Let’s Go to the Oscars #9: Stephen Warbeck wins Best Original Musical or Comedy Score for Shakespeare in Love (1998)

Every once in a while there are discussions about whether a certain film was awarded an Oscar by mistake (generally they’re talking about the Best Picture Oscar), and this is going to (briefly) be one of those discussions.

Stephen Warbeck wins Best Original Musical or Comedy Score for Shakespeare in Love (1998)

It’s not that I don’t like Shakespeare in Love, in fact I enjoyed it very much the first time I saw it. The film follows the (very fictional) story of how William Shakespeare (Joseph Fiennes) came to write Romeo and Juliet, all while falling deeply in love with a noblewoman (Gwyneth Paltrow) who is promised in marriage to Lord Wessex (Colin Firth).

The thing is, when you know what it was up against, one can’t help but wonder what the Academy was thinking. Consider this: Shakespeare in Love was up against Patch Adams, The Prince of Egypt (orchestral score by Hans Zimmer), A Bug’s Life (Randy Newman) and Mulan (orchestral score by Jerry Goldsmith)!! Excluding Patch Adams (no offense), any of those latter three scores should have easily taken the Oscar, particularly Mulan (which I have covered previously).

You’ll also notice that this isn’t a win for “Best Original Score” but “Best Original Musical or Comedy Score”, while a separate Oscar is given for Best Original Dramatic Score. For some reason, between 1996 and 1999, Best Original Score was separated into these two categories. Someone probably found the arrangement redundant or confusing because after the victory of Shakespeare in Love, the distinction was retired and the award returned to simply, “Best Original Score.”

I would’ve preferred to see either Mulan or The Prince of Egypt take this award, but that’s just my opinion. Do you agree? Disagree? Let me know in the comments and I hope everyone has a great weekend! I’ll be working on part 2 of my interview this afternoon 🙂

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For more Oscar winning composers, see also: Let’s Go to the Oscars


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