In Contention


77 scores competing for Oscar, ‘Toy Story 3’ not among them

Posted by Guy Lodge · 5:20 am · December 30th, 2010

They may have enjoyed a three-year run of nominations in the category, finally taking the gold with “Up” earlier this year, but Pixar’s hot streak in Best Original Score will not continue at the 2010 Oscars. Although Randy Newman’s “Toy Story 3″ score wasn’t ruled ineligible by the Academy — unlike his work on last year’s “The Princess and the Frog,” which faced a late disqualification — Newman himself has opted not to enter it in the race.

Pixar’s latest therefore joins a number of high-profile titles on the bench in this category, including the previously disqualified likes of “Black Swan,” “The Fighter,” “Tangled” and the Carter Burwell double-shot of “True Grit” and “The Kids Are All Right.”

As Steve Pond points out, the official list of 77 films competing for Best Original Score makes for easily the narrowest field of the general categories. The good news, however, is that most of the names we most want to see recognized are still on it, including Daft Punk for “TRON Legacy,” Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross for “The Social Network,” Sylvain Chomet for “The Illusionist” and arguable frontrunner Hans Zimmer for “Inception.”

Of course, the list contains an awful lot of immediately disposable flab, ranging from “The A-Team” to “Yogi Bear,” but a few more interesting long-shots stand out amid the dross. Kudos to the alert, optimistic soul who made the effort to submit Mark Snow’s suitably curious score for Alain Resnais’s “Wild Grass,” for example. I’m also pleased to see one of the year’s best and most under-appreciated scores in the running: ex-Tindersticks member Dickon Hinchliffe’s thrumming atmospheric soundscape for “Winter’s Bone.” (Sadly, his former band isn’t on the list for their typically stunning work on Claire Denis’s “White Material.”)

Once you eliminate all the no-hopers, however, the race starts looking not just lean, but rather drab too. Here’s hoping the Academy’s notoriously insular music branch has the gumption to throw a Reznor or a Daft Punk into the mix (despite their usual aversion to names from the pop world), or at least to nominate new category staple Alexandre Desplat for his most interesting composition of 2010. (That’d be “The Ghost Writer,” not “The King’s Speech” or “Harry Potter: Part 27,” all of which are in the running — though the eagle-eyed Pond notes that the workoholic composer didn’t make the list for “Tamara Drewe.”)

Check out the full list at The Wrap here. Nathaniel Rogers, meanwhile, has an excellent interview with Desplat here.

[Image: Pixar]




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36 responses so far

  • 1 12-30-2010 at 5:53 am

    JJ1 said...

    No TS3. OK then.

    It would be awesome if these were nommed:

    Inception, The Social Network, TRON: Legacy, Ghost Writer, How To Train Your Dragon.

  • 2 12-30-2010 at 5:55 am

    Brad said...

    I have no idea once so ever why in all articles talking about scores for the Oscars, that John Powell’s score for How to Train Your Dragon is now being ignored. For months afterwards, it was seen as a shoo-in until some competition from Inception and then it disappeared.

    It’s still my favorite score with really beautiful themes that stick with you and add to the cinimatic experience of the movie. I hope Mr. Powell gets some recognition for it.

  • 3 12-30-2010 at 6:05 am

    m1 said...

    I think 127 Hours will win.

  • 4 12-30-2010 at 6:24 am

    red_wine said...

    Shame on Randy Newman, I know you can get jaded after being nominated 19 times (!!!) but he should consider the best interests of the film he is serving. Animated films as it is fail in the most usual categories, they can get a maximum 7 noms, score being one of them.

    We know a large no. of noms can add heft and credibility to a film in the Best Picture race so its sad that he chose to deny Toy Story 3 of one of its easier gets. Now it will have a maximum of 6 noms which makes it look very weak compared to the other Best Pic contenders. Even 6 isn’t sure as it may yet miss in the sound categories and song, only picture, animated film and screenplay are sewn up.

    I would be infinitely thrilled if Social Network or Inception (or both) miss noms and perhaps even more thrilled if Daft Punk’s massive score for Tron Legacy gets in.

    The best work of the year remains, IMO, How To Train Your Dragon, the most traditionally gorgeous and most gorgeously traditional score of the year.

    Other notable work from the eligibility list includes The Ghost Writer (Desplat’s triumph), Alice In Wonderland, Legend of The Guardians, Howl and The American.

    I initially thought that John Powell had the Oscar all sewn up but it is so saddening that awards bodies cast such a shallow net when awarding their technical awards – hence the kudos for Inception, Black Swan, Social Network (filmtracks gave the score a zero star rating).

    Inception will join Babel as one of the worst winners ever in this category IMO.

  • 5 12-30-2010 at 6:47 am

    Loyal said...

    Tapley, is there any info on why Newman didn’t submit it? I’m just trying to figure out the rationale.

  • 6 12-30-2010 at 6:57 am

    Simon Warrasch said...

    I think this list with the following 10 scores include the 5 nominees and also the winner:

    Alice in Wonderland
    Another Year
    Biutiful
    The Ghost Writer
    How to train your Dragon
    Inception
    The King’s Speech
    Never let me go
    127 Hours
    The Social Network

  • 7 12-30-2010 at 7:00 am

    Graysmith said...

