Official Nominations: Midnight Express. The Boys From Brazil. Days Of Heaven. Heaven Can Wait. Superman. The Buddy Holly Story. The Wiz. Pretty Baby.
After last year’s bonanza, John Williams only received a single meagre nomination this time around. Superman is another classic with several rousing themes which go hand in hand with any discussion or review of the movie. Midnight Express was one of the official winners this year, Giorgio Morodor introducing movie audiences to the joys of synths. It’s a weird one – ranging from fast tracks which sound more like a cheesy action movie and love themes which now feel dated. It still feels like a worthy win, though I never feel any of the music evokes any of the horror, despair, or feeling of the movie. The Boys From Brazil probably sounded incredibly old fashioned alongside Morodor’s new-fangled beast, with its waltzes and strings – some good pieces but lacks that core theme.
Another yearly stalwart in this category is of course Ennio Morricone – his work on Malick’s Days of Heaven is ridiculously his first official nomination. Heaven Can Wait seems to have received nominations all over the place – we know The Academy loves Warren Beatty – but they apparently went overboard this year. It does have a memorable lead theme, but I find it veers too close to cheesy daytime soap. The Buddy Holly Story was the other official winner this year – as you would expect it features plenty of early rock’n’roll hits. The Wiz is your everyday African American Adaptation of The Wizard Of Oz featuring Michael Jackson and friends. It’s not really like anything else you’ll ever see. Quincy Jones brings the noise and while he, Ross, and Jackson had all and would later make better music, it’s still interesting and has some good moments. Finally, Pretty Baby is the one film here most people won’t remember, odd given that it’s Louis Malle directing Brooke Shields as a young girl working in a whorehouse. The soundtrack is essentially all Ragtime stuff which I’m not a huge fan of.
My Winner: Superman
My Nominations: Superman. Days Of Heaven. Midnight Express. Jaws 2. Grease. Halloween. American Hot Wax. Big Wednesday. Dawn Of The Dead. Damien: Omen 2. I Wanna To Hold Your Hand. Animal House.
Seriously people – if Pretty Baby and The Buddy Holly Story are getting nominations here, there’s no way Grease should not be nominated. I’m not a huge fan of the film, but its songs and its music are part of our culture much more than most of the films nominated. It was the highest grossing film of the year, one of the biggest selling soundtracks ever, and with some of the most famous movie songs ever – there’s no way it doesn’t get a nomination. Although it’s long forgotten, if we’re including soundtracks on the strength of their songs then we have to include American Hot Wax – it ain’t American Graffiti, but it ain’t far off. While we’re on the subject, we have to also include I Wanna To Hold Your Hand for all those Beatles songs. And Animal House too. Jeepers.
Here’s an interesting one – I picked Jaws as my winner when it was released but I think Jaws 2 is the better score. It has everything the first one had, but some inspired additional pieces too. I’m not sure I can pick it as winner though given that so much was created for the original. Sticking with horror sequels, and Goldsmith’s work on The Omen 2, while not as effective or creepy as the first one still does enough to be worthy of another nomination. Halloween kick started a hundred horror clichés, music and musical cues among them – Carpenter’s score is one of the best horror scores ever with chilling themes which evoke not only the era but the timeless nature of the season. Speaking of timeless horror soundtracks and we have Dawn Of The Dead – much lesser known outside of horror circles than Carpenter’s work, but Goblin’s score is beloved by everyone inside the genre.
Basil Poledouris is one of the most underrated composers in history and sadly passed away without a single Academy nomination. We change that now, with his work in Big Wednesday much softer and nostalgic than his later work yet no less notable. As you may know, Jerry Goldsmith was on a roll this year – along with The Omen 2 and The Boys From Brazil, he did Coma, Capricorn One, Swarm, and Magic, the last of which is creepy and dramatic enough to earn a nomination from me.
My Winner: Halloween
Let us know your winner in the comments!