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Ennio Morricone, 1928-2020

July 6, 2020 1 comment

Composer Ennio Morricone died on July 6, 2020, in hospital in Rome, Italy, after suffering complications following a fall at his home, in which he broke his leg. He was 91.

Ennio Morricone was born in Rome, Italy, in November 1928. He studied at the Conservatory of the National Academy of Santa Cecilia, where he specialized in trumpet performance and composition. During the 1950s Morricone orchestrated and arranged pop songs for the RCA record label, including some for artists such as Paul Anka, Chet Baker and Mina. While working for RCA Morricone also wrote theater music and classical pieces, eventually going on to form Gruppo di Improvvisazione Nuova Consonanzsa, an avant-garde musical improvisation group considered to be one of the first experimental composers collectives.

Morricone began ghostwriting for composers such as Armando Trovajoli and Mario Nascimbene in the late 1950s, before making his credited film debut in 1961 for director Luciano Salce’s Il Federale (The Fascist). He worked almost exclusively in Italian cinema in the 1960s, but started to gain some international prominence for his work with director Sergio Leone, a former classmate, whose ‘spaghetti westerns’ starring a young American actor named Clint Eastwood became unexpected hits. A Fistful of Dollars (1964), For a Few Dollars More (1965), The Good the Bad and the Ugly (1966) and Once Upon a Time in the West (1968), as well as the Burt Reynolds vehicle Navajo Joe (1966), introduced the world to his idiosyncratic personal style, mixing a traditional orchestra with unusual percussion effects, gruff chanting voices, unusual whistles courtesy of Alessandro Alessandroni, and the soaring beauty of the voice of his friend, soprano Edda dell’Orso. These scores became hugely influential and massively popular, quickly cementing his reputation as one of Europe’s leading film composers. Read more…

IFMCA Award Winners 2019

February 20, 2020 1 comment

INTERNATIONAL FILM MUSIC CRITICS ASSOCIATION ANNOUNCES WINNERS OF 2019 IFMCA AWARDS; JOHN WILLIAMS REIGNS SUPREME WITH MULTIPLE AWARDS HONORING HIS FINAL STAR WARS SCORE, THE RISE OF SKYWALKER

FEBRUARY 20, 2020 — The International Film Music Critics Association (IFMCA) announces its list of winners for excellence in musical scoring in 2019, in the 2019 IFMCA Awards.

The award for Score of the Year goes to legendary veteran John Williams for his score for the ninth and final Star Wars film, “The Rise of Skywalker,” which concluded the sequel trilogy of adventures about the scavenger Rey, heroic former Stormtrooper Finn, and Kylo Ren, the leader of the Imperial First Order. The film is directed by J.J Abrams, and stars Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, and Adam Driver. In describing the score, IFMCA member James Southall described “The Rise of Skywalker” as ‘one last brilliant piece of musical adventure to call time on his signature work … a triumphant conclusion to an extraordinary musical saga,’ and also said that ‘it’s simply impossible to overstate Williams’s contribution to the series’ success’. The score is also named Best Original Score for a Fantasy/Science Fiction/Horror Film, while the main theme “The Rise of Skywalker” is named Film Music Composition of the Year. Read more…

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Academy Award Winners 2019

February 9, 2020 Leave a comment

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) have announced the winners of the 92nd Academy Awards, honoring the best in film in 2019.

In the Best Original Score category composer Hildur Guđnadóttir won the award for her score for the dark comic book origin story Joker, directed by Todd Phillips, and starring Joaquin Phoenix. With this win Guđnadóttir became the first female composer to win an Oscar since Anne Dudley for The Full Monty in 1997, and became the first composer in history, of any gender, to win all the big five composing awards – Oscar, Globe, Emmy, Grammy, BAFTA – in the same awards cycle. In accepting her award, Guđnadóttir said:

“Wow. This is so touching. Thank you to the Academy for welcoming me so warmly, it’s just… I don’t know what to say! My fellow nominees, masters of the craft, it’s been such an honor to get to know you all, so special. A film composer is only as creative as the dialogue with the director. Todd Phillips was so generous to invite me on this journey, and listen to me the whole way, so attentively, and I thank you for that, so deeply. And Bradley [Cooper] as well! Thank you Bradley. My family, my beautiful family, who are here with me tonight. My incredible husband Sam, my love, my best friend, my other set of ears, I’d be lost without you. My, mother, my son Cody, I can’t see you, but I love you so much! I love you. To the girls, to the women, to the mothers, to the daughters, who hear the music bubbling within: please speak up. We need to hear your voices.”

