Earlier this week, The Academy of Arts and Sciences announced their nominees for 2012’s Academy Awards and there were many, many surprises and snubs as usually is the case with this ceremony. It was great to see movies such as the brilliant Moneyball, The Help, Bridesmaids and Warrior get accolades and questionable ones like Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close get chosen over Drive, Shame and Margin Call. The major travesty is that only two of the thirty-nine eligible original songs were nominated which is very very appalling and just as appalling as the song from Slumdog Millionare that won 2009’s Oscar in which I personally felt that Peter Gabriel’s song for Wall-E was better and should’ve won. That’s another story for another day however.
For this year’s class in the original score category, there isn’t any controversary, but a refreshing sense of relief that the best scores did in fact get nominations and with good reason and all deserving to win because these are the cream of the crop. To me, the best thing is seeing John Williams name on this list, not once but twice as I thought would happen. You can’t have an Oscar ballot without at least considering him for contention and its almost become traditional.
The Artist is clearly the front runner for the Oscar gold here because of its originality in both the film and the score by Ludovic Bource, although some have questioned the use of music stemming from Bernard Herrmann as its source. Still it is a refreshing score and one the ones that I personally ranked very highly this year because the music is just that good. The film itself should snatch up some Oscar gold in its other nominated categories as well.
The Adventures of Tintin is a marvellous score by John Williams which is rambunctious fun. Clearly in the vein of his Indiana Jones scores with touches of Harry Potter and a little bit of Catch Me If You Can. Easily the most enjoyable score of his that I’ve heard in a long time and to me is the stronger of the two scores Williams is nominated for…
….Speaking of which, Williams is back again with War Horse, the second film Steven Spielberg directed this past year and while both films haven’t particularly been successful at the box office, Williams’ music is still strongest when it backs any Spielberg project and that’s not to say that Williams’ music is not brilliant because it always is. It’s a nice score with some wonderful moments, but I think it lacked a little something to be honest and didn’t make my top twenty titles of last year. Regardless, the music is good and shouldn’t be dismissed by any means. The Academy voters clearly didn’t and like I said, very nice to see both scores by the maestro nominated.
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is a terrific and wonderful surprise to see. This is a score that I really ranked high because it to me is Alberto Iglesias’s best score to date and clearly the Academy did see this. The moody jazz based score is in keeping with John LeCarrie’ film adaptations of his novels that include The Russia House and The Tailor of Panama. Both featured brilliant and flavorable scores by Jerry Goldsmith and Shaun Davey respectively and Iglesias’ score is a perfect fit. I don’t expect this one to win but I’m really glad it’s here and getting recognition.
And last, but certainly not least there’s Hugo, which surprisingly raked up a whopping eleven nominations and among them is Howard Shore’s magical and charming score. This is Shore’s first nomination since his Oscar wins for Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King for best score and original song. This is a well deserved one and great to see Shore writing something whimsical and fun which harkens back to his music for Big. Of all the musical collaborations between Shore and Director Martin Scorsese, Hugo has to be the must fulfilling one in all aspects. I wouldn’t be surprised if this one steals the Oscar from The Artist.
In going over the nominees and thinking about it, The Artist is clearly the front runner to win, but with how fickle the Academy is, I wouldn’t be surprised to see an upset here with either Hugo or Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy coming out of nowhere to win. Perhaps, we could see John Williams win once again, but as much as I do, I wouldn’t because he’s already won and it’s time to see others get a shot at it. Then again I wouldn’t be disappointed either in that regard.
We have a few more weeks to find out who will win, but in the meantime discover these scores for yourselves and choose your own winner.
– Danny Gonzalez
Film Music Examiner NYC