John Williams Could Earn His 50th Oscar Nomination for ‘The Force Awakens’
In the event that you woke up this morning feeling great about your life and your accomplishments, now may be a good time to excuse yourself and navigate to a different, safer article. Because in today’s installment of his Variety awards column “In Contention,” writer Kris Tapley has noted that one Hollywood heavy hitter stands to collect a landmark nomination in this year’s Oscar cycle. It’s not that Meryl Streep is going to earn her kajillionth nod this year — her chances with Ricki and the Flash or Suffragette are, shall we say, slim — or that the ghost of Edith Head has returned from beyond the impeccably designed veil to earn yet another prize for her costuming talents.
No, it’s celebrated composer John Williams who stands to earn his staggering 50th, count ’em, 50th nomination at this year’s ceremony, solidifying his place as the most-nominated human being alive. (The most nominated figure of all time is some animator named Walt Disney, who racked up fifty-eight nominations prior to his death in 1966, and then one more posthumously, bringing the total count to a dizzying fifty-nine.) As the wizard behind the music of some of our most beloved films, from the Harry Potter theme to the ominous dum-dum of Jaws, Williams has amassed forty-four nods for his scoring work and then five more for Original Song. As the architect of the music for a new sci-fi adventure picture called — let me check the press materials here, one moment —War in the Stars: Awakened Forces, Williams is poised to kick that number up to a clean 5-0.
Beyond that, though, his future is anything but secured. While Williams got Oscar recognition for his work on the original trilogy of Star Wars pictures, winning the gold for his score for Episode IV, the Academy showed zero love to the man during the prequel trilogy. The Academy adheres to a confusing, arcane set of rules when determining who is and is not eligible for consideration, with many new compositions disqualified for including extended samples or reworkings of existing music. (The memory of Clint Mansell’s Black Swan score getting the heave-ho for sampling the Swan Lake themes too liberally still burns bright in the public’s collective memory.) So the question then becomes the extent to which Williams’ score for The Force Awakens will be new enough to meet the Academy standards. Judging from the music in the trailers, the instantly recognizable, almost Pavlovian brass fanfare will make an auditory appearance in the film. But to top himself, Williams will have to demonstrate that he’s still got a few tricks left up his sleeve in the Star Wars universe.
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