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Oscar for Best Musical Score


Terrence1
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Everyone knows that one of the Oscar categories is for Best Score. Being a musician, I always pay close attention to the nominees, and this continues to be one of my favorite categories. In the 1990's, there were actually two categories: Best Score for a Drama, and Best Score for a Musical or Comedy. Then, after three years, for some reason, they went back to the original plan of only one category. Now, I don't expect anyone to have a reason for this, but I do find it curious that it happened. Where is Robert Osborne when we need him?

 

Terrence.

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*"In the 1990's, there were actually two categories: Best Score for a Drama, and Best Score for a Musical or Comedy. Then, after three years, for some reason, they went back to the original plan of only one category."* - Terrence1

 

I had forgotten about that category existing in 1990s. But the music branch of the Academy was always a bit "schizophrenic" and hard to track. It looks as if it has the most "retired" categories of any area in the Awards.

 

From 1995 to 1999 the Academy did award a separate Oscar to the Best Score of a Comedy or Musical. I think the "serious" composers (Williams / Goldsmith / Bernstein, et.al.) were getting a bit miffed at losing the Original Score Oscar to the composers of the Disney musical films that were made in the 1990s. It appears these composers pushed for a separate category so that the score for *Schindler's List* wasn't competing against a film like *Beauty And The Beast*.

 

But the popularity (and quality) of the "new" animated musicals began to fade and with that, the need for a separate award became unnecessary. There may have also been a change to the rules so that the Original Score Award covered only compositions for films without songs featured in the motion picture. But that is a guess on my part.

 

Other "Musical Score" Oscars no longer awarded include "Best Score Adaption or Treatment" which covered music based on previously written material. This category covered non-original film musicals and scores like *The Sting* based on the compositions of Scott Joplin.

 

There is even an "Original Song Score" Award in the Academy's rule book. It hasn't been officially "retired" (like the "Adaption" category) but hasn't been awarded since 1984 when *Songwriter* and *The Muppet Takes Manhattan* competed, and lost, to *Purple Rain*. (Yes. Prince is an Oscar winner.)

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Academy_Award_for_Best_Original_Score

 

Kyle In Hollywood

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Kyle, thanks so much for your thoughts on this subject. You really taught me a lot. I didn't realize that this category had such a history! And Libradoll, the reason I mentioned Robert Osborne in my forum is that he is such an expert on the Oscars. He has written books on the subject, and some of his interviewees have said that he knows more about the Oscars than just about anyone.

 

Terrencve (also in Hollywood).

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You're welcome, Terrence.

 

And I want to add that the creation of the "Musical or Comedy Score" category solved "the problem" in a very awkward manner. Ideally, the Disney Animated Musicals with original scores should be nominated in the "Best Original Song Score" category. But there never were enough potential nominees to revive that specific category so the decision was to split "Musical and Comedy" films from "Dramatic" films.

 

Oddly, for the longest time, the Academy separated out "Musical" films into a separate category and lumped together "Dramatic and Comedy" films.

 

It seems the Music Branch of the Academy is still creating some strange new rules. There must be some reason only two compositions are nominated for "Best Song" this year. (I think I read that there is a preliminary review panel now that judges songs for nomination(s) as opposed to the Music Branch membership choosing the nominees by voting on all the songs submitted for consideration.)

 

Kyle In Hollywood

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I too, am a music lover. Of all kinds. And I pay closer attention to the ENTIRE score of a movie than just the main theme. This has been ever since a friend of mine turned me on to the music of Franz Waxman by having on an old movie he scored on the TV in another room, and we were able to pay attention to the music without the distraction of the action on the screen. (Hmmm...sounded a little Johnny Cochran there...) That was nearly 40 years ago. And since that time, I've been disappointed with the Oscar winning scores several times. Past AND present.

 

I never COULD figure out how, and WHY, Harold Arlen's magnificent work on *The Wizard of Oz* was beat out by the score for *Gone With The Wind*, a syrup oozing, melodramatic, over produced score if I ever heard one. Many years later, the Academy gave the nod to that silly pop tune "Take My Breath Away" over the much better written "Somewhere Out There", probably, I thought, because *Top Gun* was a more popular movie than the animated *An American Tale.*

 

 

Some of what I thought were great scores never even get consideration. One of the best scores to underline a film that I ever heard was David Morse's work on *Ocean's 11* (2001). Completely ignored. My favorite John William's scores, in SPITE of his usual "Star Wars" and "Indiana Jones' " bombasts was the work he did on *Arlington Road* , which was FAR uncharacteristic of what we were familiar with from him. And got ignored as well.

 

 

I long gave up trying to figure it out. So I hit the head when the category comes up on the broadcasts.

 

 

Sepiatone

 

 

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Sepiatone, it's true that sometimes the popularity of a theme song (such as "Born Free") makes some voters go ahead and vote for musical score for the same movie! I guess the same is true when it comes to acting. If a movie is very popular, the chances are much greater for an actor to be nominated than for a movie that didn't do much box office, regardless of how great the acting may be. I remember years ago some columnist said that it's a shame that "Madame X" didn't do better at the box office, because surely Lana Turner would have received a nomination.

That's Hollywood.

 

Terrence.

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