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Did Jaws win the best score Oscar because it's a "gimmicky" score?


King Mark
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Brokeback Mountain, The Artist, Up,Grand Budapest Hotel...and countless other example. It seems "gimmicky" scores have a better chance at winning Oscars.

 

Did Jaws only win because of the shark 2 note motif instead of the more elaborate set pieces in the second half of the score that we JWfans appreciate more?

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Chance... talent...money,  drug and sex... the process to give an Oscar is very complex.

 

Bit If you are trying to say that JW didn't  deserved this oscar for Jaws, we can refer you to the ban department  of our forum.

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I think he's just saying that he would have awarded the Oscar for different reasons than the actual voters. 

 

There are few bigger fans of the maestro than King Mark, so I doubt he would ever wish away a Williams Oscar. Except maybe for his recent scores... ;)

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35 minutes ago, Bespin said:

Chance... talent...money,  drug and sex... the process to give an Oscar is very complex.

 

Bit If you are trying to say that JW didn't  deserved this oscar for Jaws, we can refer you to the ban department  of our forum.

So you're saying that John Williams slept with all of the judges and sold them cocaine? Huh, I would have never guessed that.

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4 hours ago, king mark said:

Brokeback Mountain, The Artist, Up,Grand Budapest Hotel...and countless other example. It seems "gimmicky" scores have a better chance at winning Oscars.

 

Did Jaws only win because of the shark 2 note motif instead of the more elaborate set pieces in the second half of the score that we JWfans appreciate more?

 

I hadn't thought about it before, but I bet you're right. They probably couldn't care less about the Barrel Chase music back then. 

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8 hours ago, Manakin Skywalker said:

So you're saying that John Williams slept with all of the judges and sold them cocaine? Huh, I would have never guessed that.

 

My sentence was meant to be funny.  "Talent" was the 2nd word of my enumeration. ;-)

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8 hours ago, king mark said:

Did Jaws only win because of the shark 2 note motif instead of the more elaborate set pieces in the second half of the score that we JWfans appreciate more?

I think both. Which makes it a badass score in every sense.

 

But I liked the "drug and sex" theory. Makes you wonder why JW hair loss started at a relative young age and also why he has to use a pacemaker now.

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20 minutes ago, Evil-Lyn said:

Titanic was a gimmicky score as well with its tie-in Celine Dion pop song, Enya knockoff synth vocals and then-trendy Celtic sound.

 

Was The Omen gimmicky?


It had a massive Latin chorus & scratching sounding noises. It's about as gimmicky as it gets. 

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12 hours ago, artguy360 said:

I suppose Jaws could be considered "gimmicky" because it relies on 1 trick, one simple motif, but that motif is what makes the movie scary. 

 

It's also why the general audience still remembers and recognises the score today, Oscar or not.

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How is the Brokeback Mountain score gimmicky?  We must have different definitions of the word.  I don't think solo guitar is a gimmick.  I don't even particularly care for that score, I'm just saying.

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You're confusing "gimmicky" with "iconic". Through much of the movie the score stood in for the shark and was effective, memorable and an instant classic.

 

While the other nominees may have been fine scores in their own right, Jaws was the only choice to win Best Score that year. In most years though there is no clear standout in this category.

 

The year that Brokeback won, Williams was definitely hurt by having two scores nominated.  Memoirs picked up a few technical Oscars and (in my opinion) would have won for Score as well had it not been for Munich.  I remember Williams and Yo-Yo Ma appeared on a couple late night shows performing excerpts from the score, but you know the Spielberg camp probably all voted Munich.

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2 hours ago, MrScratch said:

The year that Brokeback won, Williams was definitely hurt by having two scores nominated.  Memoirs picked up a few technical Oscars and (in my opinion) would have won for Score as well had it not been for Munich.  I remember Williams and Yo-Yo Ma appeared on a couple late night shows performing excerpts from the score, but you know the Spielberg camp probably all voted Munich.

 

Probably the worst snub of Williams' career. 13 minutes of guitar solos beating out one of the most finely crafted and complex scores Williams has written. It was more of an apology Oscar for Brokeback Mountain for snubbing the film as Best Picture. 

