Oscar Nominees 2014 (Part 6 of 6): Prediction, Best Original Score — 7 Comments

  1. Great article, Ludwig! And I agree.

    However, on a highly trivial note, just wanted to point out that this:

    “In six of the last ten years, the film that won the Oscar for Best Original Score was also nominated for Best Picture. This suggests that the scores for Gravity, Her, and Philomena have an advantage this year, their films having an accompanying nomination for Best Picture. But this pattern runs somewhat deeper, as those six winning scores from the last ten years were from films also nominated for Best Director. Of this year’s nominees, only Gravity fits that bill.”

    …is actually inaccurate. The last 10 score winners were ALL nominated for Best Picture, and three of them (Finding Neverland, Atonement, and Up) still won without Best Director nominations. I think the point still stands, though!

  2. Hiya, it’s great to see a site dedicated to film music analysis, there are all too few and it’s commendable.

    While ‘Gravity’ and its Oscar™ win are old news, I would beg to differ with a few of your suggestions. I read your analytical piece and while I would agree with elements, I believe that this score has been immeasurably overrated. It’s one of those scores everyone seems to say is brilliant but without being able to explain how.

    Now there’s nothing terrible about it at all, it’s a good score, it broadly works with the film, but it doesn’t do much beyond that for me, and there are dozens of scores about which I can say the same that never had a sniff of Oscar™ recognition. The score is yet another that seemingly follows the modern paradigm of assuming that being low key has to mean sacrificing musicality. Wandering electronic tones and drum loops are things we have heard plenty before.

    The ‘clipped crescendo’ as you described it, was indeed memorable, but only because it was one of the worst elements of the film for me. There is nothing innovative about using cheap-sounding cut-offs to highlight a beat. It has been the bane of trailer music and bland action scores for the last 20-odd years, and seemed a lazy way of addressing points of tension. Every time I heard it I was taken out of the film.

    Absolutely, it’s great that the academy is acknowledging good scoring beyond the realms of the traditional, but in this instance, there were other superior, more interesting, more dynamic, more narratively satisfying low key scores. Philomena absolutely grips you, and one of my favorite things about the film walking out of it, was that the score didn’t succumb to the temptation to provide the kind of flaccid, dull, meandering piano-style thing these kinds of ‘gritty’ drama films often get.

    If anything Gravity could’ve done with a bigger emotional pull in its music because the main characters were pretty hackneyed. While Price’s score does address the emptiness in space and the sense of danger, I wouldn’t agree it effectively addresses the loneliness, the helplessness nor the character arc of the main character.

    • Hi NM. Thanks for such a detailed and thoughtful response! I should say that one thing I usually avoid doing in my posts is to give subjective commentary on whether I liked or disliked a score. I try to focus on more objective and positive things that most could probably agree on.

      I agree that Gravity is rather overrated for the reasons you give. My aim in these posts is to try and get at what does work about controversial scores like this so that I and my audience can hopefully understand better why current Hollywood trends in film music are the way they are. After all, there’s gotta be something about them that is successful filmically, otherwise they wouldn’t continue to be composed. And while it is probably bound up with things like producing scores more immediately so directors and producers can hear what they are getting much earlier than ever before and use it for previews and promos, and accessing a style that likely ties into the synth-sweetened sound of rock concerts and video games, I have to think there is at least some merit behind these kinds of scores nevertheless. So I try very much to avoid the negative slant on such posts and instead focus on what positive aspects a score like Gravity has to offer.

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