Can composer Alexandre Desplat win a second Academy Award (for The Shape of Water), just three years after his first? Statistically, the odds are against it. But then Desplat has beaten the odds before, winning for The Grand Budapest Hotel the same year he was nominated for another film (The Imitation Game). Yet don’t count out Jonny Greenwood for Phantom Thread or even Carter Burwell for Three Billboards. Here is a look at some fascinating and relevant statistics from the last 25 years of Oscar wins in the original-score category.
My final two Variety stories for this Oscar season not only recap the nominees but look at the races in historical terms. Four of the five nominees in each music category (song and score) are first-timers to the competition. And in the score category, most of the composers didn’t go the traditional route of simply recording live musicians — they added electronics, processed and modified the score, or otherwise used avant-garde recording or post-production techniques. It’s a big change from the old days of Steiner, Korngold and the classic Hollywood sound. And for the song story, I investigated what Academy voters consider when voting. What is a “best song,” anyway?
Every year at this time I get together with Classical KUSC host Brian Lauritzen to talk about the Oscar nominees in the Original Score category. We play excerpts from all five and talk about both the nature of each score and its odds of winning (hint: three of the five nominees have a strong shot!). Lauritzen inevitably poses interesting and sometimes provocative questions, and it’s always fun. This year the segment will air on the classical station’s Arts Alive magazine on Feb. 13. Tune in — or listen anytime here at www.kusc.org.