Thursday Movie Picks – Oscar Winners Edition: Best Original Score and Best Original Song

For this week’s Thursday Movie Picks, run by Wandering through the Shelves, we’ve been asked to list three to five films that took home the Academy Award for either Best Original Score and Best Original Song. As usual I have my selection from films I have watched.

Best Original Score

John Williams for Jaws (1975) – Williams’ soundtrack – not least the infamous ‘Duh dum! Duh dum!’ – works so well because it adds to the thrills and suspense as well as depth and character to what is otherwise a silent antagonist.

John Williams for Star Wars (1977) – Weaving his magic once more Williams, who has won five Academy Awards out of his 52 nominations, composed a soundtrack truly befitting the epic space-opera. Many pieces are instantly recognisable and really capture the essence of what is being shown on screen.

Howard Shore for The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001) – I have heard this soundtrack more than any other and still find joy and solace in it despite my hundreds of hours worth of plays. Shore did an incredible job with all the soundtracks in the trilogy and collected the Oscar for Best Original Score again for the third and final film.

Best Original Song

‘When You Wish Upon A Star’ from Pinocchio (1940) – Multiple Disney films have taken home the Oscar for Best Original Song, including Aladdin (1992) and The Lion King (1994). ‘When You Wish Upon A Star’ is undoubtedly one of the most magical and whimsical of them all.

‘(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life’ from Dirty Dancing (1987) – I was torn between selecting this and another Eighties classic, ‘Take My Breath Away’ from Top Gun (1986). ‘(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life’ clinched it for me as it so perfectly encapsulates the story and joy of Dirty Dancing.

‘Man or Muppet’ from The Muppets (2011) – This song is an ear worm and I have often found myself on several occasions singing the chorus to myself. It makes me smile and I picture Jason Segel and Jim Parsons – as well as their muppet counterparts – every time I hear or think of it.

10 thoughts on “Thursday Movie Picks – Oscar Winners Edition: Best Original Score and Best Original Song

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  1. There for a minute I thought you were going for a John Williams theme within the theme on the score! The music cues in Jaws do so much towards setting the tension level and making it a better picture. I’ve always found it amusing that the reason the shark is such a stealth presence in the film is because the mechanical one kept malfunctioning forcing Spielberg to rely on the suggestion of menace rather than showing it. I think it taught him a valuable lesson.

    Williams provided another iconic score for Star Wars again giving it a cultural identity without even having to see the film. The initial trio are films I like but don’t love, my appreciation did increase when I caught them on their theatrical re-release. Having missed them the first time round and finally seeing them in a group while I was ill (hardly an ideal way to do so) I was underwhelmed but a friend convinced me to give the first a try when it came back for some anniversary release and I’m glad I did. They are the type of films meant for a big screen.

    I detest all the LOTR films but I won’t dwell on that, though I didn’t enjoy them I will admit they were well put together in all their technical aspects including the score.

    I LOVE that you chose When You Wish Upon a Star!! I considered it for mine paired with Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah but couldn’t decide on a third to match so moved on. It’s such a sweet memorable song. I’m sure it’s a reflection of the times as WWII was on the horizon that songs of longing and hope like this and the previous year’s winner Over the Rainbow came out on top capturing the zeitgeist of the moment.

    The Time of My Life was literally everywhere there for a while to the point that I wanted to scream or turn the channel the instant I heard the opening notes. That doesn’t make it a bad song, and it certainly made sense for the film, just oversaturated. Of course the exact same thing happened with Take My Breath Away when Top Gun was out.

    The Muppet song is sweet and fits in with the entire Muppet world but worthy on being an Oscar winner? I don’t really think so. Not that it had a lot of competition that year. A sad state of affairs when you consider how movie music used to be so plentiful that literal classics couldn’t make the cut because of the limit on number of nominations.

    I focused on the Song category for mine and even then it was tough since there was such a huge number of choices. With all those possibilities I wanted to do a theme within the theme and ended up choosing three that shared their title with the movie that earned them the award (my third got there in a bit of a roundabout way) and were also big successes musically independent of their film.

    The Way We Were (1973)-Fiery, opinionated Katie Morosky (Barbra Streisand) meets handsome goyish guy Hubbell Gardiner (Robert Redford) in college during the 30’s. While he admires her moxie and she his writing talent they move in different circles. As WWII is winding down, they meet again and despite their vast differences they fall in love and marry but those very differences eventually tear their relationship asunder. Both the film and the title tune by Marvin Hamlisch, Alan & Marilyn Bergman were gigantic hits, the Streisand’s recording of the song going to # 1 on Billboard as well as winning the Grammy as Record of the Year.

    The Days of Wine and Roses (1962)-Gut wrenching chronicle of young couple Joe & Kirsten Clay’s (Jack Lemmon & Lee Remick-both Oscar nominated) descent into blackout alcoholism. Fittingly for something so dark the title song by Henry Mancini and Johnny Mercer has a mournful quality but a soulful lilting beauty. Recorded by many artists it reached # 9 on the Billboard charts.

    The Joker is Wild aka All the Way (1957)-Joe E. Lewis (played by Frank Sinatra) was a rising singer on the Chicago nightclub scene of the Roaring Twenties until he angered a mob boss by switching clubs. In retaliation the mobster has Lewis’s throat cut, slashing his vocal cords and therefore his career. He slowly worked his way back as a comic over the next decade. Sinatra’s recording of All the Way written by Jimmy Van Heusen and Sammy Cahn was so popular (# 2 on the Billboard charts) the film was retitled to match it upon re-release.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Joel. Ah, I missed a trick not keeping it all to John Williams!

      That’s a great factoid about Jaws. A ‘happy accident’.

      I haven’t heard of either the song or the film from your picks so thanks for sharing. I really enjoying Sinatra. If I had a magical musical time machine I would have loved to have seen him live.

  2. John Williams has SO many iconic scores. Howard Shore is brilliant. It’s amazing when you hear the music and you know exactly what movie it is from. When You Wish Upon a Star… that song brings me so much nostalgia. Great picks!

  3. We match with LOTR which I love. I’m so glad you chose Jaws and Star Wars, both iconic and instantly recognizable. I am also glad you chose that Disney tune which is another one we know right away, I don’t mind Time of Your Life but never cared for the movie mainly because of Jennifer Grey and her name…Baby..blecchhh. I haven’t seen the Muppet movie but I like the song.

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