The other nominees were Alexandre Desplat for Little Women, Randy Newman for Marriage Story, Thomas Newman for 1917, and John Williams for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.

In the Best Original Song category, the winners were Elton John and Bernie Taupin for “I’m Gonna Love Me Again” from the Elton John biopic Rocketman.

The other nominees were Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez for “Into The Unknown” From Frozen II; Joshuah Brian Campbell and Cynthia Erivo for “Stand Up” from Harriet; Randy Newman for “I Can’t Let You Throw Yourself Away” from Toy Story 4; and Diane Warren for “I’m Standing With You” from Breakthrough.

IFMCA Award Nominations 2019

February 6, 2020 Leave a comment

INTERNATIONAL FILM MUSIC CRITICS ASSOCIATION AWARD NOMINATIONS ANNOUNCED; HILDUR GUÐNADÓTTIR RECIEVES FIVE NOMINATIONS; MULTIPLE NOMINATIONS FOR ALEXANDRE DESPLAT, BEAR McCREARY, THOMAS NEWMAN, JOHN WILLIAMS

FEBRUARY 6, 2020. The International Film Music Critics Association (IFMCA) announces its list of nominees for excellence in musical scoring in 2019, for the 16th annual IFMCA Awards. For the first time in IFMCA history a female composer leads the field, with Icelandic composer and cellist Hildur Guðnadóttir receiving five separate nominations for her work on the critically acclaimed comic-book drama “Joker,” and for the devastating HBO television series “Chernobyl”. These are the first nominations for Guðnadóttir, who is nominated in the categories for Film Score of the Year, Composer of the Year, Drama Score, Television Score, and Film Music Composition of the Year. IFMCA member James Southall was particularly complementary about “Joker,” describing it as having ‘complexity in its extraordinary emotional depth,’ and calling it a ‘primal’ score which ‘made him think’.

Also nominated for both Score of the Year and Composer of the Year are veteran composers Alexandre Desplat, Thomas Newman, and John Williams. French composer Desplat’s most lauded score of 2019 is the one he wrote for director Greta Gerwig’s new adaption of the classic American novel “Little Women,” which is also nominated for Drama Score. IFMCA member Jon Broxton said that the score ‘overflows with gorgeous orchestrations, sublime instrumental combinations and harmonies,’ and has ‘a dramatic sense of freedom and movement, effortless elegance, and lush emotional content’. Desplat’s other major scores in 2019 include the French drama “Adults in the Room,” the animated sequel “The Secret Life of Pets 2,” and director Roman Polanski’s look at the Dreyfus Affair of 1906 in “J’accuse”. Desplat previously won the IFMCA Score of the Year award in 2008 for “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”. Read more…

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BAFTA Winners 2019

February 2, 2020 Leave a comment

The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) have announced the winners of the 73rd British Academy Film Awards, honoring the best in film in 2019.

In the Best Original Music category, the winner was Hildur Guđnadóttir, who took home the award for her work on the dark comic book drama Joker, directed by Todd Phillips, and starring Joaquin Phoenix. With this victory Guđnadóttir became the first female winner of the award in BAFTA history. Accepting her award, Guđnadóttir said:

“Thank you BAFTA. I think my English in-laws are pretty proud of me right now, so I’d like to thank them! Joker… working on Joker was a journey of a lifetime, really, and Todd is a master for having steered that ship, and it was such an incredible, incredible honor to work on this film and create it with so many amazing artists that are here tonight who did such an incredible job, and I just really, really would like to share this with all of you. I’m such a fan of your work, and you are incredible. Thank you so much. Thank you”

The other nominees were Alexandre Desplat for Little Women, Michael Giacchino for Jojo Rabbit, Thomas Newman for 1917, and John Williams for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.

