the oscars: original score

February 12, 2017

so you know those people who're like, there's twenty minutes of previews and then the credits so if we're late, it's not like we'll be missing much. yeah. i'm not one of those people. now i'm not saying i'm a punctual gal. time is very fluid thing with me. more often than not i'm leaving the house at the time i should be arriving at my destination, and it doesn't matter how solid that time is, whether it's a shift for work or a hair appointment at nine a.m. chances are good i'm gonna be late either way.

but movies... no, no, no. my ass needs to be planted in the seat with all my snacks twenty minutes before start time. that's not to say i'm never late to one. i was late to hidden figures yesterday because i decided to do a double feature of that and la la land (one p.m. and a quarter to four p.m.), and this decision was made at twenty 'til one. i was still in my jammies. i brushed my teeth, threw on a pair of jeans, a sweatshirt and ball cap and booked it, made it just in time to catch the last trailer.

and when the theater's done with its announcements about how awesome its sound and visual systems are, when they've politely asked the audience to PLEASE SILENCE YOUR DAMNED CELL PHONES, when the screen goes black... THAT'S MY FAVORITE PART. it's like opening a book. there's the title page, the credits and then the story begins... a whole new world is open to you. only in a movie, that sensation's a thousandfold because there's music; you're swept into the story, immersed in it. the honorable drums and the brass at the beginning of apollo thirteen, the fragile strings and keys at the beginning of chocolat. the simplicity of the notes and how they echo at the start of one day. the opening of for love of the game, of miracle, of donnie brasco. the magic of harry potter and how distinct each film's opening is, even though the same motif runs along the bars.

i'd seen star wars so many times that my mind had begun to expect to hear the opening chords of the main titles after any twentieth century fox production, and there was always a smidgeon of disappointment in my subconscious that i couldn't.

and if you doubt the awesome power music like that has... let me remind of you this bit of badassery:

in nineteen seventy-seven, the oscar went to the omen.  i listened to snippets from each of the nominees, and that one gives me the heebie jeebies, so... it's done it's job.

star wars: episode iv - a new hope won the next year. of course it did.

i'm not sure how midnight express beat superman the next year, but yeah, that happened. my guess is they didn't want to give it to john williams two years in a row.

next year, it should've gone to star trek but went to a little romance instead. then fame beat star wars: episode v - the empire strikes back. okay. i ain't mad. i mean... it's basically the same music, so i can see why, it's just... bluh.

chariots of fire; e.t.: the extra-terrestrial; the right stuff... all amazing.

then in eighty-five, there's a passage to india. over the natural.

it pains me to say it because i LOATHE this film but out of africa totally deserved original score oscar in eighty-six. it's gorgeous music.

the intro to aliens gives me the CHILLS. but you know, that one didn't win best score. round midnight did. and yeah. it's pretty, but after about five minutes of it, i feel like i'm listening to a jazz cd not music made for a film.

i'm not a fan of any of the nominees in eighty-eight. i'm not a fan of the score for the milagro beanfield war, which won the following year. in fact, i hear that music, and i can't turn it off fast enough. the prettiest of the nominees that year was rain man, which is lovely. but then it's han zimmer. he, like john williams, scores some fine shit. i'm not a fan of il postino: the postman, either, and it beat out things by james horner (apollo thirteen and braveheart) and john williams (nixon), as well as the music from sense and sensibility. 

dances with wolves, schindler's listthe english patient, emma, the full monty, life is beautiful, shakespeare in love... if you asked me to hum some of the music from these films, i couldn't do a note.

and then there's disney, and everybody knows how the music goes from most of these: the little mermaidbeauty and the beastaladdin, the lion king, pocahontas.

there's the beauty of saving private ryan which lost to life is beautiful, of chocolat which lost to crouching tiger, hidden dragon. finding neverland won in two thousand five. it's pretty. it's not better than harry potter and the prisoner of azkaban, though, or that written for the village. brokeback mountain won the next year, over pride and prejudice and memoirs of a geisha.

then there's babel, followed by atonement, then slumdog millionaire. i'm good with these. good. not great, because the music from those three movies isn't so distinctive, so memorable. the music should be the thing that lingers long after you've seen the film. it should pop into your head for no reason whatsoever. i'll be standing in an elevator or browsing in a bookstore and all the sudden, notes from city of angels or bed of roses (maybe those movies aren't awesome, but the music's gorgeous), of pride and prejudice or for love of the game or memoirs of a geisha will come to me. and i will remember scenes from those films. i will remember loving them, even the ones that aren't awesome... because there are pieces in them that speak to me, there are moments of excellence. the piece that's most often in my head is called the letter from swing kids:

and then there's up. over sherlock holmes. i'm not okay with that because the music for holmes is inventive and unique.

social network. the artist... meh. same thing. i'm not terribly impressed. and trent reznor did the music for the first of those films; he's a damned fine musician so it's hard for me to say that about his work.

argo should've won when life of pi did. the book thief should've won when gravity did. grand budapest hotel over the imitation game. the hateful eight over sicario. 

which brings us to this year's nominees:

i want lion to win this one. and erin, i'll be going to see that one tomorrow, lady, so that should make you happy.

best instances in which the academy got it right: star wars: episode iv - a new hope; out of africa; the lord of the rings.


  1. Based on these clips, I'd give it to Passengers.

    Both La La Land and Moonlight have singing, so I'm surprised they're even eligible for this category. Jackie did not impress me at all. Lion is okay, but nothing special.

  2. I don't remember the original scores of movies as much as you do. I notice them in film, but remembering them after, I can't say I do that often. That being said, the music from The Natural still gives me goosebumps thinking about it, so I don't know about A Passage to India, but I'd say The Natural was robbed.
    I hope you like Lion. My heart may heart a little if you don't. But, I know, I know, I don't always love the movies you do.