a theatre, film & pop culture review
Missing: Black Swan (Clint Mansell)
A.R. Rahman is newly anointed Academy favorite with his perfectly scored Slumdog Millionaire, and he’s got a great shot at taking home another Oscar this year for the unique musical backdrop he dreamt up for 127 Hours. But “backdrop” isn’t the right word for Rahman’s work , as his music never takes a back seat to any film — and luckily in his case, that isn’t nearly a bad thing. You always know immediately when you’re watching a Rahman-scored work: his musicalization of emotion is so keen, it’s like having another character constantly present, as he weaves seamlessly in and out of each scene. Like the best of sidekicks, he punches up the intensity, interjecting palpably hot tension one moment, and calming, cooling tones the next. His is one of our most unique and fascinating voices in film scoring, and he’s sure to take home the statue for his uncanny ability to take us into the depths of desperation and then soar above it all in 127 Hours.
But Rahman had better watch his back, because Alexandre Desplat’s work is haunting, gorgeous and befitting of its lush and royal subjects, and truly one of the most accomplished aspects of The King’s Speech. It has more than a decent shot of winning this thing — especially since this is Desplat’s fourth nomination and he hasn’t taken home a gold guy yet. Zimmer, as always, provides his usual strong (and a dark, pounding intensity with his epic) work in Inception, but while he’s been nominated numerous times, he’s only won once (The Lion King), and it doesn’t look like his work here will win him his second statue. Powell’s score for How to Train Your Dragon, while nice, is a bit too animated-feature-generic to garner much attention.
But what if — WHAT IF — the dark horse, The Social Network, took home the Oscar? How utterly fabulous would that be? The score is mesmerizing (could I use any more italics?), least of all because it’s composed by Nine Inch Nails’s Trent Reznor (with Atticus Ross’s help). Let’s get this man to compose a musical (seriously), because his ability to underscore seemingly innocuous, even gently comforting motifs with dark, dark undercurrents of swiftly-building and frightening tension that is at first barely there, but then engulfs not only your ears but your entire being, perfectly parallels the the idea of connection and all its hidden depths of deception. The score is brilliant. We all over-and-misuse that word, but in this case, I’m not. The Social Network‘s score is astonishing in its accomplishment.
[The fact that Black Swan was determined ineligible because it wasn’t “original enough” is just plain petty. If Mansell hadn’t adapted as much of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake as he did, the film would be the lesser for it — not nearly as tense, uncomfortable, overwhelming, crazy, beautiful, paranoid…. as it is, and as it should be. Shame on you, Academy. Shame.]