In a statement, Sanchez said, “It was an honor to work on this wonderful film and collaborate with a brilliant director like Alejandro González Iñárritu on ‘Birdman.’ I’m deeply disappointed that the music branch of the Academy did not recognize my score as eligible, even after receiving a detailed cue sheet, a letter from the president of music at Fox studios, and a description of the process from both Alejandro and myself.
“The disqualification seems to stem from the perception that my score was diluted by the incidental music on the film. I strongly disagree with this idea. The music that people remember after watching the movie is the sound, originality, character, and strength of my score, which seems to be the reason it continues to receive attention, nominations, and awards, which I’m deeply humbled by. Some of the finest composers are members of the Academy, and I’m saddened my score didn’t resonate with the decision makers.”
Sanchez’s drum score met the Academy’s requirement about the number of music cues in the score. However, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences’ Rule 15 states that “Scores diluted by the use of tracked themes or other pre-existing music, diminished in impact by the predominant use of songs, or assembled from the music of more than one composer shall not be eligible.”
“Birdman” uses snippets of Mahler and Tchaikovsky, among others, but the drumming clearly dominates the music score. In an interview with Variety, filmmaker Inarritu said, “One week before we started shooting, I explained to Antonio what I needed. He immediately got it and he started improvising beats. We made several tracks, those were the guidelines for me to understand the beats and find the tempo to each scene.”
Sanchez won awards from various critics groups for his score, which is nominated for a Golden Globe and Critics’ Choice Award.