Score! A look at the Best Original Score, a lesser known category

John Benedeck, Courier Staff

We all remember when Adrien Brody won Best Actor for “The Pianist,” and kissed Halle Berry as he received the golden statue.

We all remember Leonardo DiCaprio finally winning an Oscar for Best Actor in “The Revenant.”

The Academy Awards are a time of recognition of greatness and aspirations being fueled. However, the categories that come before the big five are often forgotten. One of them being the award for the Best Original Score.

This category is awarded to the film and composer, with the best accompanying music.

There has been a diverse array of winners over the years.

For instance, the 70’s and early 80’s were the John Williams show. He was nominated for 12 awards between 1971 and 1989, and won five of them. Even at 86, he continues to compose as he is nominated for the most recent Star Wars installment.

Williams, of course, is best known for “Star Wars,” “Indiana Jones” and “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” all of which he won at least one Academy Award for.

The more obscure winners included Hans Zimmer with “Lion King” in 1994. He is the modern pioneer of musical scoring, as he composes almost entirely with electronic keyboards and software.

Zimmer is best known for “Pirates of the Caribbean,” “The Dark Knight,” and more recently “Dunkirk.” That score takes a more minimalistic approach. He is up for the award once again at the 90th Academy Awards.

Williams and Zimmer would arguably be two heads on the film music Mount Rushmore. Possibly along with Philip Glass (“Fog of War,” “Truman Show”).

This category, unlike others, focuses solely on what we hear. It emphasized what would otherwise be unnoticed.

We all, of course, recognize the iconic opening Star Wars fanfare that opens every film of the legendary saga. We all remember the chromatic stringed bass slide when the most ferocious shark in cinematic history is approaching.

Do we ever actually stop to think of how important music is in film?

John Williams once said, “Writing a tune is like sculpting. You get four or five notes, you take one out and move one around, and you do it a bit more and eventually, as the sculptor says, “in that rock there is a statue, we have to go find it.”

As much work that goes into writing a screenplay, or developing an intricate costume design (“Mad Max: Fury Road,” “ Lord of the Rings: Return of the King”), the same, if not more work, is put into writing the music for a film.

Beethoven spent years writing a single movement to his “Ninth Symphony.” He wrote it for a full orchestra, as well as a solo pianist.

Now, picture that amount of effort along with synchronizing with a film.

It is important to understand that a film would not be possible without the armies of credits they attribute to. Yes, those seemingly redundant words at the end of a movie are not just there to take up space. They list every possible, and essential, cog in the machine.

From production to promotions, a film’s existence relies on everyone involved.

Next time you are at a film, take time to not just watch it, but listen as well. Each hit-time of a cymbal or bass drum is intentional and meant to enhance a moment.

In the words of one of the best music movies, “August Rush,” “[Music’s] all around us. All you have to do is open yourself up. All you have to do is listen.”