 

Still, Munich probably hurt his chances by splitting the votes. I wonder what'll happen if he gets dual nominated this year?

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9 hours ago, Richard said:

Of course it did! The question is: did it deserve to win, over JAWS?

 

No.

2 hours ago, MrScratch said:

he year that Brokeback won, Williams was definitely hurt by having two scores nominated.  Memoirs picked up a few technical Oscars and (in my opinion) would have won for Score as well had it not been for Munich.  I remember Williams and Yo-Yo Ma appeared on a couple late night shows performing excerpts from the score, but you know the Spielberg camp probably all voted Munich.

 

More having to do with JW having many of the statuettes already. Voters are more aware of such trivia as we might imagine and i don't think he ever stood a good chance after 'Schindler'. Now it's different, at this blblical age you could win for pure endurance.

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9 hours ago, crumbs said:

 

Probably the worst snub of Williams' career. 13 minutes of guitar solos beating out one of the most finely crafted and complex scores Williams has written. It was more of an apology Oscar for Brokeback Mountain for snubbing the film as Best Picture. 

 

Still, Munich probably hurt his chances by splitting the votes. I wonder what'll happen if he gets dual nominated this year?

 

My thinking is that Williams lost with Geisha because the film was perceived as sub-par by the academy. The four films for which Williams won an Oscar for an original score were all nominated for Best Picture (yes, that means Star Wars was), and all but Jaws were nominated for Best Director as well (and yes, that means Lucas for Star Wars too!). Clearly, the academy liked these films. Geisha, however, wasn't nominated for either Best Picture or Director, whereas Brokeback was nominated for both. So, while Geisha had a great score, it seems the academy has trouble voting for a score associated with a film they don't consider top-notch. I would also say this is why Williams probably had no real shot with TFA either, strong as the score was in many ways.

 

As for the double nomination effect, I used to think this played a role but now I think it's a fallacy. I thought this would have an impact a few years ago, when Desplat was nominated for both Grand Budapest Hotel and The Imitation Game, but I was wrong. This assumes that some academy members would have a kind of allegiance to Desplat and would be hard pressed to decide between the two. But I think what is more to the point is the perception of the film by the academy, the (to some degree subjective) strength of the score in the film, and other peripheral factors, like for example knowing that The Hateful Eight was probably Morricone's last chance to win an Oscar he should have won several times in the past. I haven't done my Oscar prediction blog posts for a few years (due to time constraints), but if I were still doing them, I would no longer consider double nominations any kind of strike against a composer.

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3 minutes ago, Ludwig said:

Geisha, however, wasn't nominated for either Best Picture or Director, whereas Brokeback was nominated for both. So, while Geisha had a great score, it seems the academy has trouble voting for a score associated with a film they don't consider top-notch.

 

This would be true of many Williams films since Schindler's, though. He's been snubbed for 25 years because they feel he's already had won enough.

 

Saving Private Ryan, Munich and Lincoln were all nominated for the trifecta (Original Score, Director & Picture). Williams lost all 3. War Horse was only nominated for Score + Picture and he lost again.

 

Different era but even Raiders was nominated in all 3 categories and lost all 3. Long story short? Fuck the Academy!

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16 minutes ago, crumbs said:

 

This would be true of many Williams films since Schindler's, though. He's been snubbed for 25 years because they feel he's already had won enough.

 

Saving Private Ryan, Munich and Lincoln were all nominated for the trifecta (Original Score, Director & Picture). Williams lost all 3. War Horse was only nominated for Score + Picture and he lost again.

 

Different era but even Raiders was nominated in all 3 categories and lost all 3. Long story short? Fuck the Academy!

 

All true. It also depends on what the competition is that year. So I don't mean to imply that if a score lost, it was always because it wasn't nominated for picture or director. But for 2005, I think that is a big part of it. When I did those Oscar prediction posts, I looked through the past 10 years of nominees for Best Original Score, and in almost every single case, there was a nomination for picture and/or director.

