‘Black Swan’ & ‘True Grit’ Scores Ineligible For Academy Awards

Published 4 years ago by , Updated March 9th, 2013 at 1:46 pm,

Academy Awards snub original scores Black Swan & True Grit Scores Ineligible For Academy Awards

Get your pitchforks out and light the torches because the Academy Awards are at it again. Each year it seems a popular movie is knocked out of contention before the nominations are announced out of some pre-existing rule for qualifications. Now, four contenders for Original Score have been eliminated from Oscar contention.

Variety reports the scores for Black Swan and True Grit have been disqualified due to “the use of tracked themes or other pre-existing music.” In addition, The Fighter and The Kids Are All Right have also been taken out of competition as they are “diminished in impact by the predominant use of songs.” There are plenty of great scores from this year, but these were definite contenders. In fact, Black Swan would only be half as effective without Clint Mansell’s beautiful adaptation of Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake.”

Alas, rules are rules. This isn’t the first time the Academy has shut out a popular choice in the category. The Dark Knight was disqualified in 2009 because it had five names associated with the original score, which the Academy deemed as too many.

While it is a shame these rules shun great work, they promote and reward originality. While Mansell may have created his own haunting rendition of “Swan Lake,” it was still an adaptation of previously created work. The 19th-century hymns from which Carter Burwell’s True Grit scores mostly originate from also finds itself in this category.

Natalie Portman in Black Swan still Black Swan & True Grit Scores Ineligible For Academy Awards

The Academy shuts the door on Clint Mansell's 'Black Swan' score

The argument for The Fighter and The Kids Are All Right seem a little more reasonable. While original music exists, the films are enhanced by the use of songs. If this rules did not exist, we would wonder why great compilation soundtracks like Garden State or any Martin Scorsese movie was never nominated.

Other scores from this year used pre-existing music, but will likely make it through the gauntlet. The Social Network gave us an adaptation of In The Hall of the Mountain King (heard in the regatta scene). The King’s Speech thrives on the implementation of Beethoven’s 7th and Inception blatantly exposes the secret wonders of a slowed-down Edith Piaf song. 127 Hours was another film driven by music, but most of it was adapted or unoriginal.

While we will miss Clint Mansell and Carter Burwell at the Oscars, the category is still loaded with gems. Daft Punk’s TRON: Legacy score is scintillating and Hans Zimmer’s previously mentioned music for Inception has been in people’s heads since this summer. Rachel Portman’s haunting score in Never Let Me Go has a great chance to earn a nomination but I would be surprised if The Social Network found its way into the mix with its electronic style, but it was one of the year’s most popular.

What scores do you think have the best chance for Oscar gold now? Are you disappointed by the Academy’s nomination boundaries? Sound off in the comments section below.

Source: Variety

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  1. I hate that awards shows are so political. How come The Social Network, The King’s Speech and others will probably make it through, but Black Swan and True Grit are out? It seems so arbitrary that it’s infuriating. At this point I don’t care who wins…I don’t need an award show to tell me what’s a good movie, who’s a good actor or what’s a good score.

  2. “Hans Zimmer’s previously mentioned music for Inception has been in people’s heads since this summer.” Well said. Hans Zimmer deserve it.

    • The Inception soundtrack has been playing in my head for the past 4 months. It’s that powerful and memorable, imo.

      Also… this has been a good year for movie music in general, especially with Tron Legacy, The Social Network and Black Swan.

    • wow, all it takes is 4 chords, repeated ad nauseam to impress you?

      I’m glad you’re not on any music competition judging panels.

      The music to Inception is the one thing that almost made me stop watching the wretched film until the end.

        • the problem is, my tastes aren’t “esoteric” at all.
          I loved Avatar. Obviously it seems the majority of your forum participants loathe James Cameron and all of his films.

          I have enjoyed pretty much every film that M. Night Shyamalan has made. I think it’s rather obvious that your audience here, along with most of your writers, are quite clearly in the “Shyamalan is a hack” camp.

          Now, when you talk about movies, you use what experience you have regarding them.

          Well, permit me, as a living breathing, working professional composer to have opinions on music in films. I’ll even let you slam M. Night all you want, as long as you don’t suggest that my tastes are too “high brow” for your audience here on Screen Rant.

          It’s kind of interesting that you trash certain movie makers, certain films, yet, appear to be so uncritical of a fundamental aspect of movie making: the score.

