If the Academy is doing nothing else right, they’ve made up for it by restoring the Best Original Song category. After just two films were nominated last year, the rules changed as to how Academy members vote for the category, namely that they don’t. Now, the number of nominees is contingent on the number of submissions. There will likely be enough every year to nominate five songs. Best Original Score, however, remains the same.
Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score
- “Anna Karenina” – Dario Marianelli
- “Argo” – Alexandre Desplat
- “Life of Pi” – Mychael Danna
- “Lincoln” – John Williams
- “Skyfall” – Thomas Newman
This Award is strange in that the most prolific composers are constantly nominated but rarely win in favor of the less common composers. If you go by that logic, it doesn’t look good for eight-time nominee Thomas Newman, five-time nominee (in the last seven years only) Alexandre Desplat and 43-time Original Score nominee John Williams.
Of those three, Lincoln has the best chance. Williams hasn’t made a score this memorable since his “Harry Potter” theme. “The People’s House” has such a warm, understated central theme that you’ll recall immediately if you take a listen. At the same time, this is more of that classic Hollywood score rather than the newer, more creative scores the Academy has been awarding of late. The same can be said about Argo. Desplat gives you everything you want in a score, but doesn’t innovate, which probably the reason why he has yet to win an Oscar.
One creative/innovative score of recent memory came from Dario Marianelli, who won hands down for “Atonement” in 2007 for mixing in typewriter sounds. In Anna Karenina, his score has the same mix of beauty and suspense, especially in tracks “Overture” and “Dance with Me.” There are lots of waltzes in this score that really fit the tone of the film as far as the era, but like “Lincoln,” it lacks any standout feature. It doesn’t help that “Anna Karenina” is not a Best Picture nominee. The winner of this category has been a film nominated for Best Picture going back to 2002.
By that reasoning, Skyfall should also be out of the mix. Newman does a great job making an exciting action movie score with some tender moments, but of all the categories to win, this would be the least likely for 007.
Life of Pi is far and away the most unique of the five nominees, mixing traditional scoring with traditional Indian instruments. Particularly impressive is the track “Piscine Molitor Patel/Sous le Ciel de Paris,” which blends that classic French sound with Indian flavor. Danna won the Golden Globe last month.
Prediction: Life of Pi
Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Song
- “Before My Time” by J. Ralph from “Chasing Ice”
- “Everybody Needs a Best Friend” by Walter Murphy, Seth MacFarlane from “Ted”
- “Pi’s Lullaby” by Mychael Danna, Bombay Jayshree
- “Skyfall” by Adele, Paul Epworth from “Skyfall”
- “Suddenly” by Alain Boublil, Claude-Michel Schönberg, Herbert Kretzmer from “Les Misérables”