For many of those die hard Oscar nominee fans who were up really really early yesterday morning awaiting the much anticipated announcements for Best Picture that did include celebrated releases such as Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook, Argo, Les Miserables along with surprises such as Zero Dark Thirty, Life of Pi and Amour amongst the ten best films of 2012.
Lincoln was obviously the big winner with a lofty 12 nominations including Best Picture and also for Best Original Score by John Williams, which featured one of his low key but really special efforts to which Williams' is a master of. Somehow, Williams' nomination was really all that not surprising considering his incredible Oscar nominated track record which includes five decades worth of nominations and wins for Star Wars, E.T., Jaws, Schindler's List, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Saving Private Ryan, Nixon, The Witches of Eastwick and last year, going up against himself basically for both War Horse and The Adventures of Tin Tin which both lost.
However, there were a few major and pleasant surprises in this category that included Thomas Newman's first effort for the James Bond film. Skyfall and resulting in yet another Oscar nomination (he was nominated previously for Little Women, The Shawshank Redemption, The Good German, Wall-E, The Road To Perdition, Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events and American Beauty). This is also another first for the Bond franchise which resulted in the first original score for a film in the series to even be considered or even nominated for the Golden statue as mainly the film's stand out songs throughout the series franchise have been nominated in the past and which now includes, Adele's title song for the film. Out of all the surprises for this category, this one really took the big piece of cake and a deserving one at that.
Mychael Danna's Life of PI, which I also placed in the best of 2012 list along with Skyfall, Lincoln and Argo amongst others, was another standout in this category to be nominated as the film as really started to rise in the box office charts and now seems poised to aim even higher with it's multiple nominations for Danna's lovely score was easily one of his best works in quite a long time and his "Pi's Lullaby" track, also got a nomination in the Best Song category for his efforts.
Argo is another film that got multiple nominations and was a major hit with both critics and earning a solid 110 million dollar gross for its outstanding efforts. While Ben Affleck himself was snubbed in two categories, Alexandre Desplat's thematic and adrenaline pumping score was recognized by the Academy voters and well deserving over his other his other Oscar nominated film, Zero Dark Thirty. This is easily the much better of the two scores and a great thing the voters did choose this one.
While I did not review or get the chance to review Dario Marianelli's Anna Karenina, Marianelli did win a well deserved Oscar for his lush and typewriter included score to Antonement, which was a romantically styled work. Anna is a score that is probably no different than that one is and I'm very sure that the Academy voters who have a habit of nominating Classical based scores (see past works such as The Red Violin, Frieda as examples), nominated the score for that reason and the fact that Marianelli won, almost kind of disqualifies him from winning again this time around.
After such a lackluster year in terms of great original films save the ones that did get nominated, this list of nominees is somewhat of hodgepodge of styles and old school traditions that would go over most heads nowadays or could be really enjoyed on their own merits. Lincoln is a score that I've stated many times is a very subtle score, not a forceful one. It is a score in the Williams tradition that breathes life into the film when it needs to, not forces itself upon the film as a fifth wheel like most people claimed his score for Saving Private Ryan did 15 years ago.
I've been a huge fan of Thomas Newman's since i was growing up and I was really excited and also stunned his exciting score for Skyfall got nominated. Stunned simply because no Bond scores have ever gotten nominated other than their songs and also because the Academy recognized Newman's effort as a fresh and contemporary work that really does fit this generation of voters. It would be wonderful if he finally won after so many near misses and robberies such as Wall-E, American Beauty and The Good German.
Life of Pi while it didn't make my top ten list, it was a great effort on Mychael Danna's part and very fresh and original. It's the style that I've come to know and associate Danna since his first score that i heard from him in the mid 90's, Exotica. However, there was a lush, romantic style to this score that was also new and really put the score over the top which is a major plus for these voters who do like exotic and lush sounds. Look at Slumdog Millionare for example, which I still don't think should've won to this day.
For Alexandre Desplat, Argo was the second film in his, what I would call Middle Eastern trilogy which started with his Oscar nominated score for the terrific and underrated film, Syriana, which starred George Clooney and Matt Damon. Clooney who is the producer of Argo, was wise enough to convince Ben Affleck to give the assignment to Desplat who had scored The Ides of March for Clooney himself and scored in spades with that film. The score to Argo is pulse pounding and suspense score that mixes alot of exotic and traditional MIddle Eastern instruments, made the film just as compelling as his music is on CD. I'm personally happy that this score got nominated ahead of Zero Dark Thirty, the final film in the trilogy is a good score but a dark brooding work that is unlike this one, which does have melodies and moments of excitement.
Before the actual Oscar ceremonies take place in a few weeks, the voters will have time to ponder their choices and choose the best of the best in their respective categories. Film soundtrack fans will also have to ponder, why they like to win and who they don't want to see win. They'll have their reasons, they'll have their arguments but in the end, it doesn't really matter because we don't have a say in it. However, a few weeks is still enough time to convince some people who deserves to win and who doesn't. It worked for Siskel & Ebert on their shows, it could work here. Wait, I'm getting ahead of myself here...or maybe not. I sense a "If Picked The Winner's" like article in my future... maybe?