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INTERVIEWS

Pablo Larraín (Jackie)
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Entries in Original Score (51)

Wednesday
Jan112017

FYC: Jackie's Original Score by Mica Levi

by Sean Donovan

You sit down in a movie theater to see the latest biopic that has earned a superstar Oscar heat, and after the series of trailers for undoubtedly happier movies you could be seeing, you stare at a black screen. Gradually you hear something, a strong string note that quickly careens down the scale into dissonant whine. It’s immediately upsetting, destabilizing: flat and lacking grace when you were promised a classy portrait of one of America’s most iconic first ladies. So disjunctive it possesses a strange, ethereal beauty. It reminds me of the sound of an airplane flying overhead, fitting for a film where some of the most dramatic scenes occur onboard Air Force One. 

Music is the standard-bearer for everything that makes Jackie an unusual Oscar contender...

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Jan072017

FYC: Moonlight, Best Original Score

By Chris Feil

It's always ceaselessly frustrating to see deserving below-the-line work from so-called smaller films miss out on Oscar nominations. Even when a film is a favorite in the major categories, it can still be hard to break through beyond major races - just look at last year's Room. This year, Moonlight deserves those nominations for its behind-the-scenes craft, each of its elements too powerful and integral to deny. But for brevity's sake, I'll just call attention to its evocative score by Nicholas Britell.

Britell threads recurring melodies and tones through each of Chiron's chapters without feeling repetitive. As the piano theme comes in and out, it takes us back to the previous struggles that add weight to the fresh one, just as life is connected memory to memory. The sharp strings show the soaring relief of a moment like Juan teaching him to swim, but also reveal the anxiety of being seen for what he truly is, the fear of what that means.

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Nov192016

Oscar Trivia: "Arrival" and Best Original Score Eligibility

by Chris Feil

Like his Denis Villeneuve Sicario collaboration last year, Jóhann Jóhannsson's score for Arrival is powerful and one of the most memorable components of its film. One of the special aspects of Jóhannsson's work with Villeneuve is how his scores both embody and inform the thematic landscape of the film. The composer was Oscar nominated for his pulsing Sicario score and you can easily imagine him returning this year.

But before we guess too quickly, take stock of the moving final piece that plays over the film's finale because you may have heard it before. The gorgeous track, "On the Nature of Daylight", is actually by Max Richter and has been used in previous films like Shutter Island.

None of this is to discredit Jóhansson's terrifying and soulful work, but one wonders if such prominent and integral use of Richter's work could hurt the composer's nomination chances...

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Sep132016

"Jackie" Sells to Fox Searchlight. December Gets Yet More Crowded

The Oscar Race just got a lot more crowded.

Natalie Portman as "Jackie". Photo by William GrayWhile Natalie Portman may be enjoying the lion's share of buzz for playing the title character in Jackie (her best performance yet) if Fox Searchlight plays their FYC hand correctly the film could be a major player across the Oscar board (Portman and Sarsgard are the only acting possibillities. Greta Gerwig, Max Casella, John Carroll Lynch, John Hurt, and Beth Grant support them well but in extremely limited doses) including especially Costume Design, Director, Screenplay, and Production Design. The Cinematography, Editing, Sound and Original Score are also marvellous but the film is a little out of the box challenging so not everyone is going to respond to it; in its own caged bird way it's as angry as Pablo Larraín's Chilean pictures.

As expected given the festival raves and the film's connections to Darren Aronofsky, Fox Searchlight had first dibs. The deal took longer than expected but they will distribute on December 9th. That puts the film at the end of a flurry of major Oscar contenders opening between October and early December (Fences is the only possibly major player -- that is not a sci-fi/fantasy --  opening after Jackie. It opens Christmas day). 

Pablo Larraín and Natalie Portman in Venice for the premiereThe schedule right now of golden hopefuls:
Oct 7th -Birth of a Nation, The Girl on the Train
Oct 14th -Certain Women, Miss Hokusai (animated feature)
Oct 21st -Moonlight, The Handmaiden (if there were justice in the world but alas, South Korea didn't select it as their Oscar bid)
Oct 28th -Eagle Huntress (documentary)

Nov 4th -Loving, Doctor Strange, Bleed For This 
Nov 11th -Arrival, Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, Elle
Nov 18th -Manchester by the Sea, Nocturnal Animals, Fantastic Beasts
Nov 23rd (Wed) Allied, Moana (animated feature), Rules Don't Apply
Nov 25th - Lion

Dec 2nd - La La Land
Dec 9th - Jackie, Miss Sloane, The Salesman (Asgar Farhadi) 
Dec 16th - Rogue One, Collateral Beauty, The Founder, and Neruda (also by Pablo Larraín) 
Dec 21st (Wed) - Assassin's Creed, Passengers, Sing! (animated feature)
Dec 23rd - A Monster Calls
Dec 25th (Sun) - Fences, Toni Erdmann (foreign film submission)

Qualifying Releases: Hidden Figures, The Red Turtle, and ???

Tuesday
Feb232016

5 Days til Oscar. "5" being the Sacrosanct Number.

OSCAR VOTING CLOSES TODAY! CEREMONY THIS SUNDAY.

The Film Experience had quite a scare earlier this season when it was suggested that the Academy might change the number of nominees per category (ostensibly to promote diversity though it would send a terrible message of "now, you might be worthy with more slots. might not" We still don't know if they'll spring this ghastly proposition on us and whether it will ruin every chart and stat for the future. The varying number of nominees in Best Picture already makes for messy comparisons from year to year which used to be half the fun.

The sacrosanct number is 5 and it should not ever change. Any deviation from 5 feels blasphemous as in those years when Original Song or Short Films kept changing the number or the continued satanic tradition of denying the Makeup and Hairstylist branch two of their deserved nominations each year - the only category with 3.

So here's to five, the best number. Five forever. FIVE BY FIVE. Never change the number, Academy! Never.

Just for fun here are the 5 categories this year with the highest across-the-board quality

 

  1. Best Actress - All wonderful. And from mostly great films, too! 
  2. Original Score - When the worst nominee is __ you've got playlist heaven
  3. Adapted Screenplay - Mostly wonderful and filled with films about women: Brooklyn, Carol, Room. And the two most deserving screenplays are written by women, too: Phyllis Nagy & Emma Donoghue
  4. Cinematography - Don't quite understand what Robert Richardson is doing here again but he's no slouch in general and otherwise this is a list for the all time list of great lists in this particular category. 
  5. Visual Effects - It was a toss up for this fifth slot but it's worth including to point out that for once they didn't go "Most" and actually included two films with very convincing effects (Ex Machina & The Revenant) that would work without those visual effects, too. Worthy Best Supporting Visual Effects is a nice change of pace here.

5 of my favorite Oscar nominee interviews this season in case you missed any: Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl), Deniz Gamze Ergüven (Mustang), Phyllis Nagy (Carol), Sandy Powell (Carol), and Jack Fisk (The Revenant)