 

Maybe there was a feeling in 2005 that he'd won enough. Even so, if he scored a film that was hot with Oscar nominations, that feeling probably wouldn't work against him. And he hasn't really scored any such films I suppose since Schindler, has he?

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I don't think Williams needs any more Oscars.  He's doing just fine.  Let newer composers get the honor.

 

And Ludwig is correct that the Score Oscar is more about a film's awards momentum than anything to do with the quality of the score itself.

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5 hours ago, Ludwig said:

Maybe there was a feeling in 2005 that he'd won enough. Even so, if he scored a film that was hot with Oscar nominations, that feeling probably wouldn't work against him. And he hasn't really scored any such films I suppose since Schindler, has he?

 

Saving Private Ryan and Lincoln were really his two big Oscar "gets" since Schindler's List, with more than 10 nominations and both perceived in the top 2-3 contenders for Best Picture (Saving Private Ryan surely was #2 that year). He lost to Life is Beautiful and Life of Pi, and probably what made the difference was the scores in those movies had more of a colorful role. A lot of people probably didn't recall Ryan or Lincoln even had scores when the D-Day scene and DDL's performance had everyone's attention. In that sense it also probably has to do with whether or not the music is a major talking point of the film e.g. the scores in Up and Avatar both had major roles, but for most people the "Married Life" sequence was the #1 most memorable aspect in Up, while Horner ended up kinda second fiddle to the visual scope and 3D effects, as far as watercooler discussions of the film would go. 

 

I think a lot of times one scene can make the difference. I can imagine people in their heads quickly ranking "Jack, I swear" vs "Becoming a Geisha" vs Munich's WTF sex scene and it makes sense that people went for Brokeback's score when you consider that. But it should also be noted that we also have absolutely no idea what the final vote tallies were. It's tempting to look for patterns but if Memoirs had won then it would just fit into another mold. The movie won 3 other technical categories -- including Cinematography where it beat Brokeback -- and Williams would just have been seen as the flashiest, most stylish choice. 

 

The other thing is it's easy to talk about "the Academy" as if it's just one brain making a single decision...in a sense it's kind of true when you consider herd mentality and how the wind just blows in a certain way toward certain movies around Oscar time with lots of different types of buzz, but ultimately it's thousands of people voting based on their own reasons, which are often arbitrary or quirky. Every year there are articles like these that get published that anonymously interview Oscar voters about their choices. Here's a response on the 2015 scores:

 

Quote

Eliminate CarolStar Wars is the obvious one — obvious, in that I've seen it. I did not see The Hateful EightSicario was good. I liked the score of Bridge of Spies a lot.

 

My vote: Bridge of Spies

 

Ultimately I think we take the Oscars more seriously than a lot of the voters do. It's presented like a national election but you imagine actually getting these ballots every year and realizing more and more of these people are your friends. It probably just starts becoming funny. Apparently the show is even more boring to sit through in person than it is for us at home. It's just showbiz gossip, but that's why it's fun!

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Wow, that score reasoning is hilariously bad. :lol:

 

So this guy hadn't even seen or heard the eventual winner? (The Hateful Eight) And evidently, among all the films, he only really noticed the score in Bridge of Spies (so he voted for that), and seems to mostly be narrowing down things based on the films, not the scores. Wow. I wonder if that's representative of the overall voter body. If it is, then even the little weight I've been putting in the Oscars has been too much. 

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1 hour ago, Will said:

Wow, that score reasoning is hilariously bad. :lol:

 

So this guy hadn't even seen or heard the eventual winner? (The Hateful Eight) And evidently, among all the films, he only really noticed the score in Bridge of Spies (so he voted for that), and seems to mostly be narrowing down things based on the films, not the scores. Wow. I wonder if that's representative of the overall voter body. If it is, then even the little weight I've been putting in the Oscars has been too much. 

