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Oscar’s music branch keeps breaking things that ain’t fixed

Just some thoughts on the geniuses in the Academy’s music branch who felt only two entries deserved to be nominated in the music category. Our resident movie music expert Jon Burlingame had something in today’s paper about the same thing. I can’t say there’s a song out there that I’m passionate about, although I did hear the Elton John/Lady Gaga song when publicist Jeff Sanderson sent a link and thought it was one of the best things Elton has done in decades.

But in my opinion, the biggest Oscar music oversight of recent times was Eddie Vedder’s music for “Into the Wild,” either because the Academy eliminated the “song score” category or didn’t feel the music advanced the drama enough. In fact, the soundtrack was better than the movie, which was maybe part of the problem.

I think the Academy should simply vote for the best use of music period – whether it’s adapted from other sources or not – i.e. Carter Burwell’s use of traditional music in “True Grit,” Clint Mansell’s Tchaikovsky-inspired score for “Black Swan” or Howard Shore’s Wagneresque score for “A Dangerous Method.” In all three cases, the composers beautifully underscore the drama with unique orchestrations and tonalities that only they could pull off.

Was the soundtrack for “West Side Story” the best of its year? Absolutely! Did it win an Oscar? Deservedly yes. Would it win today? No, because it wasn’t “original.”      

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