    In an ideal world:

    Alexandre Desplat, The Ghost Writer
    Sylvain Chomet, The Illusionist
    Hans Zimmer, Inception
    Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross, The Social Network
    Daft Punk, Tron Legacy

    But I’m sure none of them will get nominated and Gustavo Santaolalla will win yet another Oscar.

  • 8 12-30-2010 at 7:00 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    Loyal: Perhaps, burned by his experience last year, he saw another DQ coming. After all, “The Princess and the Frog” was initially ruled eligible, only for the branch to backtrack in January.

  • 9 12-30-2010 at 7:24 am

    Vn said...

    This is the electronic-enegineering sound musicians killing the traditional complex orchestral composers. Blame the music branch for admiting guys from U2 and some more as voters. The result is a list that has nothing to do with film music artistry.

    The Lastt Airbender and How to train your dragon are easily the best scores of the year. And NOT because they are orchestal but because these are scores that KNOW HOW TO follow a film in terms of music. Film music has to be adapted to the film it represents.

    Inception and The Social Network are fresh experiments, but in the end, SAMPLES. There’s no structure, no wave, it’s just music on a film, not music connecting with a film.

    Best Original Score is not an award that represents the best soundtrack of the year. But with this branch filled with rock and pop stars I guess next year nobody will know who the hell is that man called John Williams.

  • 10 12-30-2010 at 7:28 am

    Vn said...

    Randy Newman and some other “traditional” composers quit this year’s Oscar race. Nobody’s saying what’s happening in that music branch but something is happening.

    Alan Menken, by the way, has been DQ. Even when he purposedly wrote a separate score for Tangled that NOTHING to do with the songs. He hoped the Academy would not DQ him but here it is: a buch of people hating his work.

  • 11 12-30-2010 at 7:40 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    I also don’t get the disqualification of Menken (which is mentioned in the post, by the way), but to suggest that the branch “hates” an eight-time victor (and 18-time nominee) is patently absurd.

  • 12 12-30-2010 at 7:44 am

    Encore Entertainment said...

    Did Marianelli not submit for AGORA or was he disqualified? That’s the big omission for me, I mean obviously AGORA was going to get no love….but I was still hoping against hope for some artistic/technical love.

  • 13 12-30-2010 at 7:45 am

    Robert Hamer said...

    Wait a minute, is Hans Zimmer really the arguable front-runner? How did that happen?

  • 14 12-30-2010 at 7:57 am

    Chase Kahn said...

    @Vn – That opening piece that plays over the credits to “The Social Network” is as hard-wired to its subject and its character like no other film this year – you can have your “Last Airbender”, take it.

  • 15 12-30-2010 at 8:01 am

    Mr. F said...

    I was hoping Agora would get in this category since, after all Marianelli is part of the club. Shame the best score of the year wasn’t even submitted.

  • 16 12-30-2010 at 8:07 am

    Maxim said...

    Red_wine, no offense, but what you wrote about Newman and his “obligation” to submit his score and it being an easy get was just dumb. It was dumb because your claim that 6 vs 7 nominations sound “weak” and it was dumb because you don’t even understand that Newman may have pretty good reasons not to submit it anyway. In any case, cut him some slack. At the end of the day, Toy Story 3 won’t need any extra help (sadly).

    Again, I didn’t mean to offend you and I ditto about what you said about Babel and Inception.

    As I have mentioned previously, I think Danny Elfman’s score for Alice is quite good but I have two issues with it, the second of which brings up an interesting point as related to this discussion.

    But first I’ll start with the fact that the beginning of “Alice’s theme” sounds like it was taken straight out of John Williams’ Theme from “Hook”. I cannot trace it any further though I would not be shocked if it was possible.

    Second, as least as it sounds on the CD, the soundtrack seems to, shall we say make great use of it’s main theme and its variations. It is reprised in some form almost every other track. And it’s a good theme, don’t get me wrong but it does raise a question of whether the branch will start taking up issue with scores that build on themselves to a point where they will start counting minutes of non-repeated material? Probably not but something I wanted to mention.

    “but to suggest that the branch “hates” an eight-time victor (and 18-time nominee) is patently absurd.”

    I admit, this made me laugh.

    Vn’s first message sounds a bit extreme too but I know where he’s coming from. People tend to get a little too high on synth powered scores this year. Personally, I keep an open mind and think electronic scores can be effective and have their place. I just hope people are actually able to judge them objectively.

  • 17 12-30-2010 at 8:10 am

    Maxim said...

    I’d also argue that once you start eliminating “no-hopers” all categories will start looking rather small if not drab.

  • 18 12-30-2010 at 8:10 am

    geha714 said...

    My prediction:

    Daft Punk, TRON Legacy
    Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross, The Social Network
    Hans Zimmer, Inception
    John Powell, How To Train Your Dragon
    Alexander Desplat, either for The Ghost Writer or The King’s Speech

  • 19 12-30-2010 at 8:24 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    Robert: I’m not predicting it for the win, personally. But many others are.

