It’s the most wonderful time of the year… No, not Christmas. Meh. The announcement of the 2013 Oscar nominations for Music! And for a confirmed Oscar obsessive such as myself, this is arguably the most important day of the year for me. From a purely selfish standpoint, forget the ceremony itself. What matters is the actual nominations. After months and months of watching, listening, prognosticating and spending way too much time thinking about this topic, it’s all over with within a matter of minutes.
Today is the day we get to see the results of the Academy’s bizarre algorithm in determining nominations. In this fascinating 2010 article, Steve Pond of The Wrap shows just how little it takes to get a nomination. But no matter. The Oscars are film music’s biggest night, if for no other reason than it puts film music in front of billions of people watching the telecast around the globe. But before that night, I wanna have my say regarding this year’s Oscar nominations for Best Original Song and Best Original Score.
BEST ORIGINAL SONG
“Alone Yet Not Alone” from ALONE YET NOT ALONE, Music by Bruce Broughton, Lyric by Dennis Spiegel
“Happy” from DESPICABLE ME 2, Music & Lyric by Pharrell Williams
“Let It Go” from FROZEN, Music & Lyric by Kristen Anderson-Lopez & Robert Lopez
“The Moon Song” From HER, Music by Karen O, Lyric by Karen O & Spike Jonze
“Ordinary Love” from MANDELA: LONG WALK TO FREEDOM, Music by Paul Hewson, Dave Evans, Adam Clayton & Larry Mullen, Lyric by Paul Hewson
I have not seen or heard anything from or about ALONE YET NOT ALONE. But anything that brings Bruce Broughton another nomination (his first since SILVERADO in 1986!!!) is okay by me. [UPDATE: The Academy rescinded Broughton’s nomination after his reported lobbying.]
The only surprise out of the other four is the inclusion of “The Moon Song.” With five nominations, including Best Picture, there’s more love for HER than I expected. And its Original Score nomination (see below) is an even bigger shock! The boys of U2 are behind MANDELA’s recent Golden Globe-winning song and Pharrell Williams and “Happy” are certainly popular choices. But my odds say “Let It Go”.
Now, I hated FROZEN with every fiber of my being. I didn’t like the story, the characters or the lack of wit in the storytelling. But I disliked the songs most of all. As AVENUE Q and THE BOOK OF MORMON proved, Robert Lopez is an incredibly talented composer. But the melodies are unmemorable, and the clunky lyrics (in collaboration with wife Kristen Anderson-Lopez) and cheesy pop arrangements attached to them bothered me.
But my biggest problem came with “Let It Go”. Here’s this princess who’s just ruined her town by turning it into one huge block of ice, so what does she do? Go to the forest, secure herself in her own ice castle and basically give her former subjects the bird. Sure, why not—just “let it go.” That’s a great message to send to the young girls at whom this movie is clearly aimed. But audiences have been fooled, as the steady box office has proved, and I’m sure this tinkly piece of frozen dreck will take the Oscar for Animated Film and Song. If you feel the earth move when they do, that’s me throwing a good old fashioned hissy fit—probably with wine.
BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
THE BOOK THIEF, John Williams
GRAVITY, Steven Price
HER, William Butler and Owen Pallett
PHILOMENA, Alexandre Desplat
SAVING MR. BANKS, Thomas Newman
After 37 years of paying attention to the Best Original Score category, I’m pretty good at predicting these things. However, every now and then the Music Branch throws me a shocker. This year it’s the inclusion of HER. No doubt the marquee value of Arcade Fire helped. But the score is actually a lovely element in the film. When was the last time an Oscar-nominated score didn’t get a proper album release by the time of nominations? I have no doubt this will speed up the process to press one—and quickly.
John Williams’ umpteenth nomination is THE BOOK THIEF’s only nomination and it’s not the first time Williams has pulled off that feat. Such is the marquee value of his name. Putting that aside, it’s a well-deserved nomination for a movie that deserved to perform better at the box office. The Maestro doesn’t stand a chance in hell of winning.
Steven Price’s inclusion was a foregone conclusion given the popularity of GRAVITY. In fact, because of that popularity, the score’s prominent usage in the film and the lack of a Hans Zimmer nomination for expected frontrunner 12 YEARS A SLAVE, Price now becomes the likely winner in the category. If that happens, I expect the fanboy backlash to be intense…if it isn’t already.
We can now expect Alexandre Desplat to receive nominations on a regular basis. I thought his nod for PHILOMENA would probably be the film’s only nomination outside of Judi Dench’s excellent performance and perhaps one for adapted screenplay. But its shocking Best Picture nomination proves the film affected a lot more people than I originally gave it credit for. If it cemented Desplat’s nomination, all the better.
Now for BANKS, poor MR. BANKS. Misunderstood within the context of MARY POPPINS and even more misunderstood among the Academy voters. My favorite movie of the year never quite caught on with the public as I thought it would—and should. I had relegated myself to the fact that it wouldn’t win Best Picture, but I fully expected it to be up. Imagine my shock when not only did it not get a Picture nod but not even one for Emma Thompson’s excellent performance as P.L. Travers. Once again, the Music Branch shows its appreciation for Thomas Newman, but this is the film’s only nomination. For a score that I once considered the Oscar frontrunner—and my personal choice to win—its single nomination signals a lack of love for the film and Newman will once again—for the 12th time—go home empty-handed.