Soundtracking is a regular column that appears on Cineplex.com looking at the music featured in the biggest new releases both in theatre and on home video. Shane McNeil looks at the music nominees for the 87th Academy Awards.

Originally published on Cineplex.com – January 15, 2015.

Thursday morning provided its share of surprises and snubs, but the Academy’s musical branch took a pretty clear anti-star stance in the Best Song category.

One year after the likes of U2, Pharrell Williams and Arcade Fire dominated the music categories, Oscar’s Best Song voters left big names like Lorde, Lana Del Rey and Patti Smith out of contention.

The biggest names in Best Song, instead, come from Selma’s entry into the category: “Glory” performed by John Legend and Common. Because the Academy enjoys formality the pair’s given names – John Stephens (Legend) and Lonnie Lynn (Common) – can now be added to the collective trivia file.

The song was one of just a pair of nominations for the historical drama, but having just won the Golden Globe in the same category, it begins the race as the front-runner.

The rest of the song entries run the gamut, from animated entries, documentary features to a pair of movies about singers struggling to make it.

The year’s ultimate ear-worm – “Everything is Awesome” from The Lego Movie – managed a nomination despite the fact that the film was shut out from the Best Animated Feature category. The lone nomination for the song is credited to Shawn Patterson, but its inclusion might give hope that performers The Lonely Island and Tegan and Sara might make their way into the Oscar broadcast.

“Lost Stars” from the musical drama Begin Again is another interesting entry in Best Song, since the nomination officially goes to Gregg Alexander and Danielle Brisebois, both former members of 1990s one-hit wonders The New Radicals. The version from the film itself is sung by Best Supporting Actress nominee (for The Imitation Game) Keira Knightley, but it was also popped-up for the soundtrack courtesy of Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine.

Have a listen to Knightley’s version, though:

Rounding out the category are a pair of power ballads.

Rita Ora’s “Grateful” from Beyond the Lights earned songwriter Diane Warren a seventh career nomination. If that name doesn’t ring any bells, she’s the brains behind previous Best Song entries by Aerosmith and Celine Dion.

Meanwhile, Glen Campbell earned a nod for his song “I’m Not Gonna Miss You” from the documentary Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me. The film focused on the Country Music Hall of Famer’s farewell tour as he struggled with Alzheimer’s Disease.

When it came to the Best Score category, the star candidates were also left off the final ballot.

Trent Reznor, The Nine Inch Nails frontman, did not earn a nomination alongside his partner Atticus Ross for their atmospheric Gone Girl score. The pair fell victim to a disastrous day for the David Fincher film, which earned just one total nomination.

Instead, Alexandre Desplat continued to prove one of the Academy’s favourite composers in recent years, at least as far as nominations are concerned. His nods for both The Imitation Game and The Grand Budapest Hotel give him a total of eight nominations over the last nine years including Argo and Fantastic Mr. Fox, amongst others. Unfortunately for Desplat, he is still without a trophy. Should he fall short again, it would place him second amongst living composers for most nominations without an Oscar behind only Thomas Newman’s 11 (whose cousin Randy also has eight score nominations, but two Best Song Oscars).

Also in the mix is Golden Globe Best Score-winner Johann Johannsson and his work on The Theory of Everything. Best known for electronic-classical works, the Icelandic composer has 11 solo albums under his belt and was previously a member of Apparat Organ Quartet.

Additional score nominees included industry vet Hans Zimmer earning his 10th career nod for Interstellar and a surprise mention for Mr. Turner composer Gary Yershon, who earned his first career nomination.

One score that might have been a contender for the prize was taken out of the running before voting could even get underway. Antonio Sanchez’s jazz score for Birdman was deemed ineligible by the Academy in mid-December for its use of previously recorded classical works. The feverish drums were one of the signatures of Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s film – along with those epic takes – and earned a Golden Globe nomination in the score category but it was ruled out.

Let’s give it a listen and dream of what could have been.

Advertisements