 

The thing about the Oscars is the Academy is made up of people who are established in the film industry, which I wouldn't say is necessarily the same thing as people who are interested in critiquing movies and seriously weighing their overall and individual artistic merits. Not all actors, musicians, studio executives, costume designers etc are rabid cinephiles. There might be a little more overlap with certain professions like directing, but overall it's gonna be a pretty eclectic mix of people with widely varying levels of knowledge, experience, and interest in any given category. In those anonymous ballots I posted, sometimes people abstain if they haven't seen all the films or don't know, say, the difference between sound mixing or editing, but as you can see there's nothing stopping them from voting if they want.

 

In a sense, the nominations themselves are a little more credible because those are exclusively voted on by people within that profession (actors vote for acting, musicians for vote for score/song etc) and then people in miscellaneous branches like executives or public relations only nominate for Best Picture with everyone else. The winners are another story where everybody gets to vote on everything, so the result in any category is naturally more likely to include other factors besides sheer quality evaluation.

 

Would be kind of interesting to know how many Oscars Williams would have if the music branch also exclusively chose the winners...

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Let's work backwards, on this.

To win, JAWS had to be nominated. To be nominated, JAWS had to be considered. To be considered, JAWS had to be heard.

Now, I'm not sure who gets to vote for Best Original Score, but it seems that, whatever their reasons, a lot of people voted for JAWS. I'm sure that a lot of canvassing goes on, but, after living with the score for over 42 years, I can honestly say that JW won the Oscar, because his was the best, and most effective score, heard that year. Is the two-note theme for Bruce, a gimmick? Maybe, but if it is, it's a bloody brilliant gimmick! Is the score as a whole, a gimmick? Certainly not! It's a finely crafted piece of work, that was, probably, JW's most accomplished score, up to that point. I understand that there have been some miscarriages of justice, as far as the Oscars are concerned (STAR TREK: TMP vs A LITTLE ROMANCE???!!! Wha'???!!!

:o) but JAWS did deserve to win.

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1 hour ago, mrbellamy said:

 

Not all actors, musicians, studio executives, costume designers etc are rabid cinephiles. There might be a little more overlap with certain professions like directing, but overall it's gonna be a pretty eclectic mix of people with widely varying levels of knowledge, experience, and interest in any given category. In those anonymous ballots I posted, sometimes people abstain if they haven't seen all the films or don't know, say, the difference between sound mixing or editing, but as you can see there's nothing stopping them from voting if they want.

 

Good point. I hadn't really thought about this, but it makes total sense. 

 

I find the almost post-modernist view of art taken by TGP and some others here (I'd say I agree with it as well) interesting for this case. It basically states that there's no accepted objective way to judge art for "goodness." If there's no objective way to judge it, then ultimately I suppose every single vote in something like the Academy Awards comes down to a mix of subjective reactions and personal biases. So does it really matter which biases are in the mix in a voter's decision-making? (e.g. Is there really ever a "right" choice, or "right" criteria? More provocatively, does someone who's heard a score really have any more claim to being right than someone who hasn't?) I want Williams to win the Oscar every year, but I'm not sure I can say that's because his music is objectively better than everyone else's, given that I haven't even heard many of the scores that are nominated each year. 

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Most academy members don't care about film scores like we do. They probably look at the list and think "hmm, who am I gonna vote for?"...then they see Jaws. and remember dum dum..dum dum..ok I'll vote for that. They are not voting because of Man Against Beast, Great Barrel Chase, The Shark Cage Fugue..etc..

 

I think for Star Wars and E.T., it had more to do with the music overall, because it was so in your face in the films and became classics

 

Schindler's List I'm not sure. Maybe it was just the importance of the film .The score to Jurassic Park should have been nominated and won that year

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Also , maybe  "well crafted" scores like Memoirs, Geisha,Book Thief,War Horse, Lincoln ..etc..don't win because they aren't that noticeable to the average academy members who unlike us on this MB don't live to hear the next JW score.And generally speaking most JW scores in the past 20 years have been very badly mixed so you barely hear them anyways. They are usually mixed in about 1/10th volume of Giacchino and Zimmer scores (I'm not exaggerating)

 

IMO the Williams scores that REALLY deserved to win but didn't were Superman, Raiders of the Lost Ark and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. If I have to name one sequel it has to be TESB.

