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 I know we're not supposed to do this, but...
• Posted by Edmund Meinerts <Send E-Mail>
• Date: Monday, February 28, 2011, at 2:49 a.m.
• IP Address:
• Now Playing: Off to play what should have won the Oscar: HTTYD


What follows is, I acknowledge, a complete waste of my time and will not change the Academy's voting tendencies one bit, and has probably already been said many times in the past. But I had to get this off my shoulders.

First of all, I didn't watch the Oscars. How the hell am I supposed to do that living in Germany, where they come on at 2 in the morning on a Sunday night? But I imagine that a clip was played from each Best Score nominee...I don't know what was played, but I'm guessing it was: one of the "Liberation" tracks from 127 Hours, "Dream is Collapsing" or "Mombasa" from Inception, "The Rehearsal" from The King's Speech, "Hand Covers Bruise" from The Social Network, and "This is Berk" or "Test Drive" from How to Train Your Dragon. Now, if I was completely uninitiated in the world of film music - as, I presume, most of the audience was - and was presented with those clips, I'd be highly bamboozled by TSN's win. You get a cool determined guitar piece from Rahman, some floor-shaking BAAAAWWWWWMMMs from Zimmer, uplifting playfulness from Desplat, infinitely energetic pure joy in orchestral form from Powell...and an incredibly sparse six-note piano theme over droning bass from Rez'n'Ross. And it's the six-note piano theme that wins? Seriously, I'm going to hunt down a clip of the Best Score ceremony and I'd be really surprised if there wasn't some confusion to be seen in the audience. All I know is that if I'd been there, I'd have booed until security threw me out.

Second point: Where's the continuity? You tossed True Grit and Black Swan off the eligibility list for being based on previously existing music. So why the hell didn't you do that to TSN? Not only is its most prominent piece probably the remix of "Hall of the Mountain King", it's also based on material from older Nine Inch Nails albums as far as I know. Maybe the Academy wasn't aware of that second fact...but what the hell, they should be. I really hate it when rules like that are made but only seem to apply to whomever the Academy feels it is convenient. Don't get me started on Zimmer and James Newton Howard's ineligibility for The Dark Knight, but two composing duos being nominated in the two years afterwards (Beltrami/Sanders for The Hurt Locker and now Rez'n'Ross). Some clearly fishy practice here.

Third point: Best Picture does not equal Best Score! This is possibly the most annoying of the Academy's tendencies with regards to the best score category. The truth is, lots of really good dramatic Oscarbait films usually feature unintrusive, low-key, unspectacular scores which translate to dull or even unpleasant album experiences. I'm not sure why that has to be the case, and people like Alexandre Desplat have proven that it doesn't - but it is. Doubly confusing is the fact that the Academy hasn't had issues handing other "minor" awards to lower-quality films, such as Best Makeup for The Wolfman or Best Art Direction for Alice in Wonderland. So how come the Best Score category has to be so slavishly tied to Best Picture? Four of this year's score nominees were attached to Best Picture nominees. Unsurprisingly, it's the single score that wasn't (HTTYD) that ought to have won - and even that was a Best Animated Feature nominee. The day that a really good score is nominated whose film was a total critical flop - The Last Airbender, say - is the day that these awards salvage themselves for me. But it ain't gonna happen, folks, the Academy is too damn political for that. In 2009, three of the five scores were tied to Best Picture noms, plus a Best Animated Feature nom for Fantastic Mr. Fox. The year before, it was also three Best Pictures and a fourth Best Animated Feature. 2007: two Best Pictures, one Best Animated. Need I go on?

Fourth point: The Social Network isn't even a good score in the film!! When I watched the movie for the first time a few weeks ago, I knew the score was an absolutely rubbish album but I was curious to see whether it actually did anything for its movie. It doesn't. Other than the first two tracks and the Hall of the Mountain King remix, I could barely hear it at all. This is possibly the sickest of the Academy's fallacies: they still believe that a score is only good if it is impossible to notice. I die a little inside whenever I hear anybody express the opinion that good scores don't draw attention to themselves. OF COURSE THEY DO! By that logic, Star Wars and Indiana Jones are automatically considered sh!tty scores because of the insane memorability of their themes, which is, politely put, one of the stupidest things anybody could ever say about movie music. The one momentin The Social Network where I felt the score was trying to summon up something that could be geneologically traced back into the Middle Ages and linked to emotion is at the beginning, where Mark is heading back to his dorm after the breakup. It's that six-note piano theme heard in "Hand Covers Bruise". We have a word for such music in German: Klimpern. It's what four-year-olds do sitting at the piano - and this was the most emotional bit of score in the entire film. Hats off if it was a clever allusion to the fact that Mark Zuckerberg's social skills are approximately those of a four-year-old...but I seriously doubt it. Despite an hour-plus album that feels a lot longer, there aren't a lot of notable score moments in The Social Network - either positive or negative. Compare that with How to Train Your Dragon, where I could easily name two incredible scenes that are a perfect merging of beautiful visuals with Powell's equally beautiful score: the "Forbidden Friendship" scene between Hiccup and Toothless, and the "Romantic Flight" sequence with Hiccup and Astrid riding Toothless. Stunning material - the most astonishing, emotionally perfect score/film sync in recent memory, those two scenes alone should have netted Powell the Oscar. Ever tried watching those scenes on mute? The magic drains out quicker than a flushed toilet. I bet that The Social Network, however, would have had the exact same impact if it hadn't used a score at all. Unintrusive doesn't equal effective. Get that into your head, Uncle Oscar.

That's pretty much all I can really say about the subject. The Social Network is my lowest-rated score of 2010 - I'd literally have rather seen the Oscar go to Djawadi's Clash of the Titans or Jablonsky's A Nightmare on Elm Street. And it won the Oscar.

The best way to look at it is to say that it isn't joining Doctor Zhivago, Star Wars, E.T. and Lord of the's joining Chariots of Fire, 'Round Midnight, Brokeback Mountain and Babel. This clearly isn't the Academy's first score fck-up and it won't be their last. All I know is that I will continue to be pissed at them, no matter how often I'm told that it doesn't matter, and if for some reason I'm ever nominated, I will boycott the sh!t out of these biased, political and piss-poor awards.

I'm off to irritate my neighbors with what SHOULD have won the Oscars: John Powell's stupendous How to Train Your Dragon. Maybe it'll purge the bad taste from my ears.


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