Spotlight on Scores is back and coming to you with two films from established players. Disney seems to be back in the race again with Frozen and Oscar winner John Williams has crafted a score for The Book Thief, a film set during WWII, Oscars favorite genre. So will either film do damage come awards time? Let’s dig in.
Composer: Orchestral Score by Christophe Beck; Music and Lyrics by Kristen and Robert Lopez
Verdict: Disney has a long history of animated musicals and Frozen fits in fantastically with their tradition. The songs are great and the orchestral score fills the gaps when the characters aren’t singing. While it’s true they had some amazing vocal talent (Bell, Menzel, Fontana, Gad, and Groff), the lyrical content of the songs is wonderful. You’re hard-pressed to leave Frozen and not have on of the songs stuck in your head. Frozen’s first half hinges so heavily on the songs that it’s tough to imagine people taking notice of the film and not bringing the songs along.
Oscar Prospects: “Let It Go” is all but assured a nomination in Original Song, with one more possibly coming with it, but getting the score as a whole in will be a bit more difficult. A Disney animated musical hasn’t been nominated for score since Mulan, when there were two separate score categories, and they haven’t won since Wicked composer Stephen Schwartz and Disney stalwart Alan Menken teamed up for Pocahontas. Those are tough odds for the score to overcome, but if anyone can push through, it’s Disney.
Best Track: For the First Time in Forever (Reprise)
The Book Thief
Composer: John Williams
Verdict: Man has John Williams really rediscovered the magic when it comes to scoring movies. With this effort and last year’s Lincoln, he’s managed to create tunes that go for mood and subtlety rather than bombast or sentimentality. The Book Thief is a movie with some strong elements (narrated by Death, WWII, etc.) and the score has to be able to convey those without overwhelming us. John Williams manages to use all of the orchestra he has at his disposal and really create a score that wraps around the movie.
Oscar Prospects: Well Clayton and the staff all have it predicted and it is John Williams, so he’s all but assured a nomination. I’d pencil him in for an upset win if anything happens to the other contenders.
Best Track: The Book Thief