Oscar Handicap 2018: Best Score

FilmJerk.com continues its annual Oscar Handicap with yet another new (to us) category we’re tracking, Best Score.

How much does a good film score affect how you interact with a movie? I’m going to try a little experiment right now…

“Raiders of the Lost Ark.”

Chances are, you are now hearing John Williams’ Indiana Jones theme in your head. You may even be humming along. You may even be smiling as you’re humming along. And you’re now probably remembering your favorite scenes from the film. But it’s a good bet the first thing that popped in to your head was the theme, because a good theme or score stays with us long after the viewing of the movie the theme or score is based from.

(Personal anecdote: A year or two ago, my brother sent me a video of my then five year old nephew humming various Star Wars themes as he played with his toys, completely oblivious to the fact that his father was recording him. My nephew wasn’t playing with his Star Wars toys, but he was using whatever toys he has available in his reach. He hums the main Star Wars theme and the Duel of the Fates theme as he plays, for a good four or five minutes, before the kid catches on that he’s being recorded and shuts the door. But here was this adorable little red-headed five year old, who at point had only watched the movies once or twice, and he had already memorized the main motifs of these two songs.)

But enough of my yapping, let’s get to the numbers…

Actually, before we get to the numbers, we need to point out a caveat to this category’s numbers. Although there have been 39 Oscar ceremonies since our arbitrary starting point at the 51st annual Academy Awards, the Academy has from time to time expanded the Best Score category, most famously in 1995, when Disney movies scored by Alan Menkin or Hans Zimmer had won Best Score five of the previous six years, and the Academy split the award in to Best Dramatic Score and Best Musical or Comedy Score for four years, until the luster of Disney animated musicals has worn a little thin. Additionally, there have been the occasional additional award handed out for Best Song Score or Adaptation Score, which was last handed out in 1984 to the late, great Prince for “Purple Rain.” So here, we have not 39 years of straight data but 48 awards to inspect.

Now let’s get to the numbers…

The Breakdowns

1) As long as your score was not featured in the highest grosser amongst these nominees, you’ve won 41 times of the last 48 awards given out in these categories (85.4%). Advantage: Dunkirk, The Shape of Water, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri
2) If your score was also nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Score, you’ve won 36 of 48 (75%). Advantage: all films nominated this year
3) As long the film your score was featured in did not happen in the modern day, you’ve won 34 of 48 (70.8%). Advantage: Dunkirk, Phantom Thread, The Shape of Water, Star Wars: The Last Jedi
4) If the film your score was nominated for was featured in a movie also nominated for Best Picture, you’ve won here 32 of 48 (66.7%). Advantage: Dunkirk, Phantom Thread, The Shape of Water, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri
5) If your score was also nominated for a BAFTA for Best Score, you’ve won here 32 of 48 times as well (66.7%). Advantage: Dunkirk, Phantom Thread, The Shape of Water
6) If your score won the Critics Choice Award for Best Score, you’ve won here 9 of the 17 times the latter group has been giving out awards (52.9%). Advantage: The Shape of Water
7) If you are not a first time nominee in this specific category, you’ve won 24 or 48 (50%). “Advantage”: Dunkirk, The Shape of Water, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri

By the Numbers

By our estimation, it’s going to be a toss-up between a German pop star going for his second win after eleven nominations, a nine-time French nominee going for his second win and an English rock star enjoying his first-ever nomination.

Dunkirk (Hans Zimmer): +1, +2, +3, +4, +5, -6, +7 (207 of 305, 67.87%)
Phantom Thread (Jonny Greenwood): +1, +2, +3, +4, +5, -6, -7 (207 of 305, 67.87%)
The Shape of Water (Alexandre Desplat): +1, +2, +3, +4, +5, +6, +7 (208 of 305, 68.20%)
Star Wars: The Last Jedi (John Williams): -1, +2, +3, -4, -5, -6, +7 (141 of 305, 46.23%)
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (Carter Burwell): +1, +2, -3, +4, -5, -6, +7 (207 of 305, 56.07%)

Thank you for taking the time to check us out.

All articles in this series:

Best Picture of the Year
Best Director
Best Actor and Best Actress
Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress
Best Cinematography
Best Original Screenplay and Best Adapted Screenplay
Best Foreign Language Film
Best Animated Feature
Best Production Design
Best Makeup and Hairstyling
Best Editing
Best Costume Design
Best Score
Best Sound Effects and Best Sound Mixing
Best Documentary Feature
Best Visual Effects

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