Tag Archives: Oscars

Let’s Go to the Oscars #13: Henry Mancini wins Best Music Score of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture for ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ (1961)

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Henry Mancini wins for Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961)

In today’s entry, at the 34th annual Academy Awards (which were hosted by Bob Hope), Cyd Charisse and Tony Martin present the Oscar for Best Music Score of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture to Henry Mancini. This is one of two Oscars that the film ultimately received (the other being for Best Original Song “Moon River”, co-composed by Johnny Mercer). It was also nominated for Best Actress in a Leading Role, Best Art Direction and Best Adapted Screen play.

Over his long career, Mancini (who died of pancreatic cancer in 1994) won four Academy Awards, a Golden Globe and twenty Grammy Awards. He became well known for his collaborations with director Blake Edwards. Breakfast at Tiffany’s is often cited when speaking about Mancini (though The Pink Panther is widely considered his most famous score) and is also considered the defining role for Audrey Hepburn.

The film is loosely based on Truman Capote’s novella of the same name and follows the romantic mis-adventures of the utterly naive socialite Holly Golightly (Hepburn) who is also unwittingly caught up in a mobster’s drug ring. At the same time, Holly juggles multiple suitors while also flirting with her neighbor Paul (George Peppard). The film was well-received upon release and continues to re-appear in “classic” movie marathons from time to time though it has received increasing criticism over the decades for employing a notorious use of ‘yellow-face’ (Mickey Rooney plays “Mr. Yunioshi” with the help of makeup and a prosthetic mouthpiece). Nevertheless, the film was deemed worthy of preservation in the National Film Registry in 2012 and for better or worse, there it remains.

If you’ve seen Breakfast at Tiffany’s, what did you think about it and Mancini’s music for it? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

For more Oscar fun, see also:

Let’s go to the Oscars #1: Jerry Goldsmith wins Original Score with “The Omen”

Let’s go to the Oscars #2: James Horner wins Best Original Dramatic Score and Best Original Song with “Titanic”

Let’s go to the Oscars #3: John Williams and his five Academy Awards

Let’s go to the Oscars #4: Howard Shore wins for “The Lord of the Rings”

Let’s Go to the Oscars #5: Alexandre Desplat wins Best Original Score for The Grand Budapest Hotel

Let’s Go to the Oscars #6: Michael Giacchino wins Best Original Score for Up (2009)

Let’s Go to the Oscars #7: Ennio Morricone wins Best Original Score for The Hateful Eight (2016)

Let’s Go to the Oscars #8: Tan Dun wins Best Original Score for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)

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

Let’s Go to the Oscars #10: Miklos Rozsa wins Best Score of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture for Ben-Hur (1959)

Let’s Go to the Oscars #11: John Barry wins Best Original Score for The Lion in Winter (1968)

Let’s Go to the Oscars #12: Maurice Jarre wins Music Score-Substantially Original for Lawrence of Arabia (1962)

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Let’s Go to the Oscars #12: Maurice Jarre wins Music Score-Substantially Original for Lawrence of Arabia (1962)

Since it is awards season, I decided it was time to return to my annual series Let’s Go to the Oscars, where I continue my journey to highlight all of the film composers who have been honored with an Academy Award for Best Original Score (and the many different names that award has taken over the decades). For example, you see in the title how I refer to Maurice Jarre’s win as “Music Score-Substantially Original”? It sounds like a mouthful but that’s what the award was called that year.

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Maurice Jarre wins for Lawrence of Arabia (1962)

In this entry, at the 35th Annual Academy Awards, Ginger Rogers (longtime dance companion of Fred Astaire) presents the Oscar for “Music Score-Substantially Original” to Maurice Jarre (the award is accepted by Morris Stoloff on Jarre’s behalf) for his work on Lawrence of Arabia. This is preceded by host Frank Sinatra telling some simply awful jokes (at least I think they’re meant to be jokes).

This Oscar was one of seven that the epic film ultimately received (it was nominated for ten), the others being: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Cinematography (Color), Best Art Direction (Color), Best Film Editing and Best Sound Mixing.

Jarre (who died in 2009) was a French composer who won 3 Academy Awards over the course of his career out of 9 nominations (the other wins being for Doctor Zhivago (1965) and A Passage to India (1984)). Some consider Lawrence of Arabia to be one of Jarre’s greatest scores (and I’m inclined to agree). The film recounts the story of T.E. Lawrence (the titular “Lawrence of Arabia”) and his work in the Arabian Peninsula during World War I. It is considered to be one of the most influential films ever made (and certainly high up on the list of “films you must see at least once before you die.”)

