February 3, 2023

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John Williams, Son Lux among Oscar score nominees; There are no female composers

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Ninety-year-old John Williams received his 53rd nomination, and this morning’s Academy Awards nominations marked just the eighth time in Oscar history that a group of composers was nominated for an original score.

Yet, despite the presence of two women and three African-American composers on this year’s 15-film shortlist, none made the final five. So Chanda Dancy (“Devotion”) and Hildur Gunadottir (“Women Speak”) were left out, as were Michael Abel (“No”) and Terence Blanchard (“The Woman King”).

With his nomination for “The Fablemans,” the venerable Williams holds his record for most-nominated composer and most-nominated living person, scoring his 29th film in the past 50 years for director Steven Spielberg. He already has five Oscars, including three for Spielberg (“Jaws,” “ET” and “Schindler’s List”).

Son Lux’s nomination for “Everything Everywhere All at Once” is particularly interesting because the category rarely nominates films with multiple composers. In this case, the experimental band (Ryan Lott, Rafiq Bhatia, Ian Chang) was cited for the almost wall-to-wall music for the multiverse comedy-drama.

And two of the band members are people of color, so the music branch isn’t white, as it often has been in the past.

Of the seven previous nominated scores written by three or more composers, three have actually won: “Limelight” in 1972, “The Last Emperor” in 1987 and “Soul” in 2020. Son Lux founder Lott is also up for Best Song (“This Is the Life” from “Everything Everywhere”) with David Byrne, who was one of the Oscar winners for “The Last Emperor.”

Son Lux is the only newcomer in the Oscar race for the score. German composer Volker Bartelmann, a previous nominee (for “Lion”), was nominated for “All Quiet on the Western Front,” while Carter Burwell (twice for “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” and “Carol” nominated) has been nominated. List of “banshees of Inisharin”.

Justin Hurwitz, two-time winner for song and score for 2017’s “La La Land,” returns to the race with “Babylon,” his latest with “La La Land” director Damien Chazelle. He recently won a Golden Globe for his wild, in-your-face jazz score for the three-hour early Hollywood epic.

Another surprise this morning was the omission of French composer Alexandre Desplat, usually a branch favorite and whose music “Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio” was widely praised; He was prepared for both the song and the score and missed both.

Two of the season’s biggest box-office successes were the potential for their large-scale orchestral and choral works in this category, yet not cut: Simon Franglein’s “Avatar: The Way of Water” and Ludwig Göransson’s “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.” Goranson, however, is up for Best Song, as he co-wrote “Lift Me Up” from that film with director Ryan Coogler, Rihanna and Thames (and he already won for the original “Black Panther” score in 2019).

Guðnadóttir’s omission was a surprise as her score for “Tar” was disqualified by the branch, and as Hollywood’s current favorite (after her win for “Joker” in 2019), she is likely to be up for another 2022 score. The nominee was considered, “Woman Speaking.”

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