Monday, 30 January 2012

Incoherent Oscar: Original Score and Original Song

Just a reminder, the incoherence of the title has more to do with the inherent illogicality in my ramblings, and less to do with the Academy’s choices.
I promised I’d engage in discussion on the film categories one post per category, but I couldn’t bear to serve up an entire discussion on the Original Song race. So, I grouped the two music categories together even though I think the original score is a much more superior category.

THE NOMINEES: “Man or Muppet” from The Muppets; “Real in Rio” from Rio

“Man or Muppet” (Bret McKenzie)
Conceivably this would be the place where all devotees of The Muppets hang their hopes but strangely when the solitary nomination (song and otherwise) was announced for The Muppets even fans of the film seemed incensed. You’ll remember that I’m not big on The Muppets and despite its relativeness small space “Man or Muppet” was my favourite song from the score so this nominations sits well with me. I also thought it had no chance of a nomination simply because it is such a tongue-in-cheek (but not obtrusively so) number. And, sure it’s nominated – I still think it’s too character-specific a number to thrive here, and it’s not like it’s co-nominee is terrible, either.

“Real in Rio” (Sergio Mendes, Carlinhos Brown and Siedah Garrett)
Would you believe me if I told you I saw Rio? Well, I did, way back last year and I can’t remember a think about it other than bright colours. Siedah Garrett is a previous nominee (the only one of the lot) previously cited for her work as a lyricist for “Love You I Do” from Dreamgirls. and, “Real from Rio” unlike “Love You I Do” (which is in the same small vein of “Man or Muppet”) is a big number. Intricate melodies, not necessarily the most soulful lyrics but credible and it’s the sort of hear warming number that makes sense here. After all, last year’s winner was the objectionable work “We Belong Together” from Toy Story III.

Projected Winner: “Real in Rio” from Rio

THE NOMINEES: The Adventures of Tintin; The Artist; Hugo; Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy; War Horse

Even with the double citation of Williams, and the egregious lack of both Dario Marianelli and Alexandre Desplat this pick of nominees doesn’t pain me as much I’d like to pretend it does. Even if I don’t specifically love all the scores here, they are all integral to their films – I’ll offer them that. And, strange things always happen in score I wonder if we’re in for surprise. Probably, no.

The Adventures of Tintin (John Williams)
The man has 42 score nominations. Let that sink in. Got it? okay. The man has forty two nominations here (he won five). I figure if Williams’ music was more up my alley I’d love this titbit quite much. As it is, though, I say all the more power to him for turning in continuous work for decades. The Adventures of Tintin like a number of animated films puts a lot on its score, and Williams jazzy work is out to good use here.

The Artist (Ludovic Bource)
I find it a bit funny, in an ironic way, that the ones praising The Artist by saying it’s there for the entire film are the same ones who accuse the Academy or remembering technical crafts when they’re used MOST and not when they’reused BEST; not that the two are mutually exclusive…but, you know. Such is such. It’s not just its constant use that makes this is a strong contender here. This is a silent film, and even in the screenplay Hazanavicius mentions that the film will be told through title cards, expressions and music – and the music is a significant tool in helping the film express its themes. It might be a red herring, but you do have to wonder if the rape (says Kim Novak) performed by Bource could affect it here. Remember The King’s Speech and it’s pornographic room, which I do feel contributed to its loss of Art Direction. We’ll see.

Hugo (Howard Shore)
This is Howard’s third nominations, after winning for both his work on The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Rings and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, so he’s not as ubiquitous a nominee as people seem to think he is. Hugo isn’t a recreation of the silent film genre (it only pays homage) but Shore’s score plays a key role in its emotional effect. It soars, it’s evocative of nostalgia without being annoyingly on the nose, it’s aware of its period while not being a slave to it and if the music branch has no qualms about honouring a previous winner over a potential first-time winner they might contribute to Hugo possibly dominating the techs.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (Alberto Iglesias)
Iglesias, like Shore, is celebrating his third nomination – but he’s never won. He’s previously been nominated for his work on The Constant Gardener and The Kite Runner and he’s plausibly the least likely to win the award, despite his strong work here. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is a film which has its success rooted in the mood it evokes and everyone’s talking up (rightfully) the production design and the photography, but Iglesias’ score plays a significant role in that. With his constant use of ostensibly cacophonous melodies the music is inextricably linked to the film in the best of ways.

War Horse (John Williams)
In a way, I think, you could liken this nomination to the one for The Artist. When your protagonist is a non-talking horse music becomes doubly important, and Shore’s score shows up intermittently over the course of the film as we trek through lustrous fields and beautifully shot war terrain. It’s hard for me to muster up a paragraph on this (I feel a bit bad, any lovers of the score here?) because it feels particularly tried and it doesn’t bear as close a relationship to the film it appears in like any of the other nominees. Williams’ last win was for Schindler’s List, another Spielberg one. If voters really want to fête him, I suspect it would be for this.

Projected Winner: The Artist by a hair
Alternate: Hugo, a significant threat for the prize

Previously: Makeup

What do you think of the music branch’s choices this year? Which composer has the best shot?


Mette said...

I haven't seen or heard any of the score nominees, but my personal vote would've been Hanna, actually.

As for song, the best thing about Rio was the song. (Yes, I too watched it).

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

mette the music for hanna was fantastic.

Jose Solís said...

Rio was adorable, the third best animated movie of the year IMO. I wonder why aren't people making a bigger fuss about the fact that Sergio Mendes is nominated. He's one of the greatest music legends EVER! He should win only because of this.

Alex in Movieland said...

I'm trying to get through Rio. it's not bad, though that song only appears shortly at the beginning of the film (from what I've seen). not impressed.
Haven't seen Muppets yet, though it will probably win, easily.

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

jose i was thinking the same thing, i didn't mention it but it's another reason i give the edge to rio.