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.
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.