There is no established guild in the United States that recognizes the work of film composers, which limits the amount of precursor awards given for Best Original Score. Two of the significant indicators are the Golden Globe Awards and the Critics choice awards, both of which have a category that recognizes film scores. Between 2009 and 2011 the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and the Broadcast Film Critic Association have chosen the same winner all three times and in the two years preceding this one that winner has gone on to win the Academy Award. The recent trend would indicate that Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’ score for The Social Network is the frontrunner for the Academy Award. However, going back beyond three years, the Golden Globes and Critics Choice Awards have a long history of disagreement with the Academy. What kind of year will this be?
In mid-January, before the Oscar nominations were announced and before the DGA and PGA gave their top prizes to The King’s Speech, the Oscar race was leaning heavily in favor of The Social Network. The film was the favorite to win major Academy Awards like Best Picture and Best Director, and it was assumed its major wins would carry some of the films technical elements to victory as well. Thus it was easy to place The Social Network as the frontrunner in some pretty significant technical categories like Best Original Score. However, after The King’s Speech landed a stunning 12 Oscar nominations and took home significant guild prizes it seems like everything is tilting towards its favor. It is now expected that Tom Hooper’s film will be the big winner come Oscar night and many of The Social Network‘s hopes have been dashed in major and minor categories alike.
Alexandre Desplat is a recent favorite of the Academy with his score for The King’s Speech earning him his fourth Oscar nomination in five years. Not only will he be riding the wave of support for his film, but he also earns some points for the overdue factor. The Academy likes to right any of its past wrongs and it may see Desplat’s losses for his composing in The Queen or The Curious Case of Benjamin Button as mistakes of the past that need to be corrected. With so many recent nominations his name has become almost household even for people who don’t pay attention to movie scores and that notoriety should get his name written down on many Oscar ballots.
Some categories at the Oscars have an “in the club” mentality where they are unlikely to award nominees who have not proven themselves in the industry. The music branch is definitely one of those categories as they frequently use their bizarre rules to eliminate movie scores that are outside of their normal pattern of nominees. Take 2007 as an example when they eliminated Johnny Greenwood’s brilliant and subversive score for There Will Be Blood because it contained elements of other works. The Social Network is the first film score for Trent Reznor and second for Atticus Ross, so they are not yet “in the club.” They may not have proven themselves like Desplat (4th nomination), Zimmer (9th nomination), or Rahman (2nd nomination).
Speaking of Hans Zimmer, his epic and booming score for Inception was one of the most widely loved of the year as it was singled out in many reviews of Christopher Nolan’s film. With Inception appearing to be this year’s strongest contender in the technical categories, it could garner enough support from some branches to sneak ahead of the Best Picture frontrunners. It also has a memorable, repetitive bass line that will no doubt ring in Academy voters’ ears when they sit down to fill out their ballots.
A.R. Rahman was a somewhat surprise nominee for his 127 Hours score and he seems the least likely contender as his film has gotten little precursor support and he won as recently as two years ago. There is a lot of support around the internet (including here on Film Misery) for John Powell’s How to Train Your Dragon score, but despite Dreamworks’ recent promotional push, it does not seem likely to contend with The King’s Speech and The Social Network.
Predicted to Win: Alexandre Desplat – The King’s Speech
Potential Spoiler: Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross – The Social Network
Deserves to Win: Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross – The Social Network
Should Have Been Nominated: Randy Newman – Toy Story 3
Listen to segments from all of the nominated scores below and vote for your favorite in the poll!
How to Train Your Dragon
The King’s Speech
The Social Network