          I don’t expect film composers to be the next Mozart. But I’d far rather a decent quality score than the garbage that is going for hire these days in Hollywood. And excuse me for being saddened by the completely uncritical, and uneducated, reactions to film music that accompany the vast majority of the posts on ANY film forum.

          If you can be “impressed” by four chords, well, I would like the freedom to point out that there is nothing to be particularly impressed by four chords, so stop calling it “genius”.

          • Mike E.,

            Well you’ll have to excuse me for thinking your tastes are esoteric. Based on the vast majority of your comments here where you disparage not only the authors but other commenters – that certainly seemed a reasonable conclusion.

            Apart from Avatar, there isn’t a James Cameron film that I’m NOT a big fan of.

            If you’ve enjoyed every Shyamalan film, good for you, most people don’t. Personally, I loved Sixth Sense, really liked Unbreakable, thought Signs was pretty good, wasn’t that hard on The Village, thought Lady in the Water was a joke and The Happening was MST3K material.

            I think where a lot of the animosity comes from towards these two directors is who they are as people: Completely and utterly arrogant individuals. That doesn’t play well for most people (myself included).

            And no, I’m not well-versed in music. To me the sign of a great score is when it lifts and buoys a film, adds to the tension, excitement, etc. That’s the purpose of a musical score in a film as far as I’m concerned.

            So although you don’t think your tastes are “esoteric” – you certainly come across that way in your comments. As far as I’m concerned you talk down to most everyone here – you’d win a lot more people to your side of the argument of you were less condescending.

            Best regards,


            • Mike E: As a composer, you should know there is more to a score than one track. To discredit the hard work of one of your colleagues because you don’t like one section of their overall work on a film seems a bit harsh. Try the other tracks in the film which thrive on his orchestral work, like Time. Mombasa is an exciting, pulse-pumping rhythm that only enhanced the foot chase scene it accompanies in the film.

            • you realize that saying “(I) thought lady in the water was a joke” is just as much “talking down to, and condescending to anyone who actually appreciated that film.

              • No, Mike, condescending would be “I suppose you might think ‘Lady in the Water’ was a good film if you have no taste in movies.”

                That’s condescending.


  3. I hope “Inception” will win the Oscar for best score. It certainly deserves it. Not only does it perfectly compliment the film, but it stands on its own as enjoyable music. I think “Inception” might be one of Zimmer’s best scores ever. The subtle touches to it, such as the sounds of water, really enhance the dreamworld of the film. Just great stuff.

    • I love it so much, but I still think Gladiator is his best.

      • yh

  4. Same thing happened to the Godfather. Apparently the score was too similar to the composer’s previous films’ and was taken out of the running. It was apparently a shoo-in. I say, if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it.

    • really? then Avatar shouldn’t have been nominated because he just copy/pasted his Troy and Titanic scores.

  5. No Black Swan? Sham.

  6. The Social Network and Tron Legacy owned it. I would go with Tron because it plays a role in the movie. In The Social Network it compliments situations but in Tron the music sets the pace and the mood and without it I wouldnt have felt the way I did. The score to Tron played a larger role than the dialogue did, to me atleast.

  7. At least they have better standards than the Grammys, music’s “premiere” awards show telecast…

  8. I liked the score for Black Swan so I feel bad about that, yet I don’t mind that True Grit is ineligible, I hated the score.

    Wait, so The Social Network is in? I though that there was a rule against a film with more than 1 composer being allowed. That was one of the main reasons why The Dark Knight score was ineligible if I recall correctly.

    Either way I do not get the love that the score for The Social Network and Inception are receiving. I just didn’t like the score for The Social Network and Bill I feel the opposite for Zimmer’s Inception. I think its one his weakest but hey its just me.

    Maybe now How To Train Your Dragon can get in.

  9. I think Zimmer is a front runner now, but Daft Punk amazing score from TRON: Legacy is going to be a strong contender.

  10. geez.. the whole yellow font for the titles and white for your entrys is so hard on the eyes. its like reading the script for skyline.

    • no, the script for Skyline was hard on the brains, not the eyes. :)

  11. For me, the top 5 scores of the year would be:
    1. 127 Hours
    2. Inception
    3. Let Me In
    4. Black Swan
    5. Toy Story 3

  12. I just saw Black Swan last night and half the awesomeness it already was, was the score. Gonna see True Grit when it comes out Wednesday but Carter Burwell always have great scores. To bad the academy is disqualifying them both. Oh well there are other awards those two will get that are noteworthy too.

