Setting An Oscar Record

John Williams

today surpassed the late Alfred Newman for most career Oscar nominations for film scores. Williams has two scores in the running this year, War Horse and The Adventures OfTintin, bringing his career total to 42. Williams received his first nomination for Best Score in 1967. Newman amassed 41 nominations for scores, from 1938 to 1970. That last nomination was posthumous: Newman, the uncle of Randy Newman, died in 1970.

Williams faces three foreign-born composers: France's Ludovic Bource, for The Artist; Canada's Howard Shore, for Hugo; and Spain's Alberto Iglesias, for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. This is the first score nomination for Bource; the third for both Shore and Iglesias. Shore won for scoring two installments in The Lord Of The Rings franchise. Iglesias was nominated for scoring The Constant Gardener and The Kite Runner.

Williams has received a total of 47 Oscar nominations (counting five nominations in the Best Song category). Only one individual in film history, Walt Disney, has amassed more. Disney amassed 59 nominations between 1931/32 and 1968. That last nomination was posthumous: Disney died in 1966.

Just two songs are vying for Best Song this year, which is the lowest number of finalists in the category since it was introduced in 1934. The previous low was three nominees. This year's finalists are "Man Or Muppet" from The Muppets and "Real In Rio" from Rio. Bret McKenzie from the Grammy-winning comedy duo Flight Of TheConchords wrote "Man Or Muppet." Sergio Mendes and CarlinhosBrown co-wrote "Real In Rio" with Siedah Garrett.

"Man Or Muppet" is the third song from a Muppet movie to receive an Oscar nomination. It follows "The Rainbow Connection" from 1979's The Muppet Movie and "The First Time It Happens" from 1981's The Great Muppet Caper.

This is the first nomination for Mendes, whose Sergio Mendes & Brasil '66 performed the nominated "The Look Of Love" on the Oscars in April 1968. Two months later, the song became a top five hit for the ensemble.

This is Garrett's second nomination. She was nominated five years ago for co-writing "Love You I Do" from Dreamgirls. Garrett is probably still best known for her work on two Michael Jackson hits from Bad. She was featured on "I Just Can't Stop Loving You" and co-wrote "Man In The Mirror."

The Best Song nominees, like the Best Score nominees, have an international quality. McKenzie is from New Zealand. Mendes and Brown were both born in Brazil.

Trent Reznor

and Atticus Ross, who won an Oscar last year for their score to The SocialNetwork, were passed over for their score to director David Fincher's follow-up movie, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.

Likewise, all five of the songs that were nominated for Golden Globes were passed over for Best Song: "Masterpiece" from W.E. (co-written by Madonna), "The Living Proof" from The Help (co-written by Mary J. Blige), "Hello Hello" from Gnomeo & Juliet (co-written by Elton John), "Lay Your Head Down" from Albert Nobbs (co-written by Glenn Close) and "The Keeper" from Machine Gun Preacher (written by Chris Cornell).

Other notable songs that were passed over in the Oscar balloting include "So Long" from Winnie The Pooh (written by Zooey Deschanel), "Where The River Goes" from Footloose (co-written by Zac Brown) and "Born To Be Somebody" from Justin Bieber: Never Say Never (written by Diane Warren).

I believe the Academy has erred in cutting back on the number of Best Song nominees. The Academy should seek to encourage songwriters to write for film. By cutting back on the number of nominees, they are unwittingly discouraging this. You usually get better results by being generous of spirit, rather than by being tight and stingy. The Academy is being notably tight and stingy.