Music in the Movies: 87th Oscar Nominees for Original Score

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Tonight the 87th Academy Awards ceremony will unveil the winners of the 2015 Oscars. I absolutely love going to the movies, and despite the fact that I did not have the chance to go to many this past year, rest assured I’ll be watching the Awards program so I can find out who has been selected for the Oscar for “Best Original Score” and, with only slightly less enthusiasm, “Best Original Song.”

While film scores have their sources in many different genres, typically dependent upon the nature and time period of the movie, the majority of music in film is rooted in the Western classical style and performed by orchestras when recorded in the studio. As such, despite an ongoing debate as to whether or not film music is legitimately “classical” or not, it is perhaps the most often heard “form” of classical music by the general public and often–today—the very first. It has become a popular way for symphony orchestras and choral groups to introduce themselves to the “uninitiated” live concert goer by the very fact that “the familiar” is being performed live and thereby more accessible and/or palatable. This is true for both “Original Score” works as well as many classical staples that are included in movie soundtracks (Carmina immediately jumps to mind).

Regardless of the debate … I love it all! Music in film fills an incredible, interesting, and fascinating role. It’s purpose is not necessarily to really be “heard,” but rather underscores what is happening on the screen, enhancing the dramatic narrative and giving it the “POW” of the emotional impact of what’s happening in the particular moment.  And I, personally, very much welcome its performance in the concert hall with or without images.

According to the Official Academy Awards Database, the first Music Scoring Oscar was given in 1934—the 7th Academy Awards–for One Night of Love with the thematic music by Victor Schetzinger and Gus Kahn. The Oscar was awarded to the Columbia Studio Music Department. It seems the movie studio’s music departments were the awardees until 1938 when the Original Score Award was actually introduced and went to Erich Wolfgang Korngold for The Adventures of Robin Hood. Apparently throughout The Academy’s history, the Award has gone by a variety of names and has included song scores and arrangements, and even been split into awards for scoring dramas and comedies. Most recently the music awards have been “Best Original Score” and “Best Original Song.”

Who has been nominated and won for an Original Score? There are lots of places to get this info sliced and diced in many different ways. But quickly for those trivia folks out there … Alfred Newman comes in first with the most awards with 9 wins, the prolific John Williams has won 5 Oscars with the most (44) nominations, and Alex North is the most-nominated composer to have never won with 14 nominations. However, he was awarded an Honorary Academy Award “in recognition of his brilliant artistry in the creation of memorable music for a host of distinguished motion pictures in 1985.” Only two women composers have won, Rachel Portman for Emma in 1996 and Anne Dudley for The Full Monty in 1997. And, there are a number of Oscar winning “classical” composers including Aaron Copland, John Corigliano, Tan Dun, Sir William Walton, and André Previn. Notable “classical” nominees have included Leonard Bernstein, Dimitri Shostakovich, Philip Glass, Peter Maxwell Davies, Kurt Weill, and Gian-Carlo Menotti.

So … without further adieu, here are the nominees for the 87th Academy Awards (click the links to read the film’s synopsis and view the trailers):

With two nominations this year, Alexandre Desplat has previously been nominated for Philmena (2013), Argo (2012), The King’s Speech (2010), Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009), The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008), The Queen (2006).

No stranger to The Academy as the Oscar Winner for The Lion King in 1994, this is Hans Zimmer’s tenth nomination. Past nominations include the films  Inception (2010), Sherlock Holmes (2009), Gladiator (2000), The Prince of Egypt (1998), The Thin Red Line (1998), As Good As It Gets (1997), The Preacher’s Wife (1994), and Rain Man (1988).

This is the first Academy Award nomination for Gary Yershon.

This is the first Academy Award nomination for Jóhann Jóhannsson.

While I’m not sure you’ll see any of these folks on the Red Carpet, I will ask … Are you ready for the big Oscar celebration? OK … get ready to break out the popcorn!!

The American Film Institute ranked Alex North’s score for A Streetcar Named Desire #19 on its list of the greatest film scores. His scores for the following films were also nominated for the list: Cleopatra (1963), The Misfits (1961), Spartacus (1960), Viva Zapata! (1952), and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966)

Upcoming Events

  • WMHT “No Ticket Required”: Tessa Lark with Ellen Hwangbo performs Grieg
  • WMHT-FM (Radio Broadcasts), Troy (NY)
    Friday, February 27th 2015 at 1:00 pm

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    Tuesday, March 3rd 2015 at 7:30 pm

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    Sunday, March 8th 2015 at 3:00 pm

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    Sunday, March 22nd 2015 at 3:00 pm

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    Saturday, April 11th 2015 at 7:30 pm

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    Sunday, April 19th 2015 at 3:00 pm

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    Friday, May 8th 2015 at 8:00 pm