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Movie Music UK Awards 2019

January 19, 2020 2 comments

Popular opinion among the film music community has posited that 2019 was the worst year of the decade for new original scores, and while that may be the case for the majority of mainstream Hollywood, that is absolutely not the case for the wider film music world. Yet again, I have to stress that there is some absolutely tremendous film music being written out there by a plethora of young, ambitious, supremely talented composers – if only people are prepared to step from out of their comfort zones and actually seek it out.

My choices for the Scores of the Year all meet the criteria of what I believe makes for outstanding film music: rich, varied ensembles that blend orchestras with electronics, vocals, and soloists in interesting ways; compelling musical architecture which tells a story and supports the visuals in a way which draws the viewer and/or listener into the film’s narrative; inventive writing which uses different themes, interesting compositional ideas, and clever techniques; and strong emotional content which connects the audience with the film it is accompanying.

Four of my five nominees for Score of the Year are indeed from mainstream American productions – one of which is from the granddaddy of all blockbuster franchises – but as you go further and further down the list you will find several works from Asia (Japan, China, Vietnam), as well as contemporary fantasy dramas from Germany, historical biopics from Switzerland, romantic comedies from Sweden and France, historical war movies from Spain, documentaries from Romania, and animated films from all across the globe! So, without further ado, here are my choices… Read more…

Academy Award Nominations 2019

January 13, 2020 Leave a comment

oscarstatuette The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) have announced the nominations for the 92nd Academy Awards, honoring the best in film in 2019.

In the Best Original Score category, the nominees are:

  • ALEXANDRE DESPLAT for Little Women
  • HILDUR GUÐNADÓTTIR for Joker
  • RANDY NEWMAN for Marriage Story
  • THOMAS NEWMAN for 1917
  • JOHN WILLIAMS for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

This is the first Oscar nomination for Guðnadóttir, and the eleventh nomination for Desplat, who previously won for The Grand Budapest Hotel in 2014, and for The Shape of Water in 2017. The Newman cousins now have 22 nominations between them – nine for Randy, and thirteen for Thomas – but neither have previously had a Best Score win.

Incredibly, this is the 52nd Oscar nomination for John Williams, which breaks his own record for the most nominated living person, and maintains his position as the second most nominated person of all time after Walt Disney (who had 59). He previously won Academy Awards for Fiddler on the Roof in 1971, Jaws in 1975, Star Wars in 1977, E. T. The Extra-Terrestrial in 1982, and Schindler’s List in 1993.

In the Best Original Song category, the nominees are:

  • KRISTEN ANDERSON-LOPEZ and ROBERT LOPEZ for “Into the Unknown” from Frozen II
  • JOSHUAH BRIAN CAMPBELL and CYNTHIA ERIVO for “Stand Up” from Harriet
  • ELTON JOHN and BERNIE TAUPIN for “I’m Gonna Love Me Again” from Rocketman
  • RANDY NEWMAN for “I Can’t Let You Throw Yourself Away” from Toy Story 4
  • DIANE WARREN for “I’m Standing With You” from Breakthrough

The winners of the 92nd Academy Awards will be announced on February 9, 2020.

SCL Award Winners 2019

January 7, 2020 Leave a comment

The Society of Composers and Lyricists (SCL) has announced the winners of the first annual SCL Awards, honoring the best in film and television music in 2019. The SCL is the premier professional trade group for composers, lyricists, and songwriters working in the motion picture, television, and game music industry, and is headquartered in Los Angeles. The winners are:

OUTSTANDING ORIGINAL SCORE FOR A STUDIO FILM
• HILDUR GUĐNADÓTTIR for Joker

OUTSTANDING ORIGINAL SCORE FOR AN INDEPENDENT FILM
• KATHRYN BOSTIC for Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am

OUTSTANDING ORIGINAL SCORE FOR A TELEVISION OR STREAMING PRODUCTION
• HILDUR GUĐNADÓTTIR for Chernobyl

OUTSTANDING ORIGINAL SONG FOR VISUAL MEDIA
• JOSHUAH BRIAN CAMPBELL and CYNTHIA ERIVO for “Stand Up” from Harriet

OUTSTANDING ORIGINAL SCORE FOR INTERACTIVE MEDIA
• GORDY HAAB and STEPHEN BARTON for Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order

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BAFTA Nominations 2019

January 7, 2020 Leave a comment

baftaThe British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) has announced the nominations for the 73rd British Academy Film Awards, honoring the best in film in 2019.

