December 20, 2010


Bad news if you’re a Clint Mansell fan. The composer’s exceptional work for Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan has been deemed ineligible for Oscar consideration due to its usage of music from Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake. While not exactly a surprise, it’s still a shame considering the score’s unique, even complicated structure.

According to Variety, Carter Burwell’s scores for True Grit and The Kids Are All Right (which he composed alongside Nathan Larson and Craig Wedren) and Michael Brook’s work on The Fighter have also been disqualified. Alexandre Desplat’s score for The King’s Speech, however, which recently received a Golden Globe-nomination, has been deemed eligible despite its usage of classical works. Hit the jump for more.

For some the BIG moment of the Oscars is typically reserved for the bit where the winner of Best Picture of the year is announced. For me it’s always been the winner of Best Motion Picture Score. As a devout film score lover, I’m always intrigued to see what the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences deems the Best Score of the year – mainly because, having not always gotten around to seeing every nominated film each year, it’s a good place to hear the music for the first time.Inception-movie-poster

This year sees our tightest race in a long time, what with Desplat’s aforementioned work on The King’s Speech (personally I thought his work on Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part One and Ghost Writer was better, but that’s just me …), Hans Zimmer’s Inception, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’ The Social Network, and the better-be-nominated-or-I’ll-eat-a-bucket-of-sand How to Train Your Dragon score from John Powell.

I thought for sure Mansell would receive a nod for Black Swan – the score really is quite terrific. While he does utilize a large amount of Tchaikovsky’s work, I felt Mansell’s score rose above a typical rehashing and became its own beast – much in the same way Zimmer tweeked Edith Piaf’s “Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien” to formulate his own score for Inception.

Still, despite Mansell’s absence, this year is shaping up to be a dandy for soundtrack enthusiasts. Others to consider are James Newton Howard’s work on The Last Airbender and Daft Punk’s Tron Legacy. I should also mention how much I dug Fernando Velazquez’s Devil score (if you haven’t heard it, be sure to check it out).

With so many great ones to choose from, here’s hoping my BIG-Oscar moment doesn’t disappoint.

  • Mike

    Isn’t the film Black Swan using the basic premise of Swan Lake for it’s plot? Isn’t that the same thing, or close enough, yet Black Swan could get nominated as a film?

    So music is strict black-and-white, but script is flexible? Do they have to include an “Adapted Score” category?

    This seems absurd.

  • Victor

    If the Academy still had a category for Adaptation Score (Leonard Rosenman won both his Oscars for that), it might be different.

  • MikeIsBored

    I’m surprised “The Social Network” (which includes a redone version of “Hall of the Mountain King”) and “TRON: Legacy” (which has elements of the original Wendy Carlos theme) are eligible. Not that both aren’t 100% deserving of nominations as among the best in this year’s field.

    • Oneill5491

      Yeah. The score to “The Social Network” totally should have been DQed for obvious use of existing material. Regardless, the score just isn’t memorable enough (which is a direct result of it being ridiculously simple and almost 100% computerized) to be nominated for an Oscar. I really don’t find it enjoyable to listen to as a standalone OST either unlike all the other mentions and especially John Powell’s HTTYD score.

  • christophercantos

    i’m saddened by this news. it’s TDK all over again. although i’m surprise, and happy, that the Academy didn’t disqualified Hans Zimmer this time.

    it will be still a tough year this year to predict who’ll win, even if Clint Mansell and Carter Burwell’s score are disqualified. how do you pick out of the much lauded score this year.

    Edgar Wright put it simply, INCEPTION is the music of the year. the “BRRRRRRRRRRMMMMMM” is the most remembered MUSIC in movies this year. do you pick that one out because it makes a memorable score out of all the competetion.

    how about a score that doesn’t necessarily engrosses you while listening to it alone, but then you watch it with the movie and it has this impact that clearly makes it the best score of 2010. i’m talking about Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross score for THE SOCIAL NETWORK.

    and i would even argue to people that the best score to listen to this year is Daft Punk’s TRON LEGACY score. most of the time, i felt that the visuals was just catching up to Daft Punk’s super cool score of the year(a different approach of what Chris Nolan does in his movie).

    and Alexandre Desplat gives a unique and memorable score to one of my favorite films of the year. The Ghost Writer made me look up Polanski’s old films because of how humorous it is, and how uniquely it incorporate humor to its thriller genre without ever being silly or a comedy.

  • Excpired

    So a film will be disqualified for adapting music from another movie but it won’t be disqualified for using classical music. Aww, doesn’t this show the bias that is the Oscars; they love to give the award to classical-themed scores.

    I don’t care that much though to be honest; the only movie this year that I was blown away by the score was Scott Pilgrim, which should definitely get nominated, but it won’t.

  • Jason

    I thinks Randy Newmans Score for Toy Story 3 should be at least nominated! His score really helps the mood for the film in a AMAZING way!

  • fred

    HTTYD is by far the best score I’ve heard in a long time! It had better win one for Powell. They’ll probably pick Social Network though, since that’s been winning everything. It’s just a bunch of electronic bleeps and bloops though, not memorable at all unless you go to a rave party.

  • Shit lake

    Saw Black Swan last night. I really want to bash it, because I didnt like it. But, lets just say that it was not a film meant for my eyes. Nor many other peoples eyes. I cant deny the great acting and direction, but the marketing for this film kinda makes it seem like it will appeal to most.

    Truth is, its a ballet film about ballet. I think if they called the film Swan Lake, the movie. Most wouldnt go see it. But its kinda marketed as something else.

    Gonna be a LOT of pissed off fellas out there. And Portman was great at ballet dancing, but sexy she was NOT! Skeletal sprang to mind. Still, seeing her and Mila Kunis get all licky licky was a treat.

    The MUSIC, actually pissed me off too. It was a horrible score. But no other score would have fit the movie.

  • chlupis

    Where can i check Devil score out?

    • Jeff Ames

      I don’t know if they released a soundtrack – you have to check out the movie to hear it … Very reminiscent of Bernard Herman with a touch of Zimmer. Pretty cool actually.

      Hopefully they’ll release a bootleg!

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  • gimpsuit

    What a bunch of shit.
    It’s ‘best original score’. So if a piece of classical music plays in a film the rest of the orginal work is dismissed?
    What a joke.
    Hans Zimmer should be out too then.
    And you CAN’T give an oscar to a film score because of one chord (inception). Yes it’s memorable but jesus, what a joke… But a joke is pretty much what the Oscars is now.

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  • Ben

    I’ve not seen it, but I just know Clint mansell’s score will be mind-blowing for Black Swan. This is actually quite distressing news…

  • Twilidiot

    The Academy’s rules show a clear misunderstanding of what constitutes “original.” Composers borrow themes all the time but what they do with them is quite original. Any sequel score will of course use themes from previous films. The term “original” should probably just go by the wayside and we can’t just have a best score category. It’s all lame politics, anyway. Sorry, Jeff. If I a film wasn’t popular with the over-50 crowd, it’s not going to get nominated. Or if it involves pirates, wizards, vampires … or dragons.

  • Oneill5491

    You better get that bucket of sand ready because I can almost guarantee you that John Powell is gonna get snubbed at the Oscars – even though I think his score for HTTYD is good enough FTW.

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  • Oneill5491

    Well I guess you can put that bucket of sand down. POWELL FOR THE OSCAR!