  • 20 12-30-2010 at 8:34 am

    Loyal said...

    As for Inception, I’m hard-pressed to think of a recent score that has become so quickly entrenched into pop culture. Jurassic Park maybe?

    I’m excited to hear BRRRRRRRRMMMMMMM played throughout the Oscar broadcast.

  • 21 12-30-2010 at 8:40 am

    ann said...

    I really thought that the social network and the inception score would be disqualified. Glad they weren’t because those two are more favourite score of the year.

  • 22 12-30-2010 at 8:42 am

    Maxim said...

    “Wait a minute, is Hans Zimmer really the arguable front-runner? How did that happen?”

    He, to use the quote above, BRRRRRRRRMMMMMMMed his way through competition.

    The better question is: which of many Hans Zimmers was it? Will the real Zimmer please stand up?

    Please stand up?

    I actually don’t thik he’ll win either but if he does, it wil be a divisive one, that’s for sure.

  • 23 12-30-2010 at 8:53 am

    Vn said...

    Well, Marvin Hamlish is also an multiple Oscar winner and nominated composer and was snubbed last year. I defend that the music branch is not the same people as it was years ago. That’s why Aladdin, beauty and the Beast and all those Disney scores and songs won 8 Oscars and in 2007 they changed the rules so HE COULDN’T BE NOMINATED. And now, he get a unjustified DQ. That proves anything… Maybe is not as “extreme” as “hate” but they clearly are not confortable with Menken (and Newman) anymore.

    I also would love to see this branch judging electronic scores objectively. Electronic scores (as Desplat said in an interview a few months ago) are not new. The problem is these scores are seen as a fresh thing now. But there’s no orchestral-electronic music war.

    Goldsmith’s Star Trek was quite electronic at that time and that was a hell of a masterpiece.

  • 24 12-30-2010 at 9:01 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    “Well, Marvin Hamlish [sic] is also an multiple Oscar winner and nominated composer and was snubbed last year.”

    Which is not to say that they hate Hamlisch, either. Right?

  • 25 12-30-2010 at 9:06 am

    Maxim said...

    Vn, Menken got three nomination just a few years back and will get another one this year.He might have a harder time winning or getting in then before but man, this year he’s just in the some boat as many other composers. I think you are way too quick to jump to conclusions.

    The rules may have become tougher but people are mostly the same.

  • 26 12-30-2010 at 10:40 am

    Hans said...

    Wait, hold up! Why was Menken disqualified??

  • 27 12-30-2010 at 10:48 am

    Maxim said...

    Supposedly because the songs didn’t leave “enough” space for the score. In that way, it’s not unlike why Burwell was DQ’ed, except for the fact that Menken wrote all the music.

  • 28 12-30-2010 at 11:06 am

    Hans said...

    Wow that’s insane. Tangled didn’t have nearly as many songs as some of its Disney predecessors that went on to win the Original Score Oscar.

    Ugh, this bums me out because I actually think Tangled is superior to Toy Story 3 and I would love nothing more than for that film to be the animated darling of the year. It does look to be the Original Song frontrunner, though.

  • 29 12-30-2010 at 3:06 pm

    matsunaga said...

    I hope Alexandre Desplat gets recognize for both The Ghost Writer and Harry Potter…. I don’t think his score for The King’s Speeech is that good..

    Same as Elfman in Alice in Wonderland…

  • 30 12-30-2010 at 7:08 pm

    Trent said...

    I think this is gonna be either Inception or Tron Legacy.

  • 31 12-30-2010 at 9:00 pm

    Ben M. said...

    Figured Tangled would not be eligible because of the songs, so I’m not surprised by that choice.

    A little surprised that Newman didn’t submit TS3 given how hard Disney is pushing that film, but it is not the first near lock BP nom where the composer didn’t feel like submitting an otherwise eligible score, I remember Clint Eastwood did the same thing in 04 with Million Dollar Baby.

  • 32 12-30-2010 at 10:34 pm

    Paul S. said...

    I agree with Brad. It’s really sad that John Powell’s majestic score for How to Train Your Dragon is being ignored.

    I think it is without a doubt the best score of the year and certainly one of the most memorable I’ve heard in a long time. He deserves to win the Oscar.

    These are my favorite tracks:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r9TanR_3M0o

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WfHAuO2_Gc4&feature=related

  • 33 12-30-2010 at 11:22 pm

    Ross said...

    I believe Desplat will get two nominations – for both The King’s Speech and The Ghost Writer. How To Train Your Dragon will probably make the cut – the film’s popular enough and it has these sticky compositions. From then on, Inception will make it boring enough and for the fifth slot – either they’ll play cool with The Social Network (doubt it), or they’ll go with something cool but unexpected as well (The Illusionist) or they’ll be their old boring selves – Never Let Me Go or something like that. But in the end of the day, I always like the idea of the score nominations, because the branch rarely cares about precursors and it’s a good thing, because it’s supposed to be that way. They should vote on their own.

  • 34 1-12-2011 at 8:52 pm

    ARTHUR said...

    for sure… jhon powell has the best score this year…. I can’t see winning any other….i’ve heard all the favorites…. and this was more like an Oscar winning