By Noah Sunshine || Senior Staff Writer
Movies we see would be awkward spectacles without the genius and labor that goes into their score—it is in fact the oldest and most universal component of filmmaking, dating back to live orchestras playing over silent films in brick-and-mortar theaters. In 2015, the importance of score has been cut back dramatically, falling somewhere around tenth on the list of awards typically ordered by interest: just after foreign films and immediately preceding make-up. The list is short, containing five entries (including two from the same composer), but several of the films would not be up for best picture without the thankless support of genius original scores.
Alexandre Desplat is nominated for both The Grand Budapest Hotel, the vibrant and surreal Wes Anderson blockbuster, and The Imitation Game, the darkly inspirational Alan Turing biopic by Morten Tyldum. Desplat has a one-win track record with the Golden Globes (for 2006’s The Painted Veil), but has lost all 7 of his Oscar nominations the last 8 years with films like Argo, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and The Queen. Now, nominated for two films in the running for Best Picture, he may stand more of a chance than previous years.
Desplat’s stiffest competition may come from Theory of Everything composer Johann Johannsson, who won the Golden Globe earlier this year for the same film. His first consideration for both awards, the younger Icelandic composer also worked on Foxcatcher, an Oscar favorite in several categories this year, in a smaller capacity.
Hans Zimmer, a much more household name, is in the running for his work on Interstellar. His only Oscar win was for The Lion King in 1995, but has been nominated several times over the years for films like Inception and Gladiator. Zimmer, while not being a favorite for any of the major awards, is perhaps one of the most prolific composers in the industry, writing the score for over 150 films and shows since the eighties.
Rounding out the category is Gary Yershon for Mr. Turner, another biopic that’s gotten less notoriety than the other contenders. His first Oscar appearance, Yershon has been in the business for thirty years but has only contributed to a handful of films; if there were an underdog in this category, it would most certainly be him. Taking this Academy Award would be his first award in his entire career.
Fire up your computer, go to YouTube, and throw on a few movie trailers from this year’s Oscar Nominees. Switch to a different tab, forget about the visuals, and listen to the music. People have made careers out of this music, imbuing intricacies and complexities in sound and mood that go completely unnoticed but offer a critical foundation for any of the high profile films in history.
Noah Sunshine is a senior staff writer. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.