The Music branch is known for being one of the most irritating groups within the Academy. If you look at the composers nominated for Original Score over the years, you’ll see how the same names pop up again and again. It’s a group that rarely embraces new and daring voices. The curious thing about this insider club is that, when nominated, the outsider composers usually go on to win the Oscar. I don’t know why this happens, it may be a case of voting for the one orange in a set of apples, but wins for Gustavo Santaolalla (Brokeback Mountain), A.R. Rahman (Slumdog Millionaire) and Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross (The Social Network) prove this rule.
If that logic is true, then this year’s winners would be Owen Pallett and William Butler, for the atmospheric and melancholic score of Spiker Jonze’s Her. They are certainly my favorites in the category, although I must say I found this to be a lackluster year for Original Scores and a pretty dismal set of nominees. I basically have problems with every one of them: You have boring perennial nominees like John Williams, who gets nominated virtually every time he composes a score. Did anyone really watch The Book Thief? You have Thomas Newman, who’s basically nominated for playing the music of Mary Poppins in Saving Mr. Banks. You have Steven Price’s score for Gravity, which isn’t in and on itself bad, but is used very poorly in the movie. And then you have Alexandre Desplat, who seems to be nominated every year and always fails to win. He’s up for Philomena.
Out of these guys, I bet the Oscar goes to Gravity, if nothing else because the logic when voting might as well be Best Score = Most Score, and there are actually a lot of people who think it is a really great score. I’m not one of them, but I know there are enough of them for the movie to win. If for whatever reason Gravity fails to garner enough votes to win, then I guess this might as well be Alexandre Desplat’s year. The Academy likes Philomena, and the guy has to win sooner of later (although I wish he could win for better work).
Quickly, just a few scores I would have nominated: The Spectacular Now, All is Lost, Stoker, Nebraska, Frozen, and what I think is far and away the very best score of the year: Joe Hisaishi’s work in The Wind Rises.
Will Win: Steven Price (Gravity)
My Vote: Owen Pallett and William Butler (Her)