Oscar Predictions 2014: Original Score

Unlike a singular song, a film’s score stays with a narrative from beginning to end, helping to reinforce the emotions on screen and round out the overall feeling and impression of a film. It is a delicate balance and it is the scores which are able to make an impression, without distracting from the film itself, that rise to the top to become the scores that are remembered long after a film ends.

The nominees for Best Original Score this year are a combination of familiar names (John Williams, Alexandre Desplat, Thomas Newman) along with some new ones (Steven PriceWilliam Butler, Owen Pallett). The five films these scores are nominated from are powerful stories about people dealing with extraordinary situations from fighting for love, family, stories, even one’s own life. The music in each of these films is an incredibly important element as it helps give each story the weight it deserves.

Williams, Desplat, and Newman are distinguished talents who have proven their staying power over the years and helped elevate their respective films thanks to their music whereas the scores from Price, Butler, and Pallett are not only from newer voices, they are attached to two films that pushed the envelope when it came to visual style and narrative approach.

We review the five nominees and predict who we think will win in red

The Book ThiefJohn Williams

Why It Was Nominated: 

John Williams is the master at creating epic and moving scores and he does so again with his score for The Book Thief. The beautiful piano that drives the score plays directly to the emotional core of the film and Williams’ ability to layer many different instruments to create music that is full, rather than overwhelming, is on full display here. The Book Thief is certainly a moving story, but it also has an air of hope and wonderment that Williams captures in his score, keeping the music light at times while never diminishing from its overall impact.

Why It Might Win: 

Williams is an accomplished composer who delivers an accomplished score with The Book Thief making the music more than just background accompaniment, it truly brings this book to life. Also, it’s John Williams.

Why It Might Not Win: 

While this is definitely a great score, it is not really giving us anything too new. It is solid work from Williams, but it is not necessarily a stand out.

dashes

 GravitySteven Price

Why It Was Nominated: 

What element is better to pair with stunning visuals than powerful music? Composer Steven Price rose to this challenge and created a layered score for Gravity that is suspenseful, dramatic, and beautiful — all at once. The stakes in space are high and Price’s score turns up the volume during the film’s more climatic moments, but for a story where there is usually just one person on screen, Price also understood how to help fill the void without taking over. Director Alfonso Cuarón took you into space, Price made you feel like you were there.

Why It Might Win: 

Having worked on the music for an Academy Award winning score (The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King) before, Price has first hand experiencing creating memorable music that stands out, despite the unbelievable visuals accompanying it, and the score he created for Gravity is simply breakout work.

Why It Might Not Win: 

Still early in his career and with Gravity as one of his best known projects, the Academy may shy away from awarding Price so soon in favor of one of the more veteran nominees.

dashes

HerWilliam Butler & Owen Pallett

Why It Was Nominated: 

The fully realized world director Spike Jonze created for Her needed a very special blend of music to help it come to life and give it real texture. While the film is set slightly into the future, Her is about relationships and what it means to connect with people who happen to be surrounded by advanced technology. As a member of Arcade Fire, William Butler knows how to create appealing music that still moves listeners and his collaboration with composer Owen Pallet (a frequent Arcade Fire collaborator) created a score for Her that is both light hearted and deeply emotional, but one that never overwhelms the powerful performances on screen.

Why It Might Win: 

When Nine Inch Nails‘ Trent Reznor stepped out of the box and worked with one of his long time collaborators, Atticus Ross, to create the score for The Social Network it turned them into Oscar winners and the affecting and interesting score Butler and Pallet created for Her could give them the same results.

Why It Might Not Win: 

Butler and Pallet’s score works beautifully within the context of the film, but it’s slightly envelope pushing ways may prove too out of the box for Academy voters.

dashes

PhilomenaAlexandre Desplat

Why It Was Nominated: 

The story of a mother searching for her son sounds like a dramatic one, and while Philomena certainly has its dramatic moments, it is also filled with many laughs (thanks largely in part to the performances by Judi Dench and Steve Coogan). Alexandre Desplat understands how to create music that blends these two feelings and proves that talent once again with his score for Philomena, composing music that is both affecting and hopeful.

Why It Might Win: 

Desplat is one of the hardest working composers in the business, but his busy schedule is never reflected in his work as you can feel how he truly commits to each project when you listen to his music. Desplat has created a wonderful score for Philomena and his ability to seamlessly ebb and flow with the narrative is where Desplat truly shines making this one of his strongest efforts yet.

Why It Might Not Win:

Philomena is certainly a lovely and moving story with an uplifting and beautiful score, but in the end, it may not have enough heft to warrant Oscar gold.

dashes

Saving Mr. BanksThomas Newman

Why It Was Nominated: 

Thomas Newman and Disney have been long time collaborators that has given audiences wonderful music in films like Finding Nemo and WALL-E. Newman delivers once again with his score for Saving Mr. Banks showing he can compose for Disney’s live-action just as well as he can their animated fare. For a film about bringing a Disney classic to life, Newman’s score had to pay tribute to the iconic music of Mary Poppins while still creating a new musical identity for the story of how Mary Poppins came to be.

Why It Might Win: 

Newman’s score for Saving Mr. Banks should win for nostalgia points alone and the fact that Richard M. Sherman (played by Jason Schwartzman in the film) and Robert B. Sherman (played by B.J. Novak in the film) won for Mary Poppins in 1964 may also work in Newman’s favor.

Why It Might Not Win: 

Newman created a brand new musical pallette for Saving Mr. Banks that incorporated hints to Mary Poppins, but those hints may make it feel too close to 1964 again and cause voters to opt for something new.

dashes

Who Should Win: Steven Price for Gravity

Price may be a newer name on the nomination list, but his score for Gravity elevated the film’s visual impact and gave real weight and emotion to the performances. When alone in space, any sound becomes heightened and Price’s score became a paramount element that was needed to connect those on screen to the audience watching. Price rose to this challenge in a way that seemed effortless, but had a memorable impact.

dashes

Oscar 2014


ARTICLE TAGS
Like this article? Join thousands of your fellow movie lovers who subscribe to The Weekly Edition from Film School Rejects. Our best articles, every week, right in your inbox!
  %
%  
Comment Policy: No hate speech allowed. If you must argue, please debate intelligently. Comments containing selected keywords or outbound links will be put into moderation to help prevent spam. Film School Rejects reserves the right to delete comments and ban anyone who doesn't follow the rules. We also reserve the right to modify any curse words in your comments and make you look like an idiot. Thank You!
Some movie websites serve the consumer. Some serve the industry. At Film School Rejects, we serve at the pleasure of the connoisseur. We provide the best reviews, interviews and features to millions of dedicated movie fans who know what they love and love what they know. Because we, like you, simply love the art of the moving picture.
Comic-Con 2014
Summer Box Office Prediction Challenge
Got a Tip? Send it here:
editors@filmschoolrejects.com
Publisher:
Neil Miller
Managing Editor:
Scott Beggs
Associate Editors:
Rob Hunter
Kate Erbland
Christopher Campbell
All Rights Reserved © 2006-2014 Reject Media, LLC | Privacy Policy | Design & Development by Face3