In the Best Original Music category, which is named in memory of the film director Anthony Asquith, the nominees are:

  • ALEXANDRE DESPLAT for Little Women
  • MICHAEL GIACCHINO for Jojo Rabbit
  • HILDUR GUĐNADÓTTIR for Joker
  • THOMAS NEWMAN for 1917
  • JOHN WILLIAMS for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

This is the tenth BAFTA nomination for Desplat, who won for “The King’s Speech” in 2010, “The Grand Budapest Hotel” in 2014, and “The Shape of Water” in 2018; the second nomination for Giacchino, who previously won for “Up” in 2009; and the seventh nomination for Newman, who won for “American Beauty” in 1999 and “Skyfall” in 2012. It is the first nomination for Guđnadóttir.

The nomination for The Rise of Skywalker marks the the eighteenth nomination for Williams, who has seven previous BAFTAs for “Jaws” in 1975, “Star Wars” in 1978, “The Empire Strikes Back” in 1980, “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial” in 1982, “Empire of the Sun” in 1988, “Schindler’s List” in 1993, and “Memoirs of a Geisha” in 2005, and further increased his standing as the most-nominated composer in BAFTA history.

The winners of the 73rd BAFTA Awards will be announced on 2 February, 2020.

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Golden Globe Winners 2019

January 5, 2020 Leave a comment

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) have announced the winners of the 77th Golden Globe Awards, honoring the best in film and American television of 2019.

In the Best Original Score category composer Hildur Guđnadóttir won the award for her challenging score for the comic book action-drama film Joker, a revisionist look at the origin story of Batman’s arch-nemesis. This is Guđnadóttir’s first Golden Globe, and in winning the award becomes the first solo female composer to win Best Score. The only other female composer to win was Lisa Gerrard, who shared the award for Gladiator with Hans Zimmer in 2000. In her acceptance speech, Guđnadóttir said:

“Wow. I thought they forgot the music! Well, this is truly… I’m speechless. This is unbelievable. Thank you Hollywood Foreign Press. Thank you Todd (Phillips) for inviting me on the journey of a lifetime, for all the trust and faith and your openness. Thank you, Joaquin (Phoenix) for making my job really easy with a spectacular, unbelievable performance. It’s mindblowing. Thank you Jason Ruder, music editor, for your fantastic job. Truly incredible. Conductor Jeff Atmajian. My brothers Gunnartin, Asthor, and Gunnarsson. My agent Patty, of course. My incredible family, and my mother, my husband and score producer Sam, my beautiful son Cody. That’s everything!”

The other nominees were Alexandre Desplat for Little Women, Randy Newman for Marriage Story, Thomas Newman for 1917, and Daniel Pemberton for Motherless Brooklyn

In the Best Original Song category, the winners were Elton John and Bernie Taupin for their song “I’m Gonna Love Me Again” from Rocketman, the biopic of John’s life starring Taron Egerton.

The other nominees were Cynthia Erivo and Joshuah Brian Campbell for “Stand Up” from Harriet; Beyoncé Knowles-Carter, Timothy McKenzie, and Ilya Salmanzadeh for “Spirit” from The Lion King; Robert Lopez and Kristin Anderson-Lopez for “Into the Unknown” from Frozen II; and Taylor Swift and Andrew Lloyd Webber for “Beautiful Ghosts” from Cats.

Golden Globe Nominations 2019

December 9, 2019 Leave a comment

goldenglobeThe Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) has announced the nominations for the 77th Golden Globe Awards, honoring the best in film and American television of 2019.

