Sunday, March 05, 2006

Trudeau tunes up for the Oscars

Of all the Oscars to be distributed tonight, the one I'm most eagerly awaiting is the prize for Best Original Musical Score. That's because I've been listening to NPR commentator Andy Trudeau's reviews and analyses of the nominees: Alberto Iglesias for The Constant Gardener, Gustavo Santaolalla for Brokeback Mountain, Dario Marianelli for Pride and Prejudice, and John Williams for Memoirs of a Geisha and Munich. John Williams has to be the odds-on favorite, if only because he has two of the five nominated scores. Still, there's always the possibility Williams will split his votes, giving one of the lesser-known composers a chance for a first Oscar.

I'm split myself in deciding which score to favor. I know Santaolalla's the best, since Brokeback Mountain was the only one of the nominees I heard in a theater. That music is very stirring, and deeply integrated into the themes and emotional content of the movie - as Trudeau noted, there are only 13 minutes of original music in this score, so it might lose points for brevity. The Iglesias score seems more about atmospherics, establishing an African setting with world-music flourishes. The Marianelli score similarly didn't impress me as particularly original, though it does conjure a mood and a period. The Williams scores both seem to have more dimensions - Geisha has its world-music aspects, but it seems to have a particular character of its own. Munich has some Middle-Eastern touches, and sets a tragic tone without being cloying.

I'll pick that Williams score to Munich, going against Trudeau's call for Geisha - if for no other reason, Munich has more buzz, and its themes feel very timely. Whichever wins, I hope he finds a chance to thank Andy Trudeau, since he's done such a great job introducing the public to some new scores and talented composers. Trudeau's reviews are in three segments: Geisha and Gardener, Brokeback and Munich, and Pride and Prejudice.

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