The other night I was invited to listen to a live performance of Alexander, who scored All is Lost. One of the many interesting things about the JC Chandor joint is how he put it together and what kind of talent he found. Chief among those is the talented enigma behind Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros who is really Alex Ebert. The party was held at a location which is as yet unnamed, and no press exists about it. You aren’t even really allowed to take photos. But if I could have taken any I would have taken hundreds. The two story room has a secret screening room upstairs, whereupon I met Mr. Ebert who was sitting there discussing how All is Lost looked playing on the projection wall. It looked fantastic, of course – those bright aqua blues, Redford’s shock of red-grey hair.
The bar provided endless amounts of liquor. Waiters passed around food to eat as people began to fill up the place. Ebert then took the stage after a brief intro by Chandor. Of scoring the film, Ebert told NPR:
It really felt like stepping into nothing, and just sort of putting that first color on that gigantic canvas. … Silence was the other main character, and … I really wanted to respect the silence — and by silence, of course, I mean the natural sounds, and the sounds that Redford is hearing.
As a fan of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes my mind was kind of blown. Do I get to do lots of groovy things on the job? I do. This was one of them. Even though there were no pictures available, I stole Tom O’Neil’s idea of using a small recorder to get some of it down for the record. You can listen to that below.
As for Best Score, it has never been my strong suit, predicting how that will go. Usually you start with the big names and work backwards from there. This year, there are several big names in the game. And several scores that already standout in the Oscar punditry world.
Here is how it’s shaping up over at Gold Derby:
I agree with the Derbyites that Steven Price’s score for Gravity probably has this category sewn up, as Gravity will take many awards this year, even if it doesn’t take Best Picture/Director/Screenplay. It will take visual effects in a walk, probably cinematography, sound and sound editing. It might also take score, like Life of Pi did last year.
I think there’s a very good chance Alexander Ebert can crack the five, the reason being, you just have to make people aware of who he is, what he does, and how big of a character his music plays in the film. Turns out, it plays a big part. It is anything but background music. In a film with no dialogue you have Redford. You have silence. And you have music. Is he a big name? He’s a big name among those in the know — maybe not those in the Academy.
You don’t necessarily need to have heard all of the scores to predict this category; a big name will do. For instance, if you’re wondering why The Book Thief keeps showing up, that’s because it’s scored by none other than the esteemed John Williams. You might as well take that one to the bank. I wish more people would see that movie because it is a worthy contender in many categories. Why do people have Monsters University on the list? Because Randy Newman did the score. You getting the picture now? Alan Silvestri scored The Croods, Thomas Newman scored Saving Mr. Banks, Hans Zimmer pulls a double header with Rush and 12 Years a Slave, Howard Shore scored Wolf of Wall Street, and Danny Elfman is on American Hustle.
Minus John Williams, there are exceptions to every Oscar rule. Are the scores going to be eligible is always the big question. But given that, the score category to my mind might look something like this.
1. Steven Price, Gravity – like Alexander Ebert for All is Lost the music IS a character in the film.
2. Hans Zimmer, 12 Years a Slave – big name, big movie. Unless it is somehow disqualified, it’s in.
3. John Williams, The Book Thief
4. Thomas Newman, Saving Mr. Banks
5. Randy Newman, Monsters University
Or it might not look like that at all. It might look like this:
2. 12 Years a Slave
3. All is Lost
4. The Croods
It’s too early to determine what will qualify so predicting the category is a tad futile. But you the one element that you can wind your watch by – big names always count in any category, that includes Score, Costume, Sound, etc.