Monday, February 23, 2009

Oscar Analysis (Another Music Tragedy)

So, the Oscars have come and gone again.  I'm glad to see that the ceremony has gone back to being a "show" instead of an assembly to hand out awards.  Hugh Jackman was a refreshing surprise and his numbers definitely struck with me.  The little skit with James Franco & Seth Rogan was great as was Ben Stiller dressed as Joaquin Phoenix.  So as a show it was a success.
Let's get to the nitty gritty.  The awards.  Any surprises? Not really.  In fact I have constantly been dissapointed in the recent years with the lack of competition at the Oscars.  Is that saying something about the quality of movies being put out?  I don't know, but there isn't any surprises anymore in terms of winning.
Now, to get to what I really want to talk about; the music.  Let start off by saying that I hate the Music Branch at The Academy.  There are so many flaws with their system that I won't go into them.  What I hate most is the fact that The Academy sets up rules but breaks them whenever they want.  They broke their rules when Babel won an Oscar for Best Score and later admitted that they didn't realize it would have been disqualified from contention if  the proper research had been done.  This year they disqualified The Dark Knight only to reinstate its eligibility after an uproar from the public.  They also allowed 4 producers to get nominated for The Reader, which is a violation of the rules.
A.R. Rahman walked away with two Oscars last night.  He currently has more Oscars than Ennio Morricone (0 for score 1 lifetime achievement), Hans Zimmer (1), Jerry Goldsmith (1), Danny Elfman (0), Thomas Newman (0), Bernard Herrmann (1), Elmer Bernstein (1).  Does anyone else see anything wrong?  As much as I loved Slumdog Millionaire this is the biggest Oscar Music Tragedy since Gustavo Santaolalla illegally winning back to back Oscars a few years back.  Slumdog had almost no score in the film yet got nominated.  A.R. Rahman worked with countless amounts of other artists on the music (something I don't care about but the Academy disqualifies for), and the score is all synth (again, don't mind but the Academy frowns on).  He also got nominated for a song that repeats two words over and over to a techno loop and as amazing as that scene was in the film the song itself doesn't represent the heart of the film like Bruce Springsteen's The Wrestler or Clint Eastwood's Gran Torino.  Those songs got snubbed because of the flawed voting system.
So, again another undeserving score wins the Oscar when the deserving Alexandre Desplat walks away empty handed.  Another year goes by where The Academy shows that all you have to do is win the popularity contest at the time to get a handful of Oscars.  It also shows that the number of Oscars or nominations is in no way a measure of how good of an artist you are like The Academy wants people to believe.  If that were true  then A.R. Rahman and Gustavo Santaolalla would only need 1 more Oscar to be "as good" as Max Steiner.  Again, I loved Rahman's work on Slumdog and his win for "Jai Ho" was well deserved, but after the hoopla of Babel and the recent damning of Hans Zimmer and fellow composers by The Academy it only shows just exactly how little authority the Academy Music Branch has.  Grammy's gave it to The Dark Knight, IFMCA gave it to The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button just to point it out.  Slumdog Millionaire's score was not bad it just didn't deserve to win.

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