Critical Confabulations

a theatre, film & pop culture review

Oscars 2012: Best Original Score

Note: This is my personal ranking, listed in order from best to worst, with #1 being my favorite. Prediction for the actual winner is in orange.








Missing: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Let’s start with what is certain not to win. And for once that film is Hugo. It’s not that two-time winner Howard Shore (The Lord of the Rings) doesn’t charmingly play off of the waltz with clockwork themes and warm, puzzling tones, it’s simply that his is obviously not the most distinguished of the nominees.

Despite seven nominations this year for the International Film Music Critics Association Awards and five Oscar wins and forty-five nominations, John Williams will of course not win for either of his nominated films. The man who brought us the iconic music of Jaws and Star Wars appeared to be as bored with Spielberg’s WWI epic as we were, overdoing it with the sweeping, soaring variety of score that relied too heavily on folksy flutes and battle-like bombast: War Horse‘s music was as predictable and emotionally manipulative as its story and direction. (Which, of course, makes Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross‘s snub for their fantastic score for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo even harder to take.)

But The Adventures of Tintin is an entirely different story. It appears that both Stevie and John let go of the pretensions for this collaboration and simply decided to have fun. Jaunty and playful, full of clarinet and piano solos, this energetic score sounds like the adventurous detective story it is, and is wonderfully reminiscent of Williams’s work on the Indiana Jones series (ditto for Spielberg’s feisty direction). The opening animation and musical theme is utterly delightful.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is moody, cerebral and like the main character George Smiley, possesses complex layering, as though hidden agendas lurk beneath those  jazzier tones of the oboes and trumpets. Two-time nominee Alberto Iglesias  (The Constant Gardner, The Kite Runner) adds an aural depth to the proceedings that dramatically increases the intrigue (or offers the only intrigue if you, like me, found the film a snooze-fest), pushing him into a solid position to spoil the The Artist‘s evening.

The Artist, it appears, is everyone’s “clear winner,” though I’m not convinced it should be. Sure, it’s a silent film, necessitating that Ludovic Bource’s score speak for the characters, and it’s true that it’s totally delightful and charming — a loving homage to the Hollywood scores of yore. But my cynical self says that this sparkling score, like the film itself, is just a bit too gimmicky. The Academy, of course, will say the opposite.


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This entry was posted on February 11, 2012 by in Award Predictions, Film Reviews, Film Scores, Oscar-Nominated.



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