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Monday, February 9, 2009

Oscar Series: Best Original Score, Best Original Song

Welcome to the second annual Oscar Series! For the next two weeks, I will take an even closer look at most of the bigger categories. I still don't do all 24 categories. Maybe next year I'll try that feat. I also hope that some of these posts will help make your decisions with your Oscar pools (Click HERE to enter my contest).

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original score)
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Alexandre Desplat
Defiance, James Newton Howard
Milk, Danny Elfman
Slumdog Millionaire, A.R. Rahman
WALL-E, Thomas Newman

This category feels wrapped up right now. This looks to be Slumdog all the way. Though, I look at either Button or WALL-E as other strong options. All in all, I found this to be an average year with scores. None of them were that memorable. I'm having a hard time even remembering them now.

Button's score is done by Alexandre Desplat. This is his second nomination (2006 for The Queen). It's the most epic score of the bunch, which will definitely be to its advantage. Think Atonement last year. A win here Desplat will depend on how much love Button has. It feels like if there wasn't a Slumdog lovefest going on, then this would probably be the frontrunner.

James Newton Howard's score in Defiance is the film's only nomination. For Howard this is his eighth nomination. Oh, and he has gone 0/7 lifetime. This film has no traction and I haven't even seen it. Howard could get the sentimental vote, but I don't think it will be even close enough to become a factor.


Did you know Danny Elfman did Milk's score? I seriously didn't even know this until I saw the credits. It's nothing like his previous work. If I was a voter, that would make me want to vote for him even more. It shows range. Plus, Elfman is very well respected anyway. He has done some very recognizable scores especially with his collaborations with Tim Burton. This is his fourth nomination. Surprise, surprise, he is already 0/3. I'd like to see him win it, but this is not his year.

It's all about Slumdog and its composer A.R. Rahman, who is also nominated this year for both original songs from Slumdog. There's a good chance he may take home two Oscars. Nothing against Rahman, but I find it funny that he will be an Oscar winner before Howard, Eflman, and Thomas Newman. I wouldn't say it's a lock, but he is expected to win. A loss here could be a signal of Slumdog being in trouble later in the night. I don't see it.

The final nominee is Thomas Newman for his WALL-E score. This is his tenth nomination (including his nomination for song). Can you believe he is 0/8? He's my preference to win this. He probably though has a better chance at song. This film relies so much on its sound that WALL-E could make a strong argument for every sound award. There's just one problem: Slumdog.

Slumdog has been the frontrunner for this race for a while. I haven't heard anything to make me change this pick.

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original song)
"Down to Earth" from WALL-E, Music by Peter Gabriel and Thomas Newman; Lyric by Peter Gabriel
"Jai Ho" from Slumdog Millionaire, Music by A.R. Rahman; Lyric by Gulzar
"O Saya" from Slumdog Millionaire, Music by A.R. Rahman; Lyric by A.R. Rahman and Maya Arulpragasm

Where's Bruce? Oh yeah, that's right the Academy didn't nominate him. This category seemed like it would be extremely easy to predict, but when Bruce was left off all bets are now off. Also, this is the first time in a couple years that there are only three nominees. Some people are convinced Slumdog will take this with Jai Ho, but I'm not as convinced. This is easily one of the hardest categories to predict.

The only non Slumdog nominee in this category is "Down to Earth" from WALL-E. It's Peter Gabriel's first nomination. It's Thomas Newman's tenth (2 from this year). If you believe in the theory that Slumdog's songs may split the vote, then this is an attractive choice. The last two years (Enchanted and Dreamgirls) have had multiple nominations in this category and lost. After that the last multiple nominee was The Lion King (1994), which was nominated for four songs and managed to win.

I guess the thing to realize is that the split voting theory isn't that strong since it doesn't happen as much as people realize. Actually, there is a new rule now that states only two songs per film can be nominated.

Anyway, back to WALL-E I still like this song to win. I feel like Newman holds a lot of respect in the Academy and WALL-E is a much loved film.

"Jai Ho" is probably the stronger of the two Slumdog songs. Actually, Fox Searchlight is now advertising to voters to vote for this song rather than "O Saya". I think that is a little stupid, but smart at the same time. I think it's a bad idea to tell Oscar voters what to do. Though, I think Slumdog's camp is trying to avoid what has happened to Dreamgirls and Enchanted.

I think voters will also relate to this song more than "O Saya" as it plays at the end of the film with an Indian dance number. People are going to remember that much more than "O Saya"

Speaking of "O Saya", which would make M.I.A. an Oscar winner if the song were to win, is probably a better song. I like it better at least and would vote for this more than "Jai Ho". For this reason is why I think the voting could really split as people have different musical tastes, but want to give the Oscar to Slumdog. Of course, then the vote splits and their intention backfires.

I've somehow predicted this category correctly the last three years. How? I have no idea sometimes. Especially considering that "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp" and "I Need to Wake Up" were not favored win at all. I remember getting laughed at when I told a couple people at an Oscar party that Etheridge would win to. Well, guess who's laughing now. Bitch. Haha.

I'm picking "Down to Earth" right now, but I'm nervous about this category. Be sure to keep checking back with my Oscar updates as this category could change.


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