×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Oscar Eligibility Decisions Give Musical Scores a Shot

Oscar’s disqualification of the original scores for “Arrival” and “Manchester by the Sea” have been much-debated in the music community in recent weeks. What has garnered considerably less attention, but may have a big impact on the music competition in years to come, is how the Academy music branch has treated this year’s musicals.

For the first time in many years, the branch executive committee has declared all of the year’s major year-end songfests – including “La La Land,” “Moana,” “Sing” and “Trolls” – eligible for the “original score” Academy Award.

This is a marked difference from previous years, when song-dominated films have been routinely disqualified from the score Oscar on the basis of a long-standing Oscar rule denying eligibility if “it has been diminished in impact by the predominant use of songs.”

Last year, for example, the dramatic score for “Straight Outta Compton” was declared ineligible under this rule, and in 2013, the score for “Frozen” was similarly barred from the competition — because there were songs in both. In earlier years, the background scores for such song-dominated films as “Enchanted” and “Happy Feet” were also declared ineligible.

So what’s changed? The rules remain the same, according to Academy officials. It is the interpretation of those rules that appears to be in flux.

This year, the Academy seems to have thrown the doors open wide, announcing that 145 original scores were eligible for 2016 films, a much higher total than in previous years (in 2015, there were 112; in 2014, there were 114; and in 2013, also 114).

The eyebrow-raisers were the inclusion of the scores for “La La Land” by Justin Hurwitz, “Moana” by Mark Mancina, “Sing” by Joby Talbot, and “Trolls” by Christophe Beck. “La La Land” and “Moana” each contain several original songs, and both “Sing” and “Trolls” feature numerous covers. (Beck was also the composer of “Frozen,” which the branch disqualified in 2013.)

Senior music-branch governor Charles Bernstein denies that any precedent is being broken, or newly established. “Each achievement is looked at,” he says. “If that achievement gets a bit of an advantage from the songs, would it be unfair to disqualify it? Each year the committee looks at each (entry) and comes to a conclusion. All of the scores stood on their own.”

Fellow governor Laura Karpman expressed similar thoughts: “Every single score was considered, and all the ramifications were considered with great, great care. Everybody is very diligent. It’s not about what happened 10 years ago. It’s about considering what we have in front of us, and what is going on in contemporary scoring.”

More Film

  • DF-10956_R – Gwilym Lee (Brian May) and

    'Bohemian Rhapsody' Producer Confirms Bryan Singer's Reason for Leaving, Says 'No One' Was Attached to Play Mercury

    “Bohemian Rhapsody” producer Graham King provided insight into some of the events surrounding the Golden Globe-winning film Saturday at the Producers Guild Awards Nominees Breakfast, including director Bryan Singer’s departure from the film partway through production. “It’s an unfortunate situation, with like 16, 17 days to go and Bryan Singer just had some issues, his [...]

  • Author Tony Mendez arrives at the

    Tony Mendez, Former CIA Officer Depicted in 'Argo,' Dies at 78

    Tony Mendez, the former CIA technical operations officer who orchestrated the 1980 rescue of six American diplomats from Iran and who was portrayed by Ben Affleck in the Academy Award winning film “Argo,” has died. He was 78. Mendez’s book agent, Christy Fletcher, announced the news on Twitter Saturday morning. “Early this morning, Antonio (Tony) [...]

  • Glass Movie

    'Glass' to Rank in Top 3 MLK Debuts With $48 Million

    M. Night Shyamalan’s “Glass” is on its way to a solid debut with an estimated $48 million for the four-day Martin Luther King Jr. weekend. A sequel to 2000’s “Unbreakable” and 2017’s “Split,” the Universal superhero thriller should bring in around $41 million from 3,841 domestic locations over the Friday through Sunday period. The estimates are [...]

  • China's 'Three Adventures of Brooke' to

    China's 'Three Adventures of Brooke' to Hit French Theaters (EXCLUSIVE)

    Midnight Blur Films has signed a deal with French distributor Les Acacias to release Chinese arthouse drama “Three Adventures of Brooke” in France this year, the Chinese production company told Variety on Saturday. A release date has yet to be set for the film, which premiered at the Venice Film Festival and stars Chinese newcomer Xu Fangyi [...]

  • Noe Debre On His Directorial Debut,

    Top French Screenwriter Noe Debre Makes Directorial Debut, ‘The Seventh Continent’

    This last half-decade, few French screenwriters have run up such an illustrious list of co-write credits as Noé Debré. Thomas Bedigain’s writing partner on Jacques Audiard’s Cannes Palme d’Or winner “Deephan,” Debra co-penned Bedigain’s own debut, “The Cowboys,” “Racer and the Jailbird,” by Michael Roskam, and “Le Brio,” directed by Yvan Attal. He has now [...]

  • Julien Trauman Talks Survival-Thriller Short ‘At

    Julien Trauman on Survival-Thriller Short ‘At Dawn’

    France’s Julien Trauman has never been afraid to play with genre, and in his latest short, the MyFrenchFilmFestival participant “At Dawn,” he employs aspects of psychological thriller, survival, coming-of-age and fantasy filmmaking. “At Dawn” kicks off the night before when a group of teens, one about to leave town, are imbibing heavily around a beach-side [...]

  • ‘Flowers’ Director Baptiste Petit-Gats Interview

    Baptiste Petit-Gats: ‘Editing Taught Me How to Write for Film’

    France’s Baptiste Petit-Gats is an hyphenate that keeps himself plenty busy editing, photographing, writing and directing. The bulk of his editing gigs up until now have been in documentary film work, evident in the way he shot and edited his own short film, participating in the MyFrenchFilmFestival, “Flowers.” In the film, Petit-Gats tells the heartbreaking [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content