PART 1: THE MUSIC AND SOUND CATEGORIES
This hostless and apparently commercial-hampered and time-constrained 91st Academy Awards arrive on Sunday, February 25th. It’s time to breakdown each category and put some stone cold predictions into digital ink. Throughout the busy awards season, this website’s 2019 Awards Tracker has been my workspace to tally all the early award winners. That prognostication data is cited in these predictions. This column examines the music and sound categories of score, score, sound mixing, and sound editing. As I say every year, stick with me and I will win you your Oscar pool!
BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
The nominees: Terence Blanchard for BlacKkKlansman, Ludwig Goransson for Black Panther, Nicholas Britell for If Beale Street Could Talk, Alexandre Desplat for Isle of Dogs, Marc Shaiman for Mary Poppins Returns
AWARDS TRACKER DATA: 11- Britell, 7- Justin Hurwitz for First Man, 2- Thom Yorke for Suspiria, and seven others tied with one win
Who was snubbed: Without question, Justin Hurwitz’s First Man score deserves to be here. Many, including myself, feel it should be the outright winner. It’s gorgeous work that fills both the grand suspense and quiet introspection of Damien Chazelle’s film with rapture.
Happy to be there: That Marc Shaiman nomination for Mary Poppins Returns feels and looks like a Disney homer pick for ABC primetime. This is Shaiman’s seventh Oscar nomination and first since, get this for a tonal opposite, 1999’s South Park: Bigger, Longer, & Uncut.
Who should win: I adore the film and score that I think “will” win, but I think honoring Ludwig Goransson ethnic infusion of a Black Panther score would be a nice win for the film and for the excellent music that often goes unrewarded from comic book movies.
Who will win: Goransson could indeed win, but the jazzy score of Nicholas Britell for If Beale Street Could Talk has shown the most success in this category through the awards season. With Hurwitz not even in the race, this makes Britell the betting favorite and a much-deserved winner.
BEST ORIGINAL SONG
The nominees: “All the Stars” by Kendrick Lamar for Black Panther, “I’ll Fight” by Diane Warren and Jennifer Hudson for RBG, “The Place Where the Lost Things Go” by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman for Mary Poppins Returns, “Shallow” by Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga for A Star is Born, “When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs For Wings” by David Rawlings and Gillian Welch for The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
AWARDS TRACKER DATA: 9- “Shallow,” 1- “All the Stars,” 1- “Suspirium “ by Thom Yorke for Suspiria
Who was snubbed: Followers of my page know the written love I’ve typographically sung about Hearts Beat Loud. Unfortunately, and you will see this trend throughout all of the award categories this year, a huge cross-section or class of American independent films were mostly ignored. The three main songs from Hearts Beat Loud all would have been outstanding nominees.
Happy to be there: Everything not named A Star is Born should feel lucky for even being noticed versus the popular Warner Bros. hit. If the studio wanted to, Bradley Cooper’s film could have swept all five of these spots.
Who should win and will win: I will always favor an original song that is key to the plot and not just a packaged hit that plays in the credits. You can’t get a more key or essential song in its matching film this year than “Shallow” from A Star is Born. Its win is automatic against this minuscule field. Nothing else has a pulse even close.
BEST SOUND EDITING
The nominees: Black Panther, Bohemian Rhapsody, First Man, A Quiet Place, Roma
AWARDS TRACKER DATA: 2- A Quiet Place
Who was snubbed: I’d love to see some true horror (A Quiet Place is mild there) get love in these atmospheric categories. Hereditary would have been a keen choice and something bonkers like Mandy would have been even better.
Happy to be there: After being ignored in all of the major categories, this is the one place where A Quiet Place gets its name mentioned. In contrast to the bombast elsewhere, it purposefully did the most with the least in this category
Who should win and will win: Speaking of another under-nominated film, First Man deserved better than simply attention in the few technical areas it was recognized. It’s best feature was its sound, where ever rattle and shimmy shook audience nerves. Watch out for Bohemian Rhapsody, but this is where the superior technical film actually wins.
BEST SOUND MIXING
The nominees: Black Panther, Bohemian Rhapsody, First Man, Roma, A Star is Born
AWARDS TRACKER DATA: 2- A Quiet Place
Who was snubbed: Let it be said again that A Quiet Place deserved better and more attention. I also think animated films get the cold shoulder in this category when they shouldn’t. The soundscapes of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse or Incredibles 2 would be better nominees.
Happy to be there: Though its score-less use of only amplified ambient sound is tremendous, this was a stat-padding nomination for Roma. It deserves to be a finalist, but it likely has the least chance of winning.
Who should win: To match the Sound Editing category, the superior audio film of the five is First Man. I know I’ve screwed up predictions before where I’ll miss the flip-flop of Editing and Mixing winners. I’m tempted to hedge my bets and go with the Neil Armstrong film for both, but I’ll dare to diverge.
Who will win: I think this is a place where Bohemian Rhapsody sneaks an artistic/technical win. The Queen biopic won the Best Sound Mixing industry award this past week from the Cinema Audio Society. That’s enough for me to check its box for Sunday.
NEXT: THE MINOR FILM CATEGORIES
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