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Academic Insights for the Thinking World

And the Oscar goes to “Up,” of course.

Lauren, Publicity Assistant

Kathryn Kalinak is Professor of English and Film Studies at Rhode Island College. Below, she reflects on Sunday’s Oscar (Original 9780195370874Score) presentation, and her own predictions from Friday, presented both here on OUPBlog, and on WNYC’s Soundcheck.

And congratulations to Joseph Brown! In last week’s contest, he correctly predicted both Oscar Music category winners. Joseph will be receiving a copy of Kathryn’s most recent book, Film Music: A Very Short Introduction.

If there was a surprise in the Original Score Oscar race Sunday, it was only the break dancing performances accompanying selections from the five nominated scores. Compared to the other presentations, the break dancing seemed to me a shameless grab for a youthful demographic. The Writing nominees, for instance, were announced with images of screenplays projected over corresponding scenes—an effective reminder of what a film owes to its writing. Yet the Academy could not come up with a better way to honor this year’s fine slate of scores? To have watched a scene from Sherlock Holmes without Hans Zimmer’s eclectic instrumentation, and then to have watched it with all the tension and excitement lent by the score would have surely been a more appropriate way to showcase the importance of music in film.

The composers of this year’s Original Scores are all deserving, hard-working, and extremely talented. Although I predicted Michael Giacchino would receive an Oscar for his work on Up—as he did—this is one year I wouldn’t have minded being wrong.

Though I appreciate Giacchino’s beautifully melodic score, Alexandre Desplat is due! For Fantastic Mr. Fox he used instruments like a mandolin, ukulele, celeste, banjo, and a Jew’s harp to create a whimsical and inventive sound—the perfect match for such a quirky stop-action animated film. With six film scores in 2009, four in 2008, and six in 2007, Desplat might be Hollywood’s hardest working composer. He’s already scored a film currently in theaters (The Ghost Writer), and five more are in post-production, including the newest Harry Potter film. Given Desplat’s incredible productivity, we shouldn’t have to wait long for another nomination, or (hopefully) a win.

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