When the 84th Academy Awards nominations came out, movie music buffs were miffed that Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor and composer-producer Atticus Ross's throbbing music for "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" was left off the list.
Although it’s not much of a consolation, the duo – who did win the Best Original Score Oscar last year for their music for "The Social Network" – can take solace that they’re in the same company as our top five composers who suffered the same indignation.
1. Bernard Herrmann
The great composer Bernard Herrmann received five Academy Award nominations for his scores for "Citizen Kane" (which lost the Oscar to another his scores: "All That Money Can Buy") and "Taxi Driver," among others. He also won an Oscar, in 1941 for for "The Devil and Daniel Webster." Curiously, none of his Oscar nods came for his famous collaborations with Alfred Hitchcock. However, his work for "Psycho" and "Vertigo" was selected as numbers four and 12, respectively, on the American Film Institute list of top 25 scores ever written. (We assume that "North by Northwest" barely missed the cut).
2. David Raskin
David Raskin’s music for the 1944 Otto Preminger flick "Laura" was also listed in the AFI’s top 10, but was not honored by The Academy. This film noir investigation into the death of Laura Hunt launched the jazz standard of the same name. Charlie Parker, Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald and even Carly Simon have performed the tune.
3. Ennio Morricone
Ennio Morricone’s theme for Sergio Leone’s "The Good The Bad and The Ugly" evokes the tumbleweed strewn and desolate landscape associated with all Westerns, not only those of the spaghetti variety. Morricone’s collaborations with his Italian schoolmate Leone — including "A Fistful of Dollars" and "Once Upon a Time in the West" — earned him renown but no statuettes. He was later nominated for his work with Terrance Malick ("Days of Heaven"), Brian de Palma ("The Untouchables") and Barry Levinson ("Bugsy"), among others. And in 2007, he received an honorary Academy Award for career achievement.
4. Duke Ellington
Duke Ellington’s music has appeared in at least 138 movies according to his official Web site. But he only scored two films and neither was nominated. His best work came for another Otto Preminger film, "An Anatomy of a Murder," in which Duke has a cameo. Fans of the movie and of Ellington can rejoice that Criterion has just released a Blu-ray edition of the classic starring James Stewart and Lee Remick.
5. Jonny Greenwood
More recently, cinephiles and music fans were outraged when The Academy omitted Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood’s accompaniment to Paul Thomas Anderson’s 2007 film "There Will Be Blood." Critic Alex Ross wrote in The New Yorker, “It’s hard to think of a recent Hollywood production in which music plays such an active role.” Greenwood was ruled ineligible because the score contained too much preexisting music.