Will The Social Network win Best Score?
It's that time of the year when we folk who write on film throw our hats into the soothsaying ring and decide to declare who will win -- and who should win -- the upcoming Oscar race.
This year, I decided to mix things up a little. Instead of a look at every nominee in the race, I'm focussing only on the men, women and films I'm putting my money on. The nominees that matter, I daresay, even though I may well end up with egg on my face.
We kick things off then with my pick for the Best Original Score category: Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross for The Social Network.
Image: A scene from Social Network, inset Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross
Why The Social Network deserves to win
Nine Inch Nails collaborators Reznor and Ross created something breathtaking for David Fincher's The Social Network, a thrilling electronic score that is as relevant to the proceedings as any of the characters, or Aaron Sorkin's script.
It's a fundamental soundtrack, one set firmly in today -- and occasionally flexing quite the techno muscle -- and one that is perfectly appropriate to the film at hand. It reworks Grieg's In The Hall Of The Mountain King with amazing, emphatic grace, but the rest of the time it is tender and melancholy, beautiful and startling.
Edgy, brave and radical, theirs is the kind of soundtrack we haven't heard before, and it deserves wholehearted applause.
Image: A scene from The Social Network
Why The Social Network may not win
The Academy, of course, might be more inclined to back a more conventional soundtrack, one it is used to.
In this regard there is, first, Alexandre Desplat's lovely classical score for The King's Speech, as lovely and unspectacular as Tom Hooper's film itself. The piano-tinkling is gentle and there is much impressive minimalism, but this worthy contender really doesn't come close to winning the top prize.
What does, on the other hand, is Hans Zimmer's rousing, trombone-loving score for Inception. Zimmer leans into a lot of guitar this time around, something that greatly textures this almost architecturally plotted soundtrack, and he very elegantly even brings in Edith Piaf's Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien into his main theme. Zimmer's chances are further boosted by the fact that Christopher Nolan's film is being largely sidelined at the Oscars this year, and this could be a peace offering from the Academy.
Image: Scenes from The King's Speech; Inset: Alexandre Desplat; and Inception. Inset: Hans Zimmer
Why AR Rahman won't win
Dramatic and sensational as the 127 Hours score is -- it even prompted the real-life Aron Ralston to send our AR a note saying that he could have spent another 127 hours trapped under that rock if he had Rahman's music around him -- it is tragically crowded out in a category with worthier contenders this year.
Rahman's score has a frantic pulse and much to be excited about but it's outshined by both The Social Network and Inception.
In a weaker year, he'd have been a likely pick, but this year it's best to keep hopes nice and low.
Image: A scene from 127 Hours. Inset: A R Rahman
Give it to the NiN folks, Oscar, come on!
The Academy tossed us all a googly by nominating John Powell's exhaustive work for How To Train Your Dragon. It is a year animated films are finding acceptance in major cinematic categories, and while Mr Powell's score more than complements the film and brings in bonafide drama, it is hard to shake off the feeling that the Academy just decided to go with a quirky cartoon film to set the pigeon amongst the cats in an exceptionally contested category.Yes, Inception is quite a stunning soundtrack. And yes, some parts of the 127 Hours score kill -- though the absolute strongest parts of that soundtrack admittedly come from Free Blood and Sigur Ros, not our composer. Still, it remains a great score. As does Mr Desplat's stark and pretty work in The King's Speech.
The score for The Social Network, however, is in a very different league. With it, Reznor and Ross have built something both relatable and resonating, highly modern as well as entirely timeless. It is a highly nuanced score that, like Fincher's film, breaks from convention and questions structure itself.
This is music we deserve to embrace and dissect, bit by brave bit.
Image: A scene from How to Train A Dragon, inset John Powell