Oscars 2019: Academy Award Winning Original Film Scores
A good soundtrack can make a film - and a great score can win Oscars. Music plays a starring role in modern cinema, so it’s no surprise Best Original Score is one of the most competitive categories. And with the 91st Academy Awards rolling out the red carpet this week, we’re looking behind the scenes to see what makes an award-winning composition.
Winner 1976 - Jaws
Jaws has one of Hollywood’s most recognisable themes, and quite rightly won Original Score at the Oscars in ‘76. Striking fear in to swarms of movie goers, no other movie score builds tension more effectively than those two notes. Used selectively throughout the production as the shark moves in closer, safe and peaceful scenes quickly become nerve-racking with a simple duunnn dunnn… Combined with the shark’s limited screen time, the theme became the audible fear of the unknown. Unbelievably, the theme almost didn’t make the final cut - it was only on Stephen Spielberg’s third listen that he believed John Williams was being serious. “That’s funny, John, really. But what did you really have in mind for the theme of ‘Jaws?’”
Winner 2011 - The Social Network
In light of recent social media headlines, the older this score gets the more suitable it seems to be. The uneasy, eerie soundtrack of unstructured minimal piano, aggressive industrial tones and digital beeps and buzzes was written by rock musicians Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. The main theme, “Hand Covers Bruise”, which has a clear piano melody, becomes increasingly distorted and synthetic as it continues throughout the film. Originally meant to be a light-hearted and 80s-inspired pop affair, the score thankfully went down the award-winning route that we can listen to today. The music not only draws from the growing contention between the characters, but also the advent of the unknown, new world of social media.
Winner 2013 - Gravity
There’s no sound in space - but that didn’t stop British composer Steven Price collecting his first Oscar for his immense Gravity score. With the film centring around the character Dr Ryan Stone - who is stranded in deep space - the composition captures the eerie isolation of the film. Creating a deep, immersive soundscape, the score follows Ryan’s emotional journey more than her physical one. The different layers to the soundtrack emphasise both the beauty and terror of space, ensuring the audience is strapped in for the ride.
Winner 2019 - ?
This Sunday we’ll see another 5 films hoping to win the Oscar for Best Original Score. We can’t predict who the winner will be, but with Ludwig Göransson’s “Black Panther” score being an office favourite, we would love a win for the Wakandan film. In the meantime, get into the Oscars spirit and listen to our Academy Awards inspired playlist