I’m a little disappointed that Maurice Jarre wasn’t there to accept his award in person, since it’s always interesting to hear what the composer has to say, however briefly, about their accomplishment. At any rate, I hope you enjoyed this look back at the Oscars in the early 1960s (I can’t help but point out once again how much simpler and shorter the ceremony used to be). If you’ve seen Lawrence of Arabia, what did you think of the film and Jarre’s score? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below 🙂

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

Let’s go to the Oscars #1: Jerry Goldsmith wins Original Score with “The Omen”

Let’s go to the Oscars #2: James Horner wins Best Original Dramatic Score and Best Original Song with “Titanic”

Let’s go to the Oscars #3: John Williams and his five Academy Awards

Let’s go to the Oscars #4: Howard Shore wins for “The Lord of the Rings”

Let’s Go to the Oscars #5: Alexandre Desplat wins Best Original Score for The Grand Budapest Hotel

Let’s Go to the Oscars #6: Michael Giacchino wins Best Original Score for Up (2009)

Let’s Go to the Oscars #7: Ennio Morricone wins Best Original Score for The Hateful Eight (2016)

Let’s Go to the Oscars #8: Tan Dun wins Best Original Score for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)

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

Let’s Go to the Oscars #10: Miklos Rozsa wins Best Score of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture for Ben-Hur (1959)

Let’s Go to the Oscars #11: John Barry wins Best Original Score for The Lion in Winter (1968)

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Reaction to Oscar Nominations: Kubo and the Two Strings and Moana

I was so looking forward to checking out the Oscar nominations when I got back from my trip. In the last couple of years, I’ve gotten more and more into watching the Academy Awards and tracking which films win and which films don’t. And as I stated earlier, I had my own thoughts on who might get nominated for Best Original Score (the Academy Award I pay attention to the most); my favorites included Moana and Kubo and the Two Strings, which are (in my opinion) the best animated films I saw in the previous year.

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Well, the results are in and I am stunned, and slightly disgusted. But let’s start with the good news: Kubo and the Two Strings has been nominated for Best Animated Feature (and rightfully so) as well as Best Visual Effects (also rightfully so).

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Moana has also been nominated for Best Animated Feature (which I agree with) and the gorgeous song “How Far I’ll Go” has been nominated for Best Original Song. This makes me really happy because “How Far I’ll Go” is a great song, it’s the equivalent of “Let it Go” from Frozen, which makes me really confident that it could win the Oscar.

That’s the good news. Now for the bad news….

Neither film has been nominated for Best Original Score. The films that were nominated for Best Original Score are: Jackie; La La Land; Lion; Moonlight; and Passengers. Shockingly (or perhaps not), John Williams BFG score wasn’t nominated either, and Williams has been nominated fairly consistently over his career.But I digress…

I can (almost) understand why Moana didn’t get the Best Original Score nomination; it’s beautiful and amazing, but I can admit (reluctantly) that it wasn’t THE best score of them all. But I cannot accept that Kubo and the Two Strings wasn’t at the very least NOMINATED because…have you HEARD that score?? As I said before, the score for Kubo is refreshing in that it places traditional Japanese music front and center, with the shamisen providing the bulk of the melody. The Academy has made a serious mistake by not considering this film for the award.

And looking back at the ones that DID get nominated…will someone please tell me what is so great about La La Land? For the record, I have heard some of the music in question, and while it is good and serves its purpose, it’s not the BEST music I ever heard. And yet, somehow, this film has been nominated for FOURTEEN Academy Awards.

??????? Really?? I’m sorry, I just don’t get it. Maybe I will understand some day, but right now I’m just upset that a lot of great films are being snubbed by the Academy.

 

Let’s Go to the Oscars #11: John Barry wins Best Original Score for The Lion in Winter (1968)

I would understand if you told me you’d never heard of The Lion in Winter, I don’t think time has been very good to this story (despite it being the first major film role for Anthony Hopkins and the film debut of Timothy Dalton). The film is an adaptation of the 1966 Broadway play of the same name and tells the story of the personal and political troubles of Henry II of England, his wife Eleanor of Aquitaine and their three (surviving) sons: Richard, Geoffrey and John during Christmas in the year 1183.