In the Best Original Score category, the nominees are:

  • ALEXANDRE DESPLAT for Little Women
  • HILDUR GUĐNADÓTTIR for Joker
  • RANDY NEWMAN for Marriage Story
  • THOMAS NEWMAN for 1917
  • DANIEL PEMBERTON for Motherless Brooklyn

This is the first Golden Globe nomination for Guđnadóttir, and the first nomination for a solo female composer at the Globes since Rachel Portman’s nomination for Chocolat in 2000. This is the 11th nomination for Desplat, who previously won the Globe for The Painted Veil in 2006 and The Shape of Water in 2017; the third nomination for Randy Newman; the second nomination for Thomas Newman; and the second nomination for Pemberton.

In the Best Original Song category, the nominees are:

  • CYNTHIA ERIVO and JOSHUAH BRIAN CAMPBELL for “Stand Up” from Harriet
  • ELTON JOHN and BERNIE TAUPIN for “I’m Gonna Love Me Again” from Rocketman
  • BEYONCÉ KNOWLES-CARTER, TIMOTHY McKENZIE and ILYA SALMANZADEH for “Spirit” from The Lion King
  • ROBERT LOPEZ and KRISTIN ANDERSON-LOPEZ for “Into the Unknown” from Frozen II
  • TAYLOR SWIFT and ANDREW LLOYD WEBBER for “Beautiful Ghosts” from Cats

The winners of the 77th Golden Globe Awards will be announced on January 5, 2020.

SCL Award Nominations 2019

December 3, 2019 Leave a comment

The Society of Composers and Lyricists (SCL) has announced the nominations for the first annual SCL Awards, honoring the best in film and television music in 2019. The SCL is the premier professional trade group for composers, lyricists, and songwriters working in the motion picture, television, and game music industry, and is headquartered in Los Angeles. The nominees are:

OUTSTANDING ORIGINAL SCORE FOR A STUDIO FILM

  • MICHAEL ABELS for Us
  • MICHAEL GIACCHINO for Jojo Rabbit
  • HILDUR GUĐNADÓTTIR for Joker
  • JOHN POWELL for How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World
  • ALAN SILVESTRI for Avengers: Endgame

OUTSTANDING ORIGINAL SCORE FOR AN INDEPENDENT FILM

  • JEFF BEAL for Biggest Little Farm
  • KATHRYN BOSTIC for Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am
  • ALBERTO IGLESIAS for Pain & Glory
  • HOWARD SHORE for The Song of Names
  • GABRIEL YARED for Judy

OUTSTANDING ORIGINAL SCORE FOR A TELEVISION OR STREAMING PRODUCTION

  • KRIS BOWERS for When They See Us
  • NICHOLAS BRITELL for Succession
  • KYLE DIXON and MICHAEL STEIN for Stranger Things
  • HILDUR GUĐNADÓTTIR for Chernobyl
  • TRENT REZNOR and ATTICUS ROSS for Watchmen
  • ADAM TAYLOR for The Handmaid’s Tale

OUTSTANDING ORIGINAL SONG FOR VISUAL MEDIA

  • KRISTIN ANDERSON-LOPEZ and ROBERT LOPEZ for “Into the Unknown” from Frozen 2
  • KATHRYN BOSTIC for “High Above the Water” from Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am
  • JOSHUAH BRIAN CAMPBELL and CYNTHIA ERIVO for “Stand Up” from Harriet
  • ALAN MENKEN, BENJ PASEK, and JUSTIN PAUL for “Speechless” from Aladdin
  • DIANE WARREN for “I’m Standing With You” from Breakthrough

OUTSTANDING ORIGINAL SCORE FOR INTERACTIVE MEDIA

  • NEAL ACREE for Rend
  • GORDY HAAB and STEPHEN BARTON for Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order
  • AUSTIN WINTORY for Erica

The winners of the 1st SCL Awards will be announced on 7 January, 2020.

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Academy Award Winners 2018

February 24, 2019 Leave a comment

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) have announced the winners of the 91st Academy Awards, honoring the best in film in 2018.

In the Best Original Score category composer Ludwig Göransson won the award for his score for the box office blockbuster Marvel super hero movie Black Panther. In accepting his award, Göransson said:

“Um, wow. Thank you, Ryan Coogler. Ryan… Ryan, working with you has been an incredible honor. I remember twelve years ago we were sitting in our dorm at USC writing the score for your first short film, and we’re here twelve years later, you know, celebrating one of the most important cinematic moments in history. I want to share this award with all the incredible African artists I worked with on the score – Baba Maal, Massamba Diop, Magatte Saw – and all the classical musicians in London that recorded on the score. And everyone… I also want to share this award with my mom, and dad, and sister – they insisted I play guitar- and my wife Serena, I love you so much. Thank you!”

