The 86th Annual Academy Awards will air on March 2, and will be hosted by the ever hilarious and avid music lover, Ellen DeGeneres.
While the event predominantly celebrates achievements in film, extraordinary film and music teams are also recognized for their collaborations with two categories: Original Song, and Original Score.
The nominees, as we mentioned several weeks ago, include some of music’s most distinguished composers and progressive songwriters, such as John Williams, Thomas Newman, U2, Pharrell, and Karen O. Although, if you’re not familiar with some of the prospective winners, then stay tuned to MSC over the next few days for all the details, and make your predictions on our Oscars poll!
To get you as pumped as we are, each day leading up to the big night we’ll post pieces on one of the nominees in each music category, and Sunday we’ll reveal everyone’s predictions before the show! Today’s Original Score nominee is John Williams’ for The Book Thief.
The Book Thief
Did this film feel familiar to anyone? Fans of the BBC’s hit period drama Downton Abbey probably flocked the theaters for The Book Thief’s release, as the trailers promised equally as moving cinematic beauty from Downton’s director, Brian Percival.
The film is based on Markus Zusak’s famed novel of the same name and tells the story of orphaned Liesel’s new life among liberals in nazi Germany. Through words and stories Liesel discovers herself and learns that with language one can cope and even inspire others. As heartfelt as this may sound, there is a very dark undercurrent to this film, and who better to score the entire range of human emotion in one soundtrack than the master himself, John Williams.
One review of Williams’s score notes that the composer “now 81 -- seemed to have been in semi-retirement for some time now, making exceptions only for his friends Steven Spielberg and George Lucas. ...Any new score from John Williams these days feels like a special event; one for a non-Spielberg film perhaps even more so.”
The same reviewer goes on to describe the score as an album that plays “almost like a comforting letter from an old friend. ...It oozes class from every pore,” adding “While there is generally a sombre tone, this is a story from a child’s perspective and as such there is often a compelling innocence to it; and just occasionally, a delightfully playful air.”
Several critics note an overwhelming amount of similarities between The Book Thief’s score and several of Williams’s other scores, but there are certainly a number of nuances that tailor the score specifically to the Book Thief.
Will the subtle differences Williams brought to The Book Thief be enough to secure the win, or will his humble, yet powerful score be written off as predictable?
You can read James Southall’s full review of the score here.