Kate Atherton writes for Bleeding Cool:
Variety has revealed that the scores of four movies will not be allowed to compete for the Best Score category at the Academy Awards in February. The movies in question are Black Swan, True Grit, The Kids are All Right and The Fighter.
The scores of Black Swan (Clint Mansell) and True Grit (Carter Burwell)* in particular have attracted considerable attention amongst audiences and critics alike. However, while both scores are original the former includes snippets of Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake, not surprisingly; meanwhile True Grit makes use of 19th-century protestant hymns. The scores of Kids Are All Right and The Fighter use songs, rendering both insufficiently original for the Academy's rules.
Mansell and Burwell are now paying the price for enhancing their scores with music evocative of past times. This is not unusual as any regular moviegoer will know (think Inception). Variety also notes that the score for The King's Speech by Alexandre Desplat also incorporates classical music moments, but in this case the score was allowed.
The Academy's strict rules were also apparent in 2009 when The Dark Knight's soundtrack was disqualified for having too many composers named on the scoresheet.
The category of Best Song has also caused controversy in the past, with composers obliged to prove that songs have been written entirely for the film in question, and not left over from album recording sessions. U2's Winter, used for Brothers, is a much-discussed example from last year.
One hopes that composers will continue to create scores that catch the imaginations of moviegoers and will not be influenced by the Academy's stringent rules. It is a shame, though, that the best of these may be automatically disqualified from recognition at awards time.
*Editor's note: You can listen to the True Grit soundtrack online. It's good.