An exploration into music’s moving role in cinema and the most memorable music moments at the 87th Academy Awards
At the 87th Academy Awards, Julie Andrews – the ever-gracious, Oscar-winning actress for Mary Poppins – inspired this exploration when she described the extraordinarily mesmerizing and crucial role that music plays in cinema and film upon presenting the Best Original Score category.
Music paints vivid backdrops, links scattered dots, solidifies grand themes, tugs at elastic heartstrings, and elaborates on the very essence of storytelling further personified by the characters in film. Through the years, talented composers have created such iconic tunes and original scores that remain recognizable in popular culture today, from award-winning films such as The Godfather, Star Wars, Titanic, and one of my personal, indie favorites, Garden State.
Along with the countless, moving Oscar presenters, contenders, winners, and speeches across all categories, this year’s musical Oscar performances, nominees, and winners prove that music befittingly complements its cinematic counterpart in various forms and measures.
Music is My Drug of Choice’s Picks: Memorable Music Moments at Oscars 2015
- Neil Patrick Harris, Anna Kendrick, and Jack Black sang the opening number as a Broadway tune to express the ways in which movies “sometimes change our view of [things], in ways both big and small.” The same can be said about music, which oftentimes awakens our senses and souls. In the fitting words of my brother, “if film and music don’t communicate something more than just entertainment, then you’re wasting your time.”
See Oscar clip: http://oscar.go.com/embed/VDKA0_wkk6z9w6
- Adam Levine hits numerous falsetto notes “searching for meaning” amongst a star-studded stage in his performance of Best Original Song nominee, “Lost Stars” from Begin Again. The film’s equally star-studded cast – Adam Levine, Keira Knightly, Mark Ruffalo, Cee Lo Green, Mos Def and more – depicts the bonds formed between singer/songwriter and ex-record executive through the precious and awakening gift of music.
See Oscar clip: http://oscar.go.com/embed/VDKA0_raae3v96
- Jennifer Hudson, Academy Award-winner for Best Supporting Actress in Dreamgirls, vocally shined bright like a diamond in her tribute to fallen film talents who made us laugh, cry, and reflect over the years. She dusted off the notes of “I Can’t Let Go” from TV series, Smash, in which she once appeared.
See Oscar clip: http://oscar.go.com/embed/VDKA0_le63uxtw
- Glen Campbell, a legendary country music singer stricken with Alzheimer’s, is beautifully honored by Tim McGraw in his moving performance of Oscar-nominated song, “I’m Not Gonna Miss You” from Glen Campbell…I’ll Be Me. Tim is no less a country music legend himself and pays a deserving tribute to the Country Music Hall of Fame inductee.
See Oscar clip: http://oscar.go.com/embed/VDKA0_arr4niwy
- Tearful, emotional reactions gripped Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel as Lonnie Lynn (Common) and John Stephens (John Legend) inspired standing ovations for their poignant performance and winner of Best Original Song in Selma, “Glory.” They lyrically and musically affected the issues of oppression and inequality fought by MLK that still persist and pervade our society today. In their acceptance speeches, they express how the Edmund Pettus Bridge symbolizes the force of change and continued struggle for equality in all senses. In similar fashion, their song strives to reflect the words of Nina Simone, as recounted by John Legend, “‘It is an artist’s duty to reflect the times in which we live’…The struggle for justice is right now…the struggle for freedom and justice is real.”
See Oscar clip: http://oscar.go.com/embed/VDKA0_6mhrbx3g
- No one can deny the majestic medley tribute paid to Julie Andrews and The Sound of Music, by the tried-and-true, versatile Lady Gaga. Gaga has incredibly proven her Juilliard-range of musical talents across genres – from her career start in bold, statement pop, to the pivotal, jazz duo performance with Tony Bennett at this year’s 57th Grammy Awards, to the quintessence of musical theatre in her career-defining ‘Sound of Music’ medley. As I sift the headlines searching for the personally profound words shared by Andrews, I’m reminded that Gaga’s memorable performance would not play the same role were it not for the music created for her joyous film 50 years ago.
See Oscar clip: http://oscar.go.com/embed/VDKA0_x67787nx
- Alexandre Desplat, a multiple nominee for the Best Original Score category this year, musically recognized the life of Alan Turing for his invaluable roles in defeating the Nazis and the future of computing as depicted in The Imitation Game. He also emboldened Wes Anderson’s quirky, charming storytelling in The Grand Budapest Hotel, for which he won Best Original Score. He graciously accepted the award, grateful for the beautiful view inspired by the film, and recognized a beautiful decade of music offered to him in Hollywood.
See Oscar clip: http://oscar.go.com/embed/VDKA0_xehouyf1
- Of the admittedly few Oscar-nominated films I’ve seen (so far) this year, the original score in Chris Nolan’s Interstellar was unparalleled as Hans Zimmer takes us through a wondrous journey into space and galaxies far, far away in his mystical, celestial soundtrack. Its classically-inspired original score enriches the film’s many powerful themes by shedding a dreary, yet reflective, light in Matthew McConaughey’s quest to save humanity and the culminating realization that love has the unscientific power to transcend all dimensions of time and space.
These examples only scratch the surface of music’s pervasive role in the year’s cinematic contributions, but they serve a greater purpose in elucidating how music extends beyond digital screens to permeate our lives on a personal, human level – continually producing gripping, original scores that help us create, capture, understand and share life’s every timeless experience and memory. Delight yourself in the following nominees and winners for the categories, Best Original Song and Best Original Score, as you recount the highlights and memories from the 87th Academy Awards and browse the trailers (linked below) for your next movie-watching moment.
What was your favorite Oscar-music moment? Let me know in a comment below!
Oscars 2015 – Best Original Song
- Winner: “Glory” by Common and John Legend from Selma
- Nominee: “Everything Is AWESOME!!!” by Tegan and Sara featuring The Lonely Island from The Lego Movie
- Nominee: “Lost Stars” by Adam Levine and Keira Knightly from Begin Again
- Nominee: “Grateful” by Rita Ora from Beyond the Lights
- Nominee: “I’m Not Gonna Miss You” by Glen Campbell and The Wrecking Crew from Glen Campbell…I’ll Be Me
Oscars 2015 – Best Original Score
- Winner: Alexandre Desplat for The Grand Budapest Hotel
- Nominee: Alexandre Desplat for The Imitation Game
- Nominee: Johann Johannsson for The Theory of Everything
- Nominee: Gary Yershon for Mr. Turner
- Nominee: Hans Zimmer for Interstellar