The LAMB Devours the Oscars – Best Original Score

by Dylan · February 14, 2008 · LAMB Devours the Oscars · 8 Comments

Editor’s note: Welcome to the thirteenth of a multi-part series dissecting the 2008 Academy Awards, brought to you by the Large Association of Movie Blogs and its assorted members. Every weekday leading up to the Oscars, a new post written by a different LAMB will be published, each covering a different category (or more) of the Oscars (there are 24 in all). To read any other posts regarding this event, please just click on the tag following the post. Thank you, and enjoy!

By Jorn of Soundtrack Geek.

There was a lot of controversy over this year’s nominations as the news broke just a few days before the nominees were to be announced that Jonny Greenwood’s score for There Will Be Blood was told by the committee that There Will be no Academy Award (They should make it a movie actually, about the drama behind all this and Johnny Depp can play Jonny Greenwood). Anyway, the score was disqualified for using 25 or so minutes of previously used materials making it not “original” anymore. My theory is that they panicked, because they found out a couple of days before the nominations and just threw a name in there, a surprise name which I will go into later in this article.

3:10 to Yuma is an excellent movie, and if you haven’t seen it yet, do it now. The original score is composed by Marco Beltrami. He isn’t the first name you think of when it comes to awards, and this is his first Academy Award nominations. In 3:10 to Yuma he has tried to make a mix of the old spaghetti western scores and modern sounds. Bruno Nicolai, Francesco DeMasi and Ennio Morricone must have had an influence when Mr. Beltrami made this score. Has he succeded? Perhaps. I would define the score as original, it is unlike any western score I have heard before, and it feels skewed and distorted, almost as if you let Jonny Greenwood compose a western score.

No one can deny the success of Atonement, both the movie and score have done remarkably well in the current market. The score is the current best-selling score, and is being praised by almost everyone who hears it. Not surprisingly, it won the Golden Globe for Best Original Score. Will it repeat it at the Academy Awards? Recent history shows that someone else will win it. Only two times since 2000 has the Golden Globe and the Academy Award been won by the same score – Frida in 2002 and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King in 2003.

The biggest surprise in this year’s Academy Award nominations would have to be the inclusion of Michael Clayton. No one saw that one coming, and I can only imagine that is was put in there because There Will Be Blood was disqualified. The criticism of this score is that it’s too quiet, not dramatic enough, not enough variety, but when it all comes down to it, that doesn’t matter. What matters is if we like it, and yes, I love this score, it’s really great to listen to, it reminds me of Mark Isham’s exciting scores. What I can’t understand is how critics can say Mark Isham was the best composer of 2007, but blatantly dislike this score. You won’t find much in the way of “real” instruments in this score, but the ambient noises, the atmosphere of this score is just top notch.

The Kite Runner must be one of the best books ever made, and of course they made it into a movie and Spanish composer Alberto Iglesias got the honour of making the score. He has not spared on the instruments in this one, the variety is staggering and beautiful. The Spanish guitar can be heard throughout this score, but it still feels Iranian to me, in the way it is composed and put together. Alberto Iglesias was nominated for an Oscar in 2006 for The Constant Gardener and when you listen to that score you know why he was chosen for The Kite Runner and you can definitively compare the two scores.

Ratatouille – isn’t that something you just want to shout out? No? Must be just me then. I have never tasted ratatouille, but I’ve seen the movie and listened to the score by Michael Giacchino. The score goes perfectly with the movie, the French connection and the pace of it is almost perfection. Not since Alan Menken’s Pocahontas in 1995 has an animated movie won the award for Best Original Score. It’s about time I’d say, and this score might just do it. It’s a charmer, it’s French country charm and with a title like Ratatouille, how can it fail?

The Academy Award goes to… 3:10 To Yuma? Nah… too weird. Atonement? Nah, already won the Golden Globe. Michael Clayton? In my dreams! Actually this is my personal favourite and I want to see it win, just so I can see the critics faces. It will never win though. The Kite Runner? I don’t think so, but I think it is between this and Ratatouille. My prediction is that Ratatouille will win. It’s about time an animated movie score won the whole thing anyway. See you at the Academy Awards for laughs and tears (mostly tears)!

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8 Responses to The LAMB Devours the Oscars – Best Original Score

  1. JG says:

    It’s about time an animated movie score won the whole thing anyway.

    Probably true … it’s been more than a decade since the end of Disney’s category-changing run of 5 wins in 7 years.

  2. Daniel G. says:

    That’s a great write up. I’m pulling for the Rat.

  3. WaywardJam says:

    Love the post. I remember my wife really liked the music of Ratatouille and I remember she wasn’t as impressed with Michael Clayton because it did tend to fade into the background.

    As for me, a good western score is always nice to me, but I’d be happy to see the Rat get it too.

  4. The Atonement score was cool; the typewriter sound added to the feeling of intrigue and scandal. It was about the only thing I really liked about the movie.

  5. Fletch says:

    @ Nayana – I completely agree. It was my favorite part of the movie, and I’m hoping it takes this category.

    Granted, I’m not to the level og the Geek when it comes to soundtracks, but I don’t even recall the ones for Michael Clayton or Ratatouille (haven’t seen 3:10 or Kite). If I can’t recall a thing about them, they can’t be that good.

    On the other hand, Notes on a Scandal was on HBO last night, and I won’t say that Glass’ score MADE the flick, as Dench, Blanchett and Nighy are three great actors, but it sure enhanced it…that’s an Oscar winner.

  6. Fletch: You don’t have to be a geek to enjoy scores ;).

    That’s what some people said about Michael Clayton in forums etc., they weren’t aware that it even had a score. Well, maybe it’s my trained ear, but the score for Michael Clayton really stood out and became a character in the movie for me. It should have been nominated for best actor 😉

    Notes on a Scandal was good, but maybe a little bit repetitive and boring. Cassandra’s Dream, Secret Agent and The Truman Show are my favorite Philip Glass scores.

  7. * (asterisk) says:

    I gotta say, I almost never notice soundtracks. And when I do it’s because I consider them too intrusive. I just not a scores kinda guy, I guess. I prefer silence and the art of building tension and ambience through acting and directing rather than taking the manipulative option of sad music, happy music, etc.

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