a theatre, film & pop culture review
Keeping with the theme for this year, let’s begin with what’s left out. If Birdman had been nominated, there’s a very good chance it would’ve won. But the Academy, as inconsistent as always with its rules and regulations, deemed it ineligible despite the fact that it is more than 50% original music. Antonio Sanchez’s innovative and invigorating percussive score – the best of the year – got screwed. Period.
It’s unlikely Gary Yershon’s atonal woodwind and staccato-string score for Mr. Turner will win (this is the only awards nomination it has received), despite its ability to finely match its subject’s eccentricity and agitated essence.
There’s a cute story about how the score for Interstellar came about (and who doesn’t love a cute Hans Zimmer story?). Without hinting at the larger plot, director Christopher Nolan asked Zimmer to compose a musical piece about what it means, as a parent, to sacrifice for a child. Only when Zimmer presented his composition to Nolan did the director reveal that the score would need to propel a crew of astronauts to a galaxy far, far away and back. What he came up with is a score full of sweeping themes of love and time and gravity, built upon notes forever reaching upward. But you’ll only really “get” the scope of the score if you listen to it outside of the theater. What voters are most likely to remember about this score that was released back in the fall is that it is loud. Very loud. And that’s not going to win it very many votes. While Mr. Zimmer seems ubiquitous, he actually only has one Oscar – for The Lion King. Surely he’ll win another, but not this year.
Alexandre Desplat is an eight-time nominee who always manages to be nominated (and never win) for the lesser films that he scores (The King’s Speech, Argo, Philomena) rather than the good ones (Zero Dark Thirty, Rust and Bone, The Tree of Life). Surely that is the definition of a first-world problem. Even so: The nomination for his playful, plucky, Eastern-European-inspired score for cheeky The Grand Budapest Hotel will be canceled out by that of his bittersweet composition for the more beloved The Imitation Game which sparkles with a tenacity and urgency shared by its subject, Alan Turing.
The Theory of Everything begins exuberantly, with piano and strings crescendoing with wonder and awe before darkening and slowing down as the fear and sadness of disease creep in. It’s a pretty score by Icelandic composer and first-time nominee Jóhann Jóhannsson that has already won him the Golden Globe and is very likely to earn him his first Oscar. (People love this film and will want to reward it as often as they can.)