Editor’s note: This is part of a 32-part series dissecting the 85th Academy Awards, brought to you by the Large Association of Movie Blogs and its assorted members. Every day leading up to the Oscars, a new post written by a different LAMB will be published, each covering a different category of the Oscars. To read the other posts regarding this event, please click here. Thank you, and enjoy!
By Zach Dennis of Film Thoughts By Zach
As a musical fan, especially classical, it is always nice to see and debate the Best Original Score category. The score is a crucial part of the film is something that can enhance a film and make the energy of it larger or it can flow the story or cue the romance making us fall head over heels for the people on the screen before us.
This year’s nominees are no exception. Each film has a special blend of that enhancing quality as well as the emotional tug that made each and every one of these special. But low and behold only one can win and in this close field it should be an interesting outcome.
Ang Lee’s epic Life of Pi also is nominated for Best Picture
Anna Karenina is an interesting film. It is a classic story by Tolstoy that was given a somewhat modern flare to the re-telling. Helmed by director Joe Wright who is no stranger to the Oscars, the film did well and garnered much critical acclaim especially on the director and star Keira Knightley.
The score, which is by Dario Marianelli, fits the mold of the modern re-telling of a classic story. It has elements that push the classical theme but sometimes Marianelli will twist those classical notes into a more fast-paced and modern feeling tune. It carried many instances of classical waltzes and dances but will swing into a more fast-paced and non-traditional sense of the dance making the music change with it.
This modern twist is interesting and I thought brought a lot to the film. It carries that enhancement trait that makes the film more especially when it is trying to do something so outlandish like modernize Tolstoy. While I enjoyed the score though, it wouldn’t be the winner for me.
Argo is a Best Picture nomination that had many people blown away and calling it the best film of the year, me included. It was a lesson in great suspense and director Ben Affleck and the crew did a fantastic job telling this story and keeping the audience on our toes.
The score, by the ever-busy Alexandre Desplat, adds to that tension and builds the atmosphere of Iran and the hostage situation. Desplat has been all over the film world covering the latest Wes Anderson films, Harry Potter, and even The King’s Speech. While I didn’t find this to be his most captivating score, it was one that was perfect in the context of the film. It had the sounds of Iranian culture and put the audience in the streets of Iran at the time with ease. It emotionally brought you in and had you on the edge of your seat while watching the film.
While this score works well in this film, it wasn’t one that had me coming back to it after I saw it and never really blew me away. So yet another strike out.
Lincoln is another Best Picture nomination and is one of the favorites from many critics and fans alike. It is Steven Spielberg’s latest feature and was led by the powerful performance by Daniel Day-Lewis as America’s 16th President.
The score, by John Williams, is not one that I would rank as in his best work. It is not bad per say but it is one that is made up of many patriotic overtures rather than score music. It is very patriotic and inspiring but at times I felt like Williams was stealing from famous overtures and never really could emotionally grab us in on music alone. This is sad because out of any composer ever I feel like John Williams could blow me away with a score.
This wasn’t one of William’s more memorable scores and it is one that I don’t see winning the Oscar. While it was still good, it didn’t deserve even recognition by the Academy for it.
Skyfall was supposed to be just another fun James Bond film but ended up blowing audiences away as a very smartly made blockbuster. Director Sam Mendes crafted a classic Bond film that probably will go down as one of the best. The score is no exception.
Composer Thomas Newman crafted a wonderful score that at time could be a fast-paced action fanfare and then switch to a more somber emotional ballad. The mood of the music was crucial for the film and stood out in grabbing the audience in both emotionally and enhancing the film to be something special. It was capped off with many homages to previous Bonds and a triumph return of the theme inside the film.
Newman crafted a wonderful score and one that I absolutely loved. While I want to see Newman and Skyfall grab the Oscar I feel like the next film will take the trophy.
Life of Pi is an epic of some proportions. It doesn’t carry the sweeping landscapes that may constitute an epic but it has so much emotion both in a religious and humane sense that a lot of issues roll over you while watching the film. The score plays a vital role in creating this experience.
Composer Mychael Danna opens the score with a lively Indian influenced songs that get a feel for the cultural setting of the film. Pi’s Lullaby, is the opening song, and has some voice to it but also sets the setting for what culture you are entering in this film. The first hour of the film is very Indian culture based songs that will sometimes dip into the French quarter of Pi’s town whenever deemed necessary. Once the shipwreck takes place though, the theme of the songs turns very solo and gives the audience that sense of being alone that Pi is feeling out at sea.
The two sides that this score has is what makes it so powerful and probably the best choice out of this list. It is what nominee I believe will take home the trophy and one that is very deserving of it.