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HOW TO WIN A BEST SCORE OSCAR®

By Scott Bettencourt

Looking over the Best Score winners of the 75 years of the Academy Awards®, one finds that each one falls into at least one of these ten categories, and usually several:

BO - Major boxoffice hit
BP - Best Picture winner
EP - Epic running time; film is at least 21/2 hours long
FI - Features a foreign setting and/or indigenous music
MUS - Either a musical or a film about music (like Red Shoes, Red Violin)
PER - Period; set in the past
POP - Contains a popular song or main theme
ROM - Romance dominates the story
SFH - Science-fiction, fantasy and/or horror
TS - Based on a true story


1934
ONE NIGHT OF LOVE - Victor Schertzinger, Gus Kahn
MUS

1935
THE INFORMER - Max Steiner
FI, PER

1936
ANTHONY ADVERSE - Erich Wolfgang Korngold
FI, PER

1937
ONE HUNDRED MEN AND A GIRL - Charles Previn
MUS

1938
THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD - Erich Wolfgang Korngold
BO, FI, PER

1939
THE WIZARD OF OZ - Herbert Stothart
MUS, POP, SFH

1940
PINOCHHIO - Leigh Harline, Paul J. Smith, Ned Washington
FI, MUS, POP, SFH

1941
ALL THAT MONEY CAN BUY - Bernard Herrmann
PER, SFH

1942
NOW, VOYAGER - Max Steiner
BO, POP, ROM

1943
THE SONG OF BERNADETTE - Alfred Newman
BO, EP, FI, SFH, TS

1944
SINCE YOU WENT AWAY - Max Steiner
BO, EP

1945
SPELLBOUND - Miklos Rosza
BO, POP, ROM

1946
THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES - Hugo Friedhofer
BP, EP

1947
A DOUBLE LIFE - Miklos Rozsa
Okay, there are exceptions.

1948
