimpressed by this year’s eligible songs as most Oscar prognosticators. To receive a Song nomination, members of the Music Branch go to a special screening (or ask for the DVD) to watch random clips from all 41 eligible songs. They are graded on a .5 basis between 6 and 10. Songs must receive an average of 8.25 or above to be nominated.
Looking at the four, the major omissions are the songs from BURLESQUE, including Diane Warren’s Golden Globe power ballad for Cher, “You Haven’t Seen the Last of Me.” I don’t know if the film was considered too schlocky for nominations, but a lot worse has been nominated in the past. I personally think Warren is a formulaic hack, so I’m not crying over her omission. However, the other two eligible songs–the Christina Aguilera ballad “Bound to You” and the catchy “Welcome to Burlesque”–would have been worthy additions.
What we’re left with are four pleasant, if uninspired choices. COUNTRY STRONG has not performed particularly strong at the box office, but Gwyneth Paltrow’s rendition of “Coming Home” seems to have hit a chord with voters. Except for James Franco’s performance, I thought 127 HOURS was much ado about nothing and that goes for the music as well (more on that below). The film hung on with six total nominations, including an undeserving Best Picture nod. Even though Rahman swept the Oscars a couple of years ago with his two-fisted wins for SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE, don’t expect him to repeat that phenomenon this year, especially with this drippy ballad.
The two most likely winners come from the animated films. “I See the Light” marks Alan Menken’s 19th Oscar nomination. It’s a pleasant ballad that comes during a particularly beautiful scene in TANGLED. But the film has struggled at the box office, mainly, I believe, to some poor marketing, and that may hurt the song’s chances. This leaves us with Randy Newman on his 20th (!) nomination. Newman won this category in 2001 for “If I Didn’t Have You” from MONSTERS, INC. At the time, the award was seen as a consolation prize to break his long non-winning streak. TOY STORY 3 is not only the highest-grossing film of 2010, but it is also the highest-grossing animated film of all time. The popularity of the film may give Newman his second Oscar, even though the song is not used as effectively as some songs from earlier TOY STORY films.
BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON, John Powell
INCEPTION, Hans Zimmer
THE KING’S SPEECH, Alexandre Desplat
127 HOURS, A.R. Rahman
THE SOCIAL NETWORK, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross
I was all set to spit fire if John Powell wasn’t nominated. Now that he is, I can breathe a little easier and you will be spared numerous angry blog rants about how his exclusion. Anyone who has read any of my posts about this score over the last year knows how much I love it. When I read that my favorite score of 2010 had received some love from the Music Branch this morning, be glad you weren’t around to witness my cheesy dance moves.
Overall, this is not a bad group of scores, with one exception. Now that A.R. Rahman is in the “club” as an Oscar winner, expect him to be nominated more and more in the future. His score for 127 HOURS adds nothing emotionally or dramatically to an already stagnant film. This is a lazy entry from the Music Branch who should know better.
INCEPTION and THE KING’S SPEECH were locks for nominations, given the popularity of their films and their respective composers. But the surprise (and incorrect) omission of INCEPTION’s Christopher Nolan in the Director category indicates there may not be as much love for the film as there was originally, and Zimmer may have a tougher time than I originally thought.
THE KING’S SPEECH is on a roll, giving THE SOCIAL NETWORK some eleventh-hour competition for Best Picture. If it continues to build momentum, it may pull Desplat into the winner’s circle. If SOCIAL NETWORK continues its already astonishing run of wins, then it may pull in Reznor and Ross for their effective techno score.
Since the nominees are voted on by all 5,755 members of the Academy, the popularity of a film goes a long way towards an Oscar win in this category. At this point, I think it’s a three-way race—INCEPTION, THE KING’S SPEECH, and THE SOCIAL NETWORK. We’ll just have to see how things play out over the next month. My choice, of course, would be DRAGON, but I don’t see that happening. But if it does, you’ll feel the earth move from me jumping up and down over and over and over and over…