As the Academy prepares for its rush of Oscar shortlist announcements coming on Monday, December 16, a handful of contenders in the Best Original Score and Best Original Song categories have already been eliminated.
Trade publication Variety got an early look at the eligibility lists for these categories. On the list of 170 eligible scores, missing are “Captain Marvel” from composer Pinar Toprak, “The Irishman” from Robbie Robertson, “The Two Popes” from Bryce Dessner, “Knives Out” from Nathan Johnson (whom IndieWire highlighted at the recent Consider This FYC Brunch), “A Hidden Life” from James Newton Howard, and “Ad Astra” from Max Richter and Lorne Balfe. Notably missing from the list of 75 Best Original Song contenders is Regina Spektor’s “One Little Soldier” from “Bombshell.”
Sources told Variety that an “administrative mixup” was the cause of “Knives Out” no-show status on the list, as was the case for “One Little Soldier.” And it turns out that “Captain Marvel,” despite featuring a female composer on a billion-dollar-grossing, female-led superhero film, wasn’t submitted at all. It’s said that Disney has chosen to chase more Oscars for “Avengers: Endgame” over the Brie Larson starrer.
A music branch rule eliminates scores “diminished in impact by the predominant use of songs or any music not composed specifically for the film by the submitting composer.” That’s the case for “The Two Popes” and “The Irishman,” two Netflix titles that prominently feature licensed period songs over original musical material. Robertson’s score did earn a Critics’ Choice Award nomination on Sunday, however.
And don’t look for Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” which relies entirely on a soundtrack of classic oldies.
Meanwhile, James Newton Howard’s “A Hidden Life” score is, in the Academy’s eyes, overshadowed by Terrence Malick’s use of classical music and employment of other composers to add the finishing touches to his opus.
“Ad Astra,” despite having one of the year’s most beautiful scores courtesy of “The Leftovers” music scribe and veteran classical composer Max Richter, was disqualified. While Richter wrote the bulk of the score, Lorne Balfe does have a credit for writing additional music, and an Academy rule states “two credited composers [must] function as equal collaborators, each contributing fully to the original dramatic underscore.” Balfe wrote the score later on in post-production, and never actually collaborated with Richter.
The 2020 Academy Award nominations will be announced on January 13.