 

Harry Potter just happened to be on the most unlucky year ever for Williams because LotR was there. it would have won otherwise I think. Superman and Raiders were probably composed to close to Star Wars, and too "similar" to win (bombastic brassy blockbuster scores)
 

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8 hours ago, Will said:

I find the almost post-modernist view of art taken by TGP and some others here (I'd say I agree with it as well) interesting for this case. It basically states that there's no accepted objective way to judge art for "goodness."

 

That's a post-modernist view? What?

 

8 hours ago, Will said:

If there's no objective way to judge it, then ultimately I suppose every single vote in something like the Academy Awards comes down to a mix of subjective reactions and personal biases.

 

Does it really comes as a surprise to you? Every vote is biased, one way or another.

 

8 hours ago, Will said:

I want Williams to win the Oscar every year

 

Why? He doesn't compose the best score of the year every year.

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22 hours ago, Thor said:

 

This!

 

There is nothing 'gimmicky' about it. It's a wellcrafted score that uses its main 2-note motif in an ingenious way throughout all its variations and its "play" with narrative and audience expectations. And obviously also contains a great many other pieces and cues that are organically ingrained.

 

There's rarely been a more welldeserved winner.

 

Of course, but you're preaching to the choir mate. Hence the rain of Likes you got for pointing out the obvious. Just more standard wank circle fare which seems to have taken over here, but I don't care for it. 

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Not to denigrate Thor, but...it's interesting to read such posts from a man who prefers not to listen to complete scores.

Of course, if that's all Thor wishes to listen to, then that is his choice, but it's like calling a half-read book "brilliant". How could you possibly know, if you haven't read it all? In 1975, all we had was the OST. Nowadays, we have much more. People should take advantage of that.

Yes, JAWS is a "wellcrafted' (sic) score, but to single-out Bruce's Theme, is to underestimate the score, by a very large margin.

 

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1 hour ago, Loert said:

 

Yes, almost post-modernist, because the post-modernist view would be to claim that there is no such thing as "goodness" or "greatness". I take the view that just because you can't define or articulate something easily, it doesn't mean it doesn't exist. What "greatness" is, is tricky to define - humans have been trying to articulate it for centuries, and music is one way of doing so. Personal biases do play a part, but I think it is no mere (cultural) accident that Beethoven is seen as one of the greatest composers. And similarly it is no accident that Williams, Goldsmith, and a handful of others, are seen as the masters of film scoring. They all did the best they can, they all tried to write the "greatest" music they can. So I think that the post-modernist view of rejecting "greatness" (and Truth, with a capital T) is very cynical, and personally I find it a little sad.

 

 

All the Oscar score nominees are almost always at least of a very high standard, and at that point it is inevitable that some people will pick one score because they prefer the film or style etc...But imagine if one of the scores was written by a 5-year old in the space of one hour. Ignoring that a post-modernist might reject the idea of a "high standard", could you honestly argue that you 'aren't wrong' if you say that the score by a 5-year old is "better" than a score like E.T.? If your vote is completely arbitrary then that's a conclusion which you would have to defend.

 

My point is, it's very easy to sit back in the armchair and proclaim "People like things for different subjective reasons, there is no such thing as 'good'". But if, say, Williams suddenly stopped caring so much about writing memorable melodies and supporting the film so closely, you and me would probably notice and be disappointed. And I think that's because the music wouldn't be as great. However way you look at it, you could tell a good melody from a bad melody. There is no step-by-step instruction manual on writing a good melody, but it doesn't mean that "good" melodies don't exist.

 

Perfectly said.

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14 hours ago, king mark said:

Harry Potter just happened to be on the most unlucky year ever for Williams because LotR was there. it would have won otherwise I think.

Yeah, and Shore was very lucky as 2003 was a generally weak year and he got his second Oscar. If they had known that, the 2001 Oscar would have gone to Williams.

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2004 was a real headscratcher.  Kaczmarek's Finding Neverland score was fun enough, but a little slight.  The Oscar should've gone to either Azkaban or The Village.  I would've picked the latter since JNH has yet to receive the award.

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