  13. It’s just ridiculous.

    They have already decided what films they want to win.

    By the by, Tron Legacy is easily the best soundtrack of the year.

  14. To use the same logic, wouldn’t all remakes have to be excluded from the best film category for not being original enough?

    Personally i haven’t cared about the Oscars for almost twenty years. Just remember, these are the people who gave 1976′s director Oscar to John Avildsen (for Rocky) while not even nominating Scorcese for Taxi Driver!

    • Yeah, and I know which film I would rather watch. Rocky all the way!!!!

      • Over Taxi Driver!? To each his own though :).

        • I’m not a huge DeNiro fan if I’m being honest.

          I am a Scorcese fan though, and I do like the film, but if someone put a gun to my head and said which one would you rather watch… I’d go for the awesome feelgoodness of Rocky every time.

      • Whether Rocky or Taxi Driver is better is irrelevant to my point. Taxi Driver had significant director input, Rocky did not, it was about the story, the characters and the fight at the end. All these are to the credit of the writer and the actors,even the fight at the end was staged not by Avildsen but by Stallone. In other words, as is suggested by their latter work, Avildsen was a workman going along for the ride, Scorcese was a craftsman who made a significant contribution to the film’s quality, yet the former takes home the Oscar and the latter is not even nominated.

        And don’t get me started on My Cousin Vinny – that was the best supporting female performance of the entire year? Better than Judy Davis and Vanessa Redgrave?

        The Oscars are a joke – an overlong, boring, unfunny joke.

  15. It’s weird that they are disqualified when The Social Network has Mountain King and Inception has the slow-mo of Edith Piaf (but don’t get me wrong, super happy both of those got by and are in contention).

    It’s about time they invent the Best Adapted Score Award. It makes sense to me. Of What’s left, I hope for TSN or Tron. Seeing Trent Reznor (and Atticus Ross) or Daft Punk walk away with an oscar would be pretty rad.

  16. Same thing happened to Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood for his score to “There Will Be Blood”. He used one or two songs from his own previous original work called Popcorn Supherhet Reciever and was disqualified for that. A shame seeing as how the work he used was his own and he probably should have won that year. The score really enhanced the movie. The scene when the pump or tower ( not sure what that is called ) caught on fire and the chaos that followed is a prime example.

  17. I saw “Black Swan” with some friends last night. One of my friends and I were talking about the genius adaptation of the “Swan Lake” music and another friend looked surprised and said, “Wait. That’s really the music from ‘Swan Lake?’”

    I couldn’t even look at her. That score will definitely be missed.

  18. I guess they have to stick to their rules, but it is rather unfortunate that these movies didn’t make it in. I’ve heard great things about both.

  19. Zimmer should win for Inception!

    His track Time from the soundtrack should win him the Oscar all by itself quite frankly.

  20. I think in some ways these award shows are becoming increasingly political and mainly tokenistic.

    Award shows have never influenced which movies I want to see and buy anyway.

  21. Not surprised at all about this. I walked out of Black Swan at TIFF in September and said, “Another masterpiece by Aronofsky and another brilliant collaboration with Mansell. Shame he’s going to be ineligible because he adapted sections of Swan Lake”. True story. I have audio.

  22. the awards rules as a whole seem to reflect the movie-making parameters of a slightly older era. in the postmodern, creatively in-flux world of today, more work is done by collaboration and more “source material” is used like clay to be resculpted than in previous times. the academy always seems a bit behind trends- not that they don’t ever “get it right”, but there’s an increasingly obvious lean toward the staid and traditional, particularly in terms of the non-acting “craft” awards.

  23. Both Black Swan and True Grit use music appropriate to the theme and setting of their stories- the music is well crafted for each movie and the movies would have not been the powerful pieces that they are without the traditional music reworked to fit the specific themes of the visual product.
    Yet, when a ‘chick flick’ wants musical background music, they rely on the 50′s crooners (i.e., Frank Sinatra) even if the stories are supposed to be set in the 21st century. How unoriginal and inappropriate is that?
    Shame on the academy for not recognizing the APPROPRIATE use of music in building themes and designing great art!