There are plenty of complaints this morning about Oscar snubs, and many of the people and films those arguments will name have a genuine case. Considering the year he has had, it’s absurd that Michael Fassbender didn’t get nominated for something (his performance in Shame was the most daring, but there’s a case to be made for his work in Jane Eyre as well as his turn as Magneto in X-Men: First Class), and the fact that treacly pablum like Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close got a nod for Best Picture and Bridesmaids didn’t (a movie that, despite the poop jokes and Kristen Wiig mugging, actually has something to say) is pretty absurd.
But as far as the Music Mix is concerned, the real crimes were committed in the music categories. Only two tunes were nominated for Best Original Song, leaving that roundly excellent and Golden Globe-winning Madonna song on the bench. The one saving grace in this category is the fact that “Man or Muppet” may actually get performed on the show, making it the second best TV appearance by our fine felt friends in 2012 (because nothing will be able to top Miss Piggy’s appearance on Project Runway All Stars).
The real crime is in the Best Original Score category, where Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross were shut out for their exemplary work for The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.
Reznor and Ross, who won the Oscar last year for their score for The Social Network (also directed by Dragon Tattoo helmer David Fincher), were passed over in favor of two John Williams scores (The Adventures of Tintin and War Horse), along with Howard Shore (Hugo), Alberto Iglesias (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy), and Ludovic Bource (The Artist). The big problem there is Williams, whose scores are so formulaic and interchangeable that you could literally assign any of them to any one of Steven Spielberg’s movies. In the case of War Horse, the score actually hurts the movie, as I don’t think it would be as nakedly, emotionally manipulative were it not for Williams’ heavy-handedness. In a just world, neither of the Williams scores would have gotten a nod, and Reznor, Ross, and Drive music master Cliff Martinez would all be getting their measurements taken for fresh tuxedos today.
Of course, it isn’t just that Reznor and Ross’ work on The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo was better than some of the hackier nominees. In fact, considering its problematic source material and inconsistent acting, the score is just about the only thing that consistently works in that movie. It’s a remarkable sprawl of a score, adding depth when it needs to and getting out of the way when the actors or the camera takes over. And there’s also that stunning title sequence set to Reznor and Ross’ interpretation on Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song,” as sung by Karen O. Surely they deserve an award for that alone.
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Reznor already has his Oscar and is still halfway to his EGOT, but in a year where film music was mostly pretty boring, it’s frustrating that an innovator doesn’t get the recognition he deserves. But isn’t that sort of the story of the Oscars?