The other nominees were Terence Blanchard for Blackkklansman, Nicholas Britell for If Beale Street Could Talk, Alexandre Desplat for Isle of Dogs, and Marc Shaiman for Mary Poppins Returns.

In the Best Original Song category, the winners were Stefani Germanotta (Lady Gaga), Mark Ronson, Anthony Rossomando, and Andrew Wyatt for “Shallow” from A Star is Born.

The other nominees were Kendrick Lamar Duckworth, Mark Spears (Sounwave), Anthony Tiffith, and Solana Rowe (SZA) for “All the Stars” from Black Panther; David Rawlings and Gillian Welch for “When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings” from The Ballad of Buster Scruggs; Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman for “The Place Where Lost Things Go” from Mary Poppins Returns; and Diane Warren for “I’ll Fight” from RGB.

IFMCA Award Winners 2018

February 21, 2019 Leave a comment

INTERNATIONAL FILM MUSIC CRITICS ASSOCIATION ANNOUNCES WINNERS OF 2018 IFMCA AWARDS; “SOLO” TAKES SCORE OF THE YEAR, MULTIPLE WINS FOR JOHN POWELL, JAMES NEWTON HOWARD

The International Film Music Critics Association (IFMCA) announces its list of winners for excellence in musical scoring in 2018, in the 2018 IFMCA Awards.

The award for Score of the Year goes to British composer John Powell for his score for the Star Wars spin-off story “Solo,” which looked at the early life of the legendary rogue and intergalactic smuggler Han Solo. The film was directed by Ron Howard, and starred Alden Ehrenreich, Emilia Clarke, and Donald Glover. In describing the score, IFMCA members Asier Senarriaga and Óscar Giménez called Solo “a spectacular score that combines the classic ideas of Williams with the talent of Powell,” and proclaimed it “the score of the year,” while IFMCA member Jon Broxton – speaking about the score’s multitude of recurring character themes – said that the way Powell “incorporates all the thematic complexity into his score is masterful, but best of all is the way he allows them to develop organically; this is not just a rigid leitmotif score where mathematics trumps emotion. Instead, Powell engages in sensible and appropriate development, meaning that when the emotional outbursts do come, they pack a real wallop, and satisfy both the heart and the brain in equal measure.” Read more…

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BAFTA Winners 2018

February 10, 2019 Leave a comment

The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) have announced the winners of the 72nd British Academy Film Awards, honoring the best in film in 2018.

In the Best Original Music category, the winners were Bradley Cooper, Stefani Germanotta (Lady Gaga), and Lukas Nelson, for their collection of original songs written for the musical drama film A Star is Born. BAFTA is different from other awards bodies, in that their music award specifically includes song scores, adaptation scores, and expert use of classical music alongside original scores, and the award is for in an overarching ‘best use of music in film.’ Cooper, who also co-wrote, directed, produced, and co-starred in the film, accepted the award, saying:

“Thank you BAFTA. Wow, I got to fulfill a dream that I never thought would ever happen, to compose and arrange music, and I got to do it with the greatest musicians in the world – Lady Gaga and Lukas Nelson, who I share this with tonight. This music was the heartbeat of the film, and we had so much help from people all over the country. Brandi Carlisle, Mark Ronson, Hillary Lindsey, Jason Ruder and the whole sound team, Steve Morrow, Alan Murray, it wouldn’t have sounded like that without you. Ben Rice at the Village Studios in Santa Monica. The engineers. Most of all I have to thank Irina [Shayk], for putting up with me, for all the music I was trying to make in our basement for a year. Thank you very much, thank you.”

The other nominees were Terence Blanchard for Blackkklansman, Nicholas Britell for If Beale Street Could Talk, Alexandre Desplat for Isle of Dogs, and Marc Shaiman for Mary Poppins Returns.

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