Composer's win underscores newcomer, int'l trends

French composer Ludovic Bource’s original score win for “The Artist” surprised virtually no one, as it plays a critical role in the pacing, humor and emotional context of Michel Hazanavicius’ film.

And Oscar likes rewarding newcomers. Over the past 15 years, 13 statuettes went to composers who hadn’t won before, and six of those were for first-time nominees.

Oscar voters clearly like their music with an international flavor as well: Ten of the past 15 score Oscars went to composers born outside of the U.S.

“You have given me a great honor,” an emotional Bource said in heavily accented English. “Please accept me because I”ve got so much love to give.”

Bource was apparently untainted by the controversy over the director’s choice to appropriate composer Bernard Herrmann’s love theme from Hitchcock’s “Vertigo” during the film’s climax, which prompted Kim Novak to take out a full-page ad in Variety decrying the musical borrowing as a form of artistic “rape.”

The composer pointed out that he had written music for that six-minute stretch but that Hazanavicius preferred his “temp track” of Herrmann music and licensed it instead.

Sheer quantity of music also can be a factor in an Oscar win, especially when voters notice the wall-to-wall scoring in movies like “The Artist” or the equally music-heavy “Star Wars.”

For “The Artist,” Bource worked for eight months, creating two and a half hours of music, of which 80 minutes wound up in the final cut, performed by Belgium’s Brussels Philharmonic.

Echoes of Golden Age greats Max Steiner and Franz Waxman can be heard as Bource sought to emulate the classic-Hollywood style of 1930s scores, as well as impart an unmistakable French character via inspiration from Ravel and Debussy.

Bource, 41, is a film-scoring novice compared to fellow nominees John Williams, Howard Shore and Alberto Iglesias. “The Artist” is only his fifth feature film, after three Hazanavicius comedies (including two “OSS 117″ spy spoofs, also with “Artist” star Jean Dujardin) and a documentary.

Bource’s score topped a pair of Williams’ scores for “The Adventures Of Tintin” and “War Horse,” Shore for “Hugo” and Iglesias for “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.”

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