Oscar Circuit: Best Original Score


Alexandre Desplat – Philomena

While I’ll save a certain “always a bridesmaid” quip for the final nominee in the field, Alexandre Desplat has certainly had his fair share of lonely Oscar nights.  Twice in the last three years, he’s composed the score to the eventual Best Picture champion and has somehow failed to follow along in a sweep.  The Frenchman is notorious for working like a dog, producing three or four scores annually.  Since 2006, when Desplat received his first Academy Award nomination, he’s been invited to the ceremony every year except 2007 and 2011.  And for each of his previous five nominations, Desplat has gone home empty-handed.  Many think this year could see Desplat welcomed to the stage for the first time.

Desplat’s Philomena score isn’t his best work, but it’s certainly not bad (I don’t think saying “not his worst” makes a lot of sense here, unless you like pull out an example of some score he did that is really bad. Which I don’t think is your point).  There’s something deep and meaningful about his work here that I enjoy more and more with each listen.  He repeats a carnival-esque theme throughout the score.  The carnival music is reminiscent of the scene in which we learn of a key moment in Philomena’s past. Repeating the theme throughout the movie is important, because not only does it remind the listener of Philomena’s past, but it reflects how the Catholic Church–as portrayed in the film–is a bit of a carnival itself.  Save for Fantastic Mr. Fox and The Queen, this is probably my favorite Desplat score.  Many think this Harvey Weinstein-pushed film will earn at least one statue (I wouldn’t use “score” here as a verb…you’re using score everywhere else with a  totally different meaning, obvi)–will it be here?  For me, the BAFTA loss sealed the deal against this British film, but maybe this race  is closer than we think.