Each year the list of eligible ORIGINAL SONGS that will vy for Oscar nominations holds numerous surprises. These surprises almost invariably fall under the question heading:
That movie had a song in it?"
Apart from song showcases that are an important part of the narrative - remember that sweet tense reunion between Hiccup's father and mother in How To Train your Dragon 2? - many songs are buried in their movies by way of incomplete airings or end credit positioning when people are exiting the theater -- you have to be the first music in the end credits to be eligible at all. Come second and you're outta there as Madonna learned the hard way for her end credits "Masterpiece" in W.E. (that's the name of the song, not a qualitative judgement). The other annual head-scratcher question about this category is not the mean-spirited "Why does it exist?" but the far less frequently asked "Why is it afforded more nominees than the Makeup & Hairstyling category since literally all live action films require makeup & hairstyling and only a teeny-tiny portion of films have a composer on their payroll writing original songs. Indeed that question is only ever asked by The Film Experience though we think it a good one.
Makeup & Hairstyling is now the only Oscar category still considered unworthy of 5 nominations annually despite being a craft that's used in 100% of live-action movies which a few other categories cannot claim. But that's a topic for when the Makeup Branch finalist list is announced. Why am I talking about it now? My brain, inside a head that requires no hairstyling, hops track is all. Sorry bout it.
The annual list of eligible Original Scores for Oscar's music branch to consider holds a different kind of surprise altogether. Those surprises are about what's not listed. They fall under the question heading:
They disqualified that one? Why???"
This year apparently the music for Foxcatcher and The Two Faces of January -- to name two examples from famous composers (Danna & Iglesias respectively) -- wasn't "original" enough or something for Oscar. But the headline snub is Antonio Sanchez's work on Birdman. It's won much (rightful) attention for its unique percussive approach.
With Birdman out of the way, expect the five nominees to be: Alexandre Desplat (Unbroken), Alexandre Desplat (The Imitation Game) Alexandre Desplat (Godzilla) Alexandre Desplat (Grand Budapest Hotel) and Alexandre Desplat (The Monuments Men). I'm joking but there is no rule against it in the craft categories! You know if John Williams wrote five new scores in a year he'd win all five nominations. Somebody give Desplat a sedative before he burns himself out. He's so brilliant but do you think he'll stop working himself into an early grave once they give him the statue? He's won six nominations in the past decade, most of them from Best Pictures nominees or winners no less, but he has still yet to win the gold.
ELIGIBILITY LISTS AND A FEW MORE NOTES AFTER DESPLAT...