Oscars 2019: What Should Have Been Nominated?

Each year the Oscars pay tribute to the musicians behind the best original songs and scores on offer in cinema throughout the previous year, so for part 2 of this series I’ll be covering what I feel should have been nominated in those categories – supporting actor/actress nominations are available in part 1 (available on the next page).

Best Song

Original Song Nominees

1. “Friction” (Mission: Impossible – Fallout)
Oscar Nomination? – No.

Perhaps dismissed from the list of actual nominees for being more prominent in the promotional campaign of this film than the picture itself, “Friction” by Imagine Dragons is, regardless of the reasons for its lack of nomination, a simply sensational action movie original song. The song simply pulsates the very tone of the movie it is featured on, offering sharp and harsh drums and rifts that echo the action offered on screen. It also makes for enjoyable listening as a standalone product, which shouldn’t be discounted regarding the importance of the nominees in this category.

2. “Hearts Beat Loud” (Hearts Beat Loud)
Oscar Nomination? – No.

So important to Hearts Beat Loud is this song that the movie arguably doesn’t exist without it. The film features a father-daughter duo making music together in a sort of post-modern musical take on the coming of age genre, and “Hearts Beat Loud” is right at the centre of the young female’s journey, her background, anxieties and overall arc encapsulated by this fantastically constructed and hugely uplifting piece of music. Had Hearts Beat Loud have been a massive hit, this song would surely have been included in the final list of nominees no matter how strong the field was.

3. “The Place Where Lost Things Go” (Mary Poppins Returns)
Oscar Nomination? – Yes.

The most emotional entry of the medley of fantastic original songs on offer in Disney’s long-gestated sequel to their classic musical Mary Poppins, “The Place Where Lost Things Go” is one of those timeless Disney constructions that tackles important issues in an accessible way for children while maintaining all of its seriousness and every inch of its impact. This song is by far the most replayable of the songs from Mary Poppins Returns and may even draw a tear or two when it’s performed in the movie itself. It must surely be considered a front-runner for the award at the Oscars.

4. “Pray For Me” (Black Panther)
Oscar Nomination? – No.

The focus of the Oscars this year as regards the music of Black Panther came in the shape and form of a nomination for the film’s title track “All the Stars”, but that song by Kendrick Lamar and SZA is only an honourable mention in this list of nominations because as good as that song is, it does seem tacked onto the film and not necessarily relevant to the content within it, unlike “Pray for Me”. From Kendrick Lamar and The Weeknd, “Pray for Me” not only adopts some of the film score’s iconic tones but also incorporates the journey of villain Killmonger into its every chorus and verse, offering even more depth to one of the very greatest comic book movie villains of all time. Its importance to the film and the quality of the song in departure from that is testament to the work of Lamar on this soundtrack overall and a worthy nominee that just pips its fellow Black Panther original to this spot.

5. “Shallow” (A Star Is Born)
Oscar Nomination? – Yes.

The kingpin of a movie centred on music, “Shallow” from Bradley Cooper’s A Star Is Born is the favourite to take home the Oscar and, with its mix of country, rock and pop, it’s easy to see why. Coming at an important moment in the flourishing relationship between the film’s central characters, the lyrics and the tone of the instrumentals explain so much about the characters and their motivations behind falling in love with one another, offering hints to their eventuality too. One of the most well layered offerings from this year’s qualifying songs, all wrapped up in a neat little pop-shaped bow.

Honourable Mentions: “Ashes” (Deadpool 2), “I’ll Never Love Again” (A Star Is Born), “All the Stars” (Black Panther), “Can You Imagine That?” (Mary Poppins Returns), “Requiem for a Private War” (A Private War”).

Missing Out: “All the Stars” (Black Panther), “I’ll Fight” (RBG), “When A Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings” (The Ballad of Buster Scruggs).

Original Score

Original Score Nominees

1. Terence Blanchard (BlackKklansman)
Oscar Nomination? – Yes.

Mixing the tragedy of the central most points of action in BlackKklansman with guitar rifts timely to the 70s setting, and creating an epic “call to action” anthem in the process, Terence Blanchard blew away most who witnessed his work on Spike Lee’s heavily nominated film. The famed jazz musician is earning his first Oscar nomination with his score and it’s impossible to deny him here, the work offered on BlackKklansman doing as much to set the mood of the piece as much of the mise-en-scene.

2. Nicholas Britell (If Beale Street Could Talk)
Oscar Nomination? – Yes.

Perhaps the original score with the most influence on the overall film is that of Nicholas Britell’s work on If Beale Street Could Talk, the melancholic strings working to establish a dark and down-trodden tone for the film’s protagonists and then picking us up to acknowledge the light of love within their darkness, the film’s visuals almost dancing in tune to the changes in the score. Britell’s work became the heartbeat of If Beale Street Could Talk, one of the most poetic offerings from American cinema in years, and thus earns its way onto this list and the official Oscars nominees list.

3. Ludwig Goransson (Black Panther)
Oscar Nomination? – Yes.

Mixing traditional African songs and sounds with the harsh and deep drums of modern American hip-hop made for one of the most re-playable scores in all of cinema in 2018, the work Goransson offered coming to expand the reach of traditional scores into a place more accessible for fans of different types of music through its monumentally epic sound and delivery. Every solo track from the score is fantastically representative of the moments, characters and places it represents, making it an all-time great superhero score and a certified top contender for the 2019 Oscar.

4. Jonny Greenwood (You Were Never Really Here)
Oscar Nomination? – No.

Arguably the least conventional of the five suggestions in this list is Jonny Greenwood’s score for Lynne Ramsay’s Joaquin Pheonix starring thriller You Were Never Really Here. Greenwood, who has composed most of the scores for Paul Thomas Anderson movies (including the most recently released Phantom Thread), mixed tangibly horrifying moments into his music that reasserted the tragedy of the protagonist’s actions and those he was confronting, the almost barraging impact of sounds in the film’s lighter moments serving as a reminder of the noises in the character’s head and the unusual perception of violence we were being presented with. How the Oscars missed out on this one (and You Were Never Really Here as a whole) in 2019, is anyone’s guess.

5. Justin Hurwitz (First Man)
Oscar Nomination? – No.

The winner of the Golden Globe for this award but nowhere to be seen on the list of nominees for the Oscars, Justin Hurwitz’s work on the score for First Man seems like the most blatantly obvious exclusion from this year’s most glitzy party. The sound created by Hurwitz acted as if the music to which the entirety of space travel danced, taking notes from the work of those featured in 2001: A Space Odyssey to create something that felt truly monumental. As much as any other score in this list or nominated by the academy itself, Hurwitz’s work came to be one of the defining elements of the picture it was featured on and seemed to be a front-runner for the award ahead of the nominees announcement. There is an incredible field of composers working at the height of their powers right now and not everyone can be nominated, but there’s no doubting that Hurwitz’s is certainly one of the most moving and memorable of the bunch.

Honourable Mentions: Alexandre Desplat (Isle of Dogs), Matthew Herbert (Disobedience), Johann Johannsson (Mandy), Anne Nikitin (American Animals), Marc Shaiman (Mary Poppins Returns), Hans Zimmer (Widows).

Missing Out: Alexandre Desplat (Isle of Dogs), Marc Shaiman (Mary Poppins Returns).

Click the next page for Supporting Actor/Actress suggestions!

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