Oscar time approaches, and here are the nominees for Best Original Score, with some thoughts on their presence in the running…
127 Hours (A.H. Rahman) – The story of Aron Ralston, who found himself trapped under a boulder after rock climbing and made the decision to hack his own arm off to escape, was directed by Danny Boyle. A.H. Rahman, who scored Boyle’s prior underdog hit Slumdog Millionaire, returns here. The big problem is that Slumdog Millionaire found a way out of the arthouse circuit, where 127 Hours didn’t. Chances: About as many as a one-armed man in a boxing ring.
The King’s Speech (Alexandre Desplat) – Alexandre Desplat has done good work in the past (The Ghost Writer, Fantastic Mr. Fox, Syriana) but his work here is just not particularly memorable. The reason why he’s here seems to be solely to bump up The King’s Speech to higher nomination numbers which, in my opinion, is just lazy. Chances: If the Academy voters were equally lazy and just voted down the King’s line, it will win. I think it will get bumped by another movie’s score though.
Inception (Hans Zimmer) – The most talked-about film of 2010 also had one of the best scores, wildly emotive but often dissonant, stretching the boundaries that divide electronic and traditional scores, and bringing Edith Piaf to a new audience in a whole new way. The score on CD stands as a great listen. Chances: Keep dreaming. This is more of a longshot than you think.
How To Train Your Dragon (John Powell) – John Powell is a longstanding member of Dreamworks Animation’s inner circle. He co-scored Antz, their first film, with Harry Gregson-Williams. For an animated film, the soundtrack is extremely epic-sounding and absolutely worthy of inclusion of nomination. Chances: “It’s a cartoon, for crying out loud. You insult us!”
The Social Network (Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross) – Many believe The Social Network to be the Oscar front-runner, ignoring everything about The King’s Speech: It’s thoroughly British, it’s about royalty, it’s about overcoming disability, and it’s about to walk away with Oscars right and left. In order to save face, The Social Network will be seen as the score co-written by the guy from Nine Inch Nails, so it is edgy, dangerous and doesn’t fall into the usual Hollywood shtick. Chances: Hollywood loves it’s shtick though. The King’s Speech walks away with almost everything except this category, and the voters can disavow any latent Anglophilia they might harbor. This score should win on its merits, not on this door-prize of a consolation, but that’s the scent in the air.
Liberation – A.H. Rahman from 127 Hours
The King’s Speech – Alexandre Desplat from The King’s Speech
Counter Attack – John Powell from How To Train Your Dragon
Intriguing Possibilities – Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross from The Social Network
Time – Hans Zimmer from Inception