Best Original Score
Three of the five nominees can be easily ruled out. Jay and I have both commented on Hans Zimmer’s score for Interstellar, which I found so over-bearing that it even drowned out some of the dialogue. Trent Reznor has already been sufficiently honoured for his collaborations with Gone Girl director David Fincher, which worked even better in the Social Network. Alexandre Desplat is nominated for his forgettable score for The Imitation Game when he should have been nominated for his work on The Grand Budapest Hotel, which set the mood perfectly for Wes Anderson’s unique vision. That leaves Birdman and The Theory of Everything. Antonio Sanchez’s out of control percussion-heavy score was one of many elements of Birdman that kept me off balance. Sanchez deserves high praise for thinking outside the box and contributing to the uneasiness I felt watching the film. Jóhann Jóhannsson’s much more conventional music in The Theory of Everything moved me so much that it gets my vote though, inspiring me to ponder the endless possibilities in an infinite universe.
Best Original Song
I try and judge these songs on how well they fit with the movie that they’re written for and how well they add to the experience of watching it. So I won’t comment on the song if I haven’t seen the movie. Sounds fair, right? Unfortunately, that rules out three of this year’s nominated songs. I haven’t yet seen Annie, Noah, or Mockinjay, having prioritized seeing movies with more than one or two nominations. Lucky for me, narrowing it down to my remaining two choices makes it easy. Lana del Rey’s mysterious sound is wasted in the otherwise ordinary Big Eyes. Selma, on the other hand, ends on a high note that is so empowering, they could have played Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It through the closing credits and I still would have been choked up as I left the theater but, luckily, they played an original song from John Legend and Common instead. The movie isn’t over until the song has finished playing, with lyrics that bring us back to present struggles, challenging us to look to the future. I can’t imagine anything else winning.