Wednesday, 20 January 2016

THE MERRY GO ROUND OF FILM SCORES AND THE OSCARS, No no they can't be cheating, surely?

As a child I would sit with my grandfather, the writer, film director and producer, Sidney Gilliat, he taught me to appreciate film scores. I loved the score for his film Endless Night which was written by Bernard Herrmann.
Today music scores are brilliant but similar. More variety is needed it occurs when you mix cultures up. The film world is not mixed up, everybody is a friend of a friend and  there is so much unrecognised talent out there. I go to smaller festivals where I see films that hardly get aired because they do not have big names attached. Perhaps Charlotte Rampling is right however when she says that "racial diversity is racist to white people?" Perhaps other cultures like performing more rather than creating music? No doubt about it, you have to be incredibly ambitious as well as talented to get ahead.

Nainita Desai
In England the  composer  Nainita Desai will no doubt go to Hollywood for an Oscar, last year she wrote a  BBC documentary musical called Mumbai High set and filmed in a school in India with children who had no prior knowledge of performing and music. It was  moving, it is up for a BAFTA. This is the diversity I am talking about.
Where are the  black composers, the Oriental composers etc?.  Since 1987 George Fenton and Jonas Gwangwa for Cry Freedom, no black composer has composed a score for a likely award winner. There was the Indian Film Slumdog Millionaire won in 2008 with its score by A.R Rahman. Here is the list. Of course black performers have won in the song department.  There is not enough diversity in the Film World generally. Women achieved considerable success this year with so many excellent scripts  Carol, The Danish Girl . Cate Blanchett and Alicia Vikander surely shine, yet behind the scenes, the statistics are shabby. The composers chosen this year are represented by mostly the same agent, however good he is, the unsaid tells you everything you need to know about Hollywood.


This year I am delighted that at last Ennio Morricone is nominated. Of course he has won so many awards but the Oscar is something special and any composer who spends his life in film will tell you that. It is not their raison d'ĂȘtre, rather the cherry on the cake So far he has only won it for "Life Achievement" not for any particular score. One thing we should remember is a quarter of the music was already written for a horror film called The Thing. Does that actually meet the requirements?.

Should John Williams win for the score of Star Wars that he has already won the first time round in 1978? That seems a little dull too.

I noticed that last year's Oscar winner,  Alexandre Desplat did not get any real recognition for his score for The Danish Girl, a film which left me speechless for three weeks when I saw it at The Venice Film Festival. If you watch the film properly it cannot fail to move you. Desplat got nominated in the Globes. The film is so topical now with Transgender patients, I can imagine it could have made the old Academy shudder as they are from another world. Gender is merging so for me The Danish Girl was bang up to date. Caitlin Jenner needs a little more support?

Last year  I appreciated Johan Johansson's mechanical ability but he copied phrasing from the Desplat score for The Imitation Game with very recognisable moments from  Kings Speech and Extremely loud and incredibly close, the reality was Desplat was nominated three times. But now Sicario? This time phrasing from Black Sabbath? The second number on the score is from Iron Man.  I mentioned this last year in my blog Music score crunch

I was happy to see Carter Burwell nominated for his score of Carol, I loved it, his score was so strong, I left the cinema singing the main theme. A wonderful film, beautiful costumes and strong story.
Thomas Newman's score is not his best but its very accomplished as he always is for Bridge of Spies, but not award worthy.
The Revenant, in my opinion, is one of the worst scores ever by three composers just did not work, composed by Japanese musician Ryuichi Sakamoto, Bryce Dessner and Alva Noto. It is too jumbled up. The film itself is excellent, except the riding ability of certain actors.


A few years ago we complained about women not having enough equality in show business generally, let alone racial diversity. It seems intelligent to employ well known composers as too much money is at stake to make errors,  but the other side is that it makes for ultimately boring perfection. In the Lebanese culture, perfection is not attractive, story telling is the most interesting thing. People respond to emotions not anything perfect, pure and clean.  Perhaps the education is lacking? The other problem is that the voters for the Academy are over 60 and male, giving opportunity to their friends, 94 percent are white, 76 percent men with an average of 63 years old, there will be bias.  Imagine the scenario, they are having lunch on a boat at The Ivy, they chatter.
Equally Blacks and Oriental writers could write more for black/Oriental performers, and give work to composers of their choice. It just takes an iPhone to start, and then send it off to The New Media Film Festival.. Come on Agents, Writers, Producers, Casting Directors, The Academy, have a little more imagination, let creativity grow, be daring and the world is full of magic.

No comments: