Handicapping the Oscars: Best Score

Tune at a special time: Sunday, Feb. 26, from 4-6 pm.

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Sunday, February 26, 2012

The veteran film composer John Williams leads the Academy Award contenders for Best Original Score with two nominations: for his work on "The Adventures of Tintin" and "War Horse." But he's up against some stiff competition in Howard Shore for "Hugo," Alberto Iglesias for "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" and Ludovic Bource for "The Artist." Each score finds a unique way of supporting and accentuating their respective films.

On this special two-hour Oscar edition of Movies on the Radio, which will air from 4-6 pm on Sunday, Feb. 26, we hear highlights from this year's best score nominees and discuss the artistry of film music.

Host David Garland is joined by special guest co-presenter Dana Stevens, the film critic from Slate.com. In addition to this year's nominees, David and Dana will offer Oscar-winning music of the past.

Program details:

Erich Wolfgang Korngold: "Adventures Of Robin Hood" (1938)
Main Title
The Warner Bros. Years
Turner Classic Movies Music Premier Soundtracks

Herbert Stothart: "The Wizard of Oz" (1939)
Cyclone (Extended Version)

Herrmann: "Devil and Daniel Webster" (1941)
Mr. Scratch: Allegro Moderato e Agitato
New Zealand Symphony Orchestra conducted by James Sedares.

Harold Arlen: "The Wizard of Oz" (1939)
If I Only Had A Brain (excerpt)

Max Steiner: "Now, Voyager" (1942)
Classic Film Scores: Now, Voyager
The National Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Charles Gerhardt - Sony Music

Howard Shore: "Hugo"
The Invention of Dreams

Miklos Rozsa: "Spellbound" (1945)
Ski Run/Mountain Lodge
Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra conducted by Allan Wilson
Intrada Excalibur Collection

Brian Easdale: "The Red Shoes" (1948)
Main Title
The Sound Track Factory

Franz Waxman: "Sunset Boulevard" (1950)
Main Title (Film Version With Effects)

Dimitri Tiomkin: "High Noon" (1952)
Two Minutes to Twelve
Screen Archives Entertainment

John Williams: "The Adventures of Tintin" (2011)
The Adventures of Tintin, The Adventure Continues
Sony Classical

Ernest Gold: "Exodus" (1960)
Approaching Haifa, The Oath
City of Prague Philharmonic Orch., conducted by Nic Raine

Henry Mancini: "Breakfast At Tiffany's" (1961)
Moon River (Vocal Audrey Hepburn)

Charlie Chaplin: "Limelight" (1972)
Ballet "Death of Columbine"

Jerry Goldsmith: "The Omen" (1976)
The Killer Storm
Varese Sarabande

John Williams: "Star Wars" (1977)
Main Title/Rebel Blockade Runner, Landspeeder Search/Attack of the Sand People

John Williams: "War Horse" (2011)
Remembering Emilie, and Finale
Sony Classical

Ludovic Bource: "The Artist" (2011)
George Valentin
Sony Classical

Bernard Herrmann: "Vertigo" (1958)
Scene d'Amour
the Royal Scottish National Orchestra conducted by Joel McNeely
Varese Sarabande

Ludovic Bource: "The Artist" (2011)
My suicide (dedicated 03.29.1967)
Sony Classical

Alberto Iglesias: "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" (2011)
Polyakov, Alleline And Bland On The Roof
Silva Screen

Trent Reznor & Attacus Ross: "The Social Network" (2010)
Every Night
Null Corporation

Howard Shore: "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring" (2001)
The Ring Goes South


Comments [6]

Irene Else from New Jersey

Why can't they just acknowledge that they are inspired by, or borrowed from some other work, as one score writer did at the Oscars few years back? After all, it's just a movie.

Feb. 26 2012 06:04 PM

I loved your show when you interviewed Alberto Iglesias. The music was the best part of Tinker.

Feb. 26 2012 05:59 PM
Tom C.

The score for "War Horse" is a perfect embodiment of the visuals on the screen. Williams is a master at conveying the perfect emotions for a director's scenes without overpowering the film narrative. I loved "War Horse" and think Speilberg should be a contender for "Best Director". People will be watching "War Horse" long after "The Artist" has been forgotten and 3D has lost its appeal.

Feb. 26 2012 05:57 PM
Zayne from New Jersey

John Williams is a film composer with a large body of work. However, quantity does not mean quality.

Only one work, in my qualified background of film music, stands out as much inspired, the score for the 1979 film "Dracula", and the other score are somewhat mediocre. Besides, there is a great deal of "lifting" and reworking thematic material from classical composers.

Listen to the "Jaws" music track of "One Barrel Chase " and compare it with Ralph Vaughan Williams "A London Symphony - III. Scherzo" or, better yet, play the Vaughan Williams and view the barrel chase sequence from "Jaws" with the sound off.

Does "Star Wars" music sound something like Holst and Stravinsky? It sure does.

I could list many, many more examples "lifted" knowingly or subconsciously from classical compositions.

Is John Williams the first to "lift" music from others? No. But he has done so much more than others.

Take, for example, Miklos Rozsa's score for "Quo Vadis". His "Quo Vadis Domine?" (from Capitol album number ST-2837 "Miklos Rozsa conducts His Great Themes from Ben-Hur, El Cid, Quo Vadis and King of Kings reissued on Angel records) and Ottorino Respighi's "I pini della Via Appia" from "Pines of Rome". Now that’s a powerful piece of “lifting” or borrowing inspiration.

Feb. 26 2012 05:30 PM
Thom from New York

WAR HORSE is by far and away my top choice. It seems ironic that the Academy will vote to give the music score award to THE ARTIST when the music used for the most critical and moving part of the film is music from Bernard Herrmann's score for VERTIGO. There is a difference between using classical music for underscoring and using music from a previous and well known film. Last year's THE KING'S SPEECH made excellent use of Beethovin's 7th Symphony. We have no prior film to associate with that music. However, with THE ARTIST, we do have a classic film (VERTIGO) to associate with the Herrmann music, and some of us, when we hear this music, remember fondly very specific images from the film and the actors in the film (Kim Novak and James Stewart). The first time I saw THE ARTIST and this major scene scene toward the end of the film with the Herrmann music, I was taken out of THE ARTIST by the music. I did see the film again, and, being more prepared this time, could look at this scene a little differently, and begin to see why the director favored the Herrmann music over the music of his composer. The Herrmann music is superior to the score Ludovic Bource wrote for the scene, and it is interesting to see the Herrmann music work effectively for another film. You can hear the Bource music for this scene, "My Suicide," on THE ARTIST soundtrack. That being said, Bernard Herrmann would never have allowed this to happen. How times have changed. In 1942, when THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS was taken away from Orson Welles and the ending of the film was rescored, Bernard Herrmann refused to allow his name be be on the credits. Tonight, it is quite likely that Ludovic Bource, should he win, will not even mention Bernard Herrmann's name despite the fact that the public's ultimte emotional responce to this film actually hinge's on the use of Bernard Herrmann's music from VERTIGO. Supported by the Herrmann music, we actually discover that we truly care about George Valentin.

Feb. 26 2012 10:43 AM
John from Florida

I'm really looking forward to the Oscar program on Sunday and hearing the Oscar-nominated scores. My personal favorite score is "War Horse", and I would be thrilled if it won the award.

I recently read an article by Dana where she briefly mentions that "The Artist" should not win for Best Original Score because it used some of Bernard Herrmann's music from "Vertigo". I would like to hear your thoughts on films repurposing older music. My view is that this is a minor infraction that doesn't diminish the achievement of "The Artist", however in principle I agree with Dana that a film which used existing music should not win an award for ORIGINAL score.

Also to David & Dana: what was your favorite score from 2011 which was not nominated?

Here is Dana's article which I referenced above: http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/the_oscars/features/2012/oscars_2012_awards/the_oscars_the_only_thing_to_hate_about_the_artist_is_how_likeable_it_is_.html

Feb. 23 2012 06:03 PM

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