Oscars Music Recap: Appreciating the Best Film Scores

The time has come and the annual Academy Awards winners have been revealed. Although categories such as Best Actress and Best Picture tend to receive all the hype, we shouldn’t forget the role that music plays in guiding a film.

Story by Claire Starling

The film soundtracks nominated for “best original score” have enhanced and supported this year’s most poignant movies. “La La Land” may have taken home the award, but each of the nominees were definitely worthy contenders. 

 

“Jackie”

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Photo courtesy of Tumblr.

Jackie tells the tale of events that ensued after the assassination of our 35th president, John F. Kennedy, from the perspective of his wife, Jackie Kennedy. The film paints a picture of a dark moment in history that is heartbreaking and deferred. Intensifying this even more is the music instilled with haunting string instruments that bellow and screech. Pulling us forward and into Jackie’s suffering, we feel the eeriness that comes through with this score.

 

“Moonlight”

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Photo courtesy of Tumblr.

Moonlight won Best Picture. The score adds a much deeper dimension to the message the story communicates. Songs are filled with repetitive low piano key pitches in a classical theme. At times turbulent and other times calm, the soundtrack places us in the world of the main character, Chiron, as he grapples with the hardship of his life. A harsh environment sets the stage but the music is soft. This juxtaposition manifests itself in the sensitivity we assume Chiron feels versus the tough exterior he tries to portray to his world. The ironic choice of these soft and classical songs takes this film to another level.

 

“La La Land”

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Photo courtesy of Tumblr.

The soundtrack is etched with ever-evolving melodies and whimsy wonder. It is an ode to jazz and the power of dreams. Known for its notable original songs such as “City of Stars” and “Fools who dream,” the music from this movie resonates with many souls. The soundtrack sets the stage for this movie, weaving in and out of the screenplay. It is utterly beautiful, fun and mesmerizing. Anyone can delight in this soundtrack and it thrives even when separate from the film.

 

"Passengers"

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Photo courtesy of Tumblr.

Passengers is set in a futuristic world and the music fits this theme. Techno and mysterious, the soundtrack is consistent with feel of the film. It is a soundtrack very well done but not very memorable when compared to its contenders.

 

"Lion"

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Photo courtesy of Tumblr.

Lion is about one man’s search and the score successfully portrays this. The story follows a young boy living in India who becomes lost and is eventually adopted by an Australian family. When he grows up, he uses Google Earth to search for and find his mother back in India. The music can be celebrated for its sheer beauty and its melodies that linger much like the main character’s memories. Strings and piano work as one to piece together an all at once sorrowful and hopeful score.


Each nomination holds their own but it is La La Land that takes home the little gold statue for Best Original Score. Listen to some tracks from the scores below.