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by Peter Knegt
February 5, 2013 11:24 AM
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For Your Consideration: 5 Oscar Categories That Could (Pretty Much) Go Any Which Way

"Life of Pi"

2. Best Original Score
The Academy played it safe in the nominations for this category, leaving out innovative scores from outside-the-establishment composers Jonny Greenwood ("The Master") and Dan Romer & Benh Zeitlin ("Beasts of the Southern Wild") -- the latter pair probably standing a good shot at winning had they actually been nominated. But in the wake of their snubs comes a very tight race, with one of the most nominated men in history (John Williams for "Lincoln," who at 48 nominations is the second most nominated person in Oscar history; he's won 5 already), going up against first timer Mychael Danna ("Life of Pi"), recent winner Dario Marianelli (nominated here for "Anna Karenina," and who won for another Joe Wright film, "Atonement," in 2008), and two men who have been nominated many times but have never won (Thomas Newman, getting his 11th nod for "Skyfall" and Alexandre Desplat, getting his 5th for "Argo").

Any of them could win, though it seems to be evolving into a three way race between Williams, Danna and Desplat.  If "Argo" is indeed heading to a best picture win, they'll want to give it a few other awards too, and this is one of the more likely options (besides film editing, which "Argo" seems good to go for). Desplat being owed certainly helps the cause. But it's also the least memorable score here, and Desplat has definitely done better (arguably in two other 2012 films -- "Zero Dark Thirty" and "Moonrise Kingdom"). Williams and Danna, however, produced quite memorable work for "Lincoln" and "Life of Pi," respectively. Williams' restrained score is definitely his best in a long while, and while he does have five Oscars, it's been 20 years since his last. Danna, meanwhile, is an Oscar newbie (though he should have been here for "The Sweet Hereafter" and "Moneyball." Which is notable in that three of the past four winners in this category also won their first Oscar on their first nomination...

'Searching for Sugar Man'

3. Best Documentary Feature
Sure, Malik Bendjelloul's "Searching For Sugar Man" feels like the frontrunner here. It's the only real box office hit, and is coming off wins with the PGA and DGA. But this category is notoriously hard to predict, and this year for the first time all Academy members were sent screeners of all the docs and can all vote in the category, which entirely changes voting patterns and gives this category no precedent. So while "Sugar Man" has the momentum, it's just as easy to see Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi's "5 Broken Cameras" or Dror Moreh's "The Gatekeepers" or David France's "How To Survive a Plague" or Kirby Dick's "The Invisible War" pushing through . For one, they all feel like much more "important" documentaries, which may or may not help them (last year's winner -- high school football doc "Undefeated" -- also had that sense about it compared to its fellow nominees).


  • Roberto | February 13, 2013 11:02 PMReply

    What about Best Animated Film?
    It is also a 3-4 way race. Although Brave won the BAFTA and the Globe... I wouldn't be surprised to see Frankenweenie or Wreck-it Ralph take he award... maybe event ParaNorman as a pleasant upset

  • jm | February 5, 2013 1:55 PMReply

    Riva is definately the most deserving. Sometimes the Academy gets it right.

  • Corvo | February 5, 2013 11:42 AMReply

    RIVA will win.

  • Fariz | February 5, 2013 11:41 AMReply

    How about Best Director?

  • shelly | February 5, 2013 11:36 AMReply

    The score to Beasts is ok in context yet incredibly derivative when given a thorough listen. But most importantly NOT the kind of score the Academy would EVER award. They have never been the most forward thinking when it comes to score. Saying things like it would have won had it been nominated is absurd. That never would have happened. It invalidates almost every opinion that follows. No one is coming to Indiewire for thoughts on music.

  • Peter Knegt | February 5, 2013 12:02 PM

    The Academy awarded Reznor/Ross two years ago for a very forward-thinking score. If "Beasts" had been nominated, I indeed think it could have won -- and not just because it's deserving. But also because it would have been an opportunity to give the film an Oscar (which it probably won't get elsewhere). And not only the film, but Zeitlin himself, who co-wrote the score.