Dear Jonny Greenwood,

We just drank your milkshake.


Music Branch
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science

At this rate, the 2008 Oscars are going to be most notable for what didn’t get nominated.  Oh, wait!  That’s every year!

Still, this year’s AMPAS snub-a-rama is unusual, if only for the multitude of films and artists that couldn’t even get in the running.  We’ve discussed the Foreign Film committee’s unconscionable exclusions; now, we’ve got the music branch of the Academy declaring Jonny Greenwood’s score for There Will Be Blood ineligible because “the majority of the music was not composed specifically for the film”.  Alan Menken’s also out for Enchanted, but his innocuous ditties are still eligible for Original Song.  In case you’re wondering… no, you don’t give a shit.

It’s tempting to view the Greenwood situation as yet another example of the music branch’s hostility to rock musicians (they turned up their noses at Danny Elfman until 1998’s Good Will Hunting, thus missing the composer’s astonishing prime), but they might have a point here.  While I think Greenwood’s jarring, atonal cues for Paul Thomas Anderson’s masterpiece are an indispensable piece of the film’s chafing fabric, I’ve also spoken with people who are unaware that, for example, the Brahms composition (“Concerto in D Major”) is not a Greenwood original.  If put to a general vote, Greenwood might very well win an Oscar for music he did not write.

How is this different from James Horner cannibalizing Holst?  Well, Horner was at least working a variation; Anderson, on the other hand, incorporated several cues that were not written by Greenwood.  According to the music branch, the minutes of original Greenwood compositions were fewer than the borrowed stuff; and this was sufficient to knock him out of contention.

As a Radiohead fan, I’m terribly disappointed, but I think the music branch might (gasp!) be in the right here.  If anyone wants to mount a case “agin”, I’m “fer” it.