Oscarthon: Best Original Score

Although it had its usual share of hiccups yet again (like disqualifying Where The Wild Things Are), the Score category surprised me with two of my favorites that I thought would be overlooked, and another great inclusion that didn't even occur to me.

1. Avatar- James Horner (2 for 8)

For your consideration: "War"

Funny how the future as depicted in cinema looks better and fancier all the time, but the soundtrack is the same old bombastic thing. Witness the above selection, a pretty standard Greek-chorus type of thing- seems like it could be from a chariot race or gladiator fight, not a huge battle between twin-blade space helicopters, robot-exoskeletons and big alien dinosaurs. If you want to see the future done right, see Clint Mansell's great work on the indie Moon.

Horner is a frequent nominee, but has wins only for Titanic's score and song. If he takes the trophy, it will probably be good news for the film's Best Picture chances.

2. Fantastic Mr. Fox- Alexandre Desplat (0 for 2)

For your consideration: "Kristofferson's Theme"

Desplat had a busy year in 2009- so much that I was sure that he'd get nominated for his work in Coco Before Chanel, A Prophet, Julie and Julia, or even New Moon before his wonderfully vibrant Fox score.

He matches frequent Wes Anderson composer Mark Mothersbaugh's plucky string work with some richer, more emotional compositions which helped make Fantastic Mr. Fox arguably Anderson's most affecting film.

3. The Hurt Locker- Marco Beltrami (0 for 1) and Buck Sanders (0 for 0)

For your consideration: "The Way I Am"

Hey did you know there's super-loud death metal band called "Hurtlocker"? Just a tip if you're looking for score clips on YouTube and have headphones in. I learned the hard away.

Anyway, a wonderful inclusion of a score I forgot about. It seems a lot like the branch trying to make up for certain past omissions, since the score has a lot of similarities to Zimmer and Howard's dark, atonal Dark Knight score- plus one track (from the six IED scene) is even entitled "There Will Be Bombs," an homage to Johnny Greenwood's tragically disqualified score from '07.

4. Sherlock Holmes- Hans Zimmer (1 for 7)

For your consideration: "Not In Blood, But In Bond"

Loved Zimmer's work here, especially the plaintive tack above when it looks like Watson died in an explosion (spoiler- he was fine. I'm sure you're shocked). The whole score had a very broken-piano, ranshackle, steampunk feel to it that was superb.

5. Up- Michael Giacchino (0 for 1)

For your consideration: "Married Life"

Your likely winner, thanks to the unforgettable early montage in Up that made everyone all teary-eyed. Giacchino's score does most of the heavy lifting in that sequence, and the score weaves in and out of the rest of the film nicely.

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