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Stodgy Academy Curmudgeons Kill Birdman's Best Score Ambitions

By Kristy Puchko | Industry | December 24, 2014 |

By Kristy Puchko | Industry | December 24, 2014 |

Birdman is one of the most talked about films of the year with one of the most raved about scores of the year, thanks to the critically honored compositions of Antonio Sanchez. Yet, when the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences revealed the 114 potential nominees for Best Score, the Michael Keaton vehicle with the inventive drum-heavy soundtrack was nowhere to be seen.

Deadline reports Birdman director—backed by Fox Searchlight—asked the Music Branch Executive Committee to reconsider Sanchez’s score. But even sending further proof that the composer was heavily involved with the film from its early stages, that he was onset overseeing live performances caught on film, and submitting paperwork proving his use of musical cues, Oscar shot down Birdman.

The disqualification rule cited claims, “scores diluted by use of tracked themes or other pre-existing music, diminished in impact by the predominant use of songs, or assembled from the music of more than one composer shall not be eligible.” What’s perplexing is that this doesn’t seem to address the issue that the Music Branch Executive Committee had with Birdman’s score. Officially, they claim that Sanchez—despite evidence to the contrary—didn’t use “classical musical cues.” However, it’s suspected this reveals the Academy’s shortsighted bias against scores that do not feature more traditional, orchestral constructions.

But hey, Sanchez, don’t feel bad! This committee acknowledged their decision had nothing to do with the quality of your work, which they called “superb.” So…that’s something (stupid).

So what can win an Oscar in the ceremony next February? Well, the final contenders will be announced next month. But the possibilities include everything from that atrocious horror movie Annabelle, to big blockbuster fare like Captain America: The Winter Soldier, to kid stuff Dolphin Tale 2 and the critically heralded Gone Girl. Just no Birdman.


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Kristy Puchko is the managing editor of Pajiba. You can follow her on Twitter.