Sunday, February 27, 2011
Oscar Scores and Picks 2011
What score and who will score at the Oscars this year?
This year, in advance of the Academy Awards, I would like to focus on two races that have captivated me this year: Best Score and Best Picture.
First, let's cue the orchestra. I believe that music stirs the soul - and as a blog focused on the spirituality of the movies today, I think the musical compostions nominated for Best Score need a little spotlight. A category that is often overlooked, this award highlights the undercurrent of emotion, excitement, and drama which can tie a film together and punctuate the acting, direction, and cinematography.
In the past year, there were a number of good soundtracks, but the five that have filled the Academy's nomination slate give five distinct ways to touch the soul: John Powell's piece for "How To Train Your Dragon" was electrifying, making the viewer feel like the wind was blowing through their face; A.R. Rahman's score for "127 Hours" hauntingly captured the solitude and barreness that the movie portrayed; Alexandre Desplat's simple, flowing take on "The King's Speech" reminded us that despite being king, George VI suffered like any other man with a speech impediment; Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross' soundtrack to "The Social Network" was technologically creative, yet with an undercurrent of manipulation and growing frustration, which embodies the creation of Facebook; and Hans Zimmer's intense musical cues in "Inception" complimented the film's journey into the depths of the human mind and its complex dreamscapes.
Each score touched the soul in a unique way - from loneliness to intensity and from simplicity to technologically complex - making it more difficult to pin down one for the best of the year. One way to make a decision is to look at which breaks new ground, where no score has gone before. With that in mind, my pick goes to Reznor and Ross for showing us what the score of our digital age might sound like. As we wrestle with technology and its application in our lives, this score allows us to think and pray on how we might use our viral resources for the good - while still being cautious about navigating our relationship with God and with others in the world beyond the screen.
As for Best Picture, it boils down to a competition between the head, the heart, the memories, and the gut. Of the list, the four movies that moved me spiritually in four distinct ways were "The Social Network," "The King's Speech," "Toy Story 3," and "Inception."
"Social Network" made me think about my relationships in a Google world. "King's Speech" touched my heart with its stroy of triumph over stuggle. "Toy Story 3" was nostalgic for years gone by. And "Inception" mezmorized and excited me about the depths of my dreams and the way to create a whole new idea. Like the soundtracks, each film challenged me to find God in each of those four areas of life: technology, struggle, memory, and dreams/visions.
Each is important for me - but the area that I need to work on most in the future is how I handle the frustrations of life - and "King's Speech" gave a heartfelt response to handicaps and personal difficulties. While I will always be conscious of spirituality of a digital world, my own past, and my visions for the future, those are not where I need to spend time in prayer. For me, it is how to handle life's struggles - and with that, I will be pulling just a tad more for the incredibly well-performed tale of the king and his speech therapist.
On all the other races, I have some picks and favorites - but these are the two that have occupied my prayer this season. Blessings on all the nominees for their craft, their creativity, and their work to make us laugh, cry, think, and yes... even draw closer to God.