John Barry wins Best Original Score for The Lion in Winter (1968)

I watched this film many times several years ago (I had a fascination with medieval history) and I remember the music stood out to me as being particularly good. That’s really no surprise because it was composed by John Barry, perhaps best known for composing the music to 11 James Bond films. However, while I acknowledge the beauty of this score, I don’t think it should’ve won the Oscar; that honor should have gone to Jerry Goldsmith for Planet of the Apes. We all know that film is a classic, and it still pains me that Goldsmith only received the one Oscar during his long career.

Barry’s win (I should add) is also an example of that rare occasion where the winner is not present to accept the Oscar. Most of the time (in my experience), if a nominee is not available, they usually send someone who can accept in their place. In this case, however, Gregory Peck, one of the presenters, chose to accept on Barry’s behalf. I can’t help but wonder what kept Barry away from the Oscars. I know that if *I* ever won an Academy Award and missed the chance to accept it, it would eat me alive for years to come! (But then again, I don’t see that happening to me any time soon). But I digress…here’s to The Lion in Winter and its Oscar win for Best Original Score!

For more Oscar winners, check out the page here: Let’s Go to the Oscars

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Let’s Go to the Oscars #10: Miklos Rozsa wins Best Score of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture for Ben-Hur (1959)

For the most part, this series has been looking at Oscar wins from relatively recent films, but today I thought I would go back a bit further and check out the Oscar win of what is possibly one of the greatest films ever made: Ben-Hur (1959). I may have mentioned it before, and in any event I have no trouble saying it again: no film has EVER won more Oscars than this film. Ben-Hur took home eleven Academy Awards that night, a feat that has only been tied TWICE (by Titanic (1997) and Return of the King (2003)) and never surpassed. One of those well-earned Oscars was given for Rozsa’s indelible score.

Miklos Rozsa wins the Oscar for Ben-Hur (1959)

It’s really interesting to look back and see how much the Oscars ceremony has changed over the years (and I don’t just mean that it used to be shown in black and white either). For one, you notice how much shorter the presentations are? And not just that, the acceptance speeches are REALLY shorter. If they did the Oscars today like they did then, the show would be over well before midnight (and would that really be a bad thing?)

Truth be told, in terms of showing early Oscar clips like this one, I actually can’t go back too much farther in time. Although the Academy Awards have been held since 1929, they weren’t televised to the public until 1953 (before then, starting in 1930, you could listen on the radio). So 1953 is as far back as I can go, unless I someday get my hands on some of the radio broadcasts (I’m working on that actually). Anyways, I hope you enjoy this look back at the 1960 Oscars, and if you’ve never watched the 1959 Ben-Hur (especially if you suffered through the 2016 remake), please go give it a try, the music will stick with you for days!

For more Oscar winners, check out the page here: Let’s Go to the Oscars

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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

Let’s Go to the Oscars #8: Tan Dun wins Best Original Score for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)

What film score could possibly outshine John Williams’ work with The Patriot or Hans Zimmer’s score for Gladiator? Why, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon of course!

Set in the Qing Dynasty (the equivalent of 1779 by the Western calendar), the story follows the lives of several characters as they intertwine around a fantastic sword called Green Destiny. This is a wuxia film, a genre that tells stories of martial artists in ancient China.

Tan Dun wins Best Original Score for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)

As Tan Dun says in his acceptance speech, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon helped to bridge the gap between East and West, as it is still considered one of the most popular (and successful) foreign films to ever be released in the United States.

The score for this film is very beautiful and features many solo passages performed by

Yo-Yo Ma, a Chinese-American cellist and former child prodigy (he’s been playing the cello since he was four). I should also mention the entire score for the two hour film was produced in two weeks flat (most scores take four to six weeks, give or take).

I admit it  has been a long time since I saw this film, but I remember it left a deep impression on me and I’m sure it is one of the first foreign films I ever saw. If you haven’t seen it, please give it a try (the music alone is worth the price of a DVD).

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For more Oscar winning composers, see also:

Let’s go to the Oscars #1: Jerry Goldsmith wins Original Score with “The Omen”

Let’s go to the Oscars #2: James Horner wins Best Original Dramatic Score and Best Original Song with “Titanic”

Let’s go to the Oscars #3: John Williams and his five Academy Awards

Let’s go to the Oscars #4: Howard Shore wins for “The Lord of the Rings”

Let’s Go to the Oscars #5: Alexandre Desplat wins Best Original Score for The Grand Budapest Hotel

Let’s Go to the Oscars #6: Michael Giacchino wins Best Original Score for Up (2009)

Let’s Go to the Oscars #7: Ennio Morricone wins Best Original Score for The Hateful Eight (2016)