Unsolvable Mysteries: Oscars for Best Musical Score
It’s really hard to explain some things in this godforsaken world: the post-9/11 Iraq War (“Afghans attacked us, so we’re going to invade Iraq”), the Loch Ness monster, Silvio Berlusconi, curling, string theory, the X-Files conspiracy, Donald J. Trump, and, of course, the Academy Award for Best Original Music (Scoring). Fair enough, they get it right sometimes but those Academy voters baffle more often than not. Their puzzling choosing criteria remain one of the most enduring mysteries of our time.
For instance, how come Thomas Newman was nominated for this
and, years prior, David Arnold didn’t receive a nod for this?
Why did Gustavo Santaolalla get an award for a musical score that was basically only this:
Perhaps it’s a case of jenniferlawrenceitis. (Can you conceive of anyone not picking Emanuelle Riva for her devastating performance in Amour?)
And don’t get me started with Bernard Herrmann. Yes, he won an Oscar in the beginning of his career, but he wasn’t even nominated for this
or, well, you-know-what.
They hate thrillers, perhaps?
And action, too. A biblical-sounding derivative score will beat a majestic western masterpiece anytime. (Oh, and John Williams, who had played the piano in Bernstein’s original recording, borrowed that introduction for the leitmotif of his own The Towering Inferno main title.)
Finally, there is the very specific trouble with Ennio. The famed Italian composer has been snubbed constantly. He was nowhere in sight in 1985 when he wrote this:
Nor in 1989 after making every filmgoer cry when they listened to this:
Nor, obviously, in 1969 for this:
In 1987, Herbie Hancock won the Oscar for what amounted to two or three tracks in an otherwise non-original soundtrack full of great jazz standards. (Where was the Academy when Miles Davis wrote the score for Elevator to the Gallows?) As weird as it sounds, Morricone, a nominee, lost with this:
They did give him a consolation… er, an Honorary Award in 2007 — after Martin Scorsese strong-armed them to do so, according to legend. In 2016, Morricone is back on the nominees list with yet another great score. Here’s looking forward to a crowning victory. So let me finish this piece by addressing The Academy voters directly.
This time, ladies and mostly gentlemen, no matter your rationale (if there was ever one), if you snub Ennio…
You. Are. All. Going. To. Hell.