Tuesday, January 25, 2011

OSCAR NOMINEES 2011: The music and sound categories

To much fanfare, the 2011 Academy Award nominations were released today.  You can grab an entire list of the nominations here.  Here's an analysis of the music and sound nominees.

Best Original Song

Who was snubbed (not that it matters): "You Haven't Seen the Last of Me" from Burlesque, the Golden Globe winner in the very same category.  Burlesque had two songs nominated for the Golden Globes, including the eventual winner.  Both were shut out, which I'm very OK with.  One less bad Cher or Christina Aguilera performance on television.

Happy to be there: "If I Rise" from 127 Hours.  The song from Slumdog Millionaire winner A.R. Rahman wasn't nominated for the Golden Globes at all and is likely a resume inclusion as a former winner.

Who will win: This category is wide-open really.  The sentimental vote is going to bring another non-Golden Globe nominee the win and that's "We Belong Together" from Toy Story and Academy-face Randy Newman, besting "I See the Light" from Tangled.

Best Original Score

Who was snubbed:  In one of the most egregious omissions from all the nominees, Daft Punk's brilliant electronic/orchestra score for Tron: Legacy deserves to be there.  It's a surprise too, because the Academy has done a decent job of respecting things that are out of the box and non-traditional like previous nominees and winners like current nominee Trent Reznor, Three Six Mafia, and Eminem.  I could also recommend Marc Streitenfeld's decent work on Robin Hood.  Two big snubs came from technicalities in strict Academy rules.  Clint Mansell's score for Black Swan was disqualified because it had too much of the Tchaikovsky ballet in it and Carter Burwell's for True Grit was combined with non-original gospel hymns of the period.  The same thing happened last year for Michael Giacchino's great work on the new Star Trek because it still contained musical cues from the original TV series music by Alexander Courage (though he wound up winning for Up on his own, and rightfully so). 

Happy to be there: John Powell's work in How To Train Your Dragon.  The score is a good one with nice tones of Scandanavian earthiness with animated action and jubilation, but it doesn't stand a chance against the big nominees of Inception, The King's Speech, or The Social Network.

Who will win:  Sadly in this reviewer's mind, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross's percolating score for The Social Network already won the Golden Globe and will win the Oscar over the far-superior score and epic work of Hans Zimmer's Inception.  Zimmer's score is the best of his outstanding career and he's never won the big one.  He'll get beat by the alt-rock upstarts.

Best Sound Editing

Who was snubbed:  These technical categories are tricky, but you can make a case of the combined sound-effects and musical array that is Scott Pilgrim vs. The World or the superhero heroics of Iron Man 2. 

Happy to be thereUnstoppable is worthy of the nomination for creating the best inanimate creature-feature of recent years out of a speeding train, but outmatched by the bigger names.  The audio fireworks of Tron: Legacy deserve to be there too. 

Who will win: This better go to Inception.  Top to bottom, it's the most technically accomplished and polished movie of the year and should sweep these types of categories.

Best Sound Mixing

Who was snubbed:  Just as in Sound Editing, you can make an argument for the razzle-dazzle of shows like Tron: Legacy, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1, Iron Man 2, and Scott Pilgrim vs. The World over the stuffy nominees like The King's Speech and True Grit.

Happy to be thereSalt.  Dumb movie, lots of explosions.  The voters must have thought Angelina's voice was snake oil in their sound-mixing ears or that it would get her to show up on the red carpet.

Who will win:  Once again, this is the kind of category Inception deserves to win, but don't discount the favoritism and populist votes towards The King's Speech and The Social Network more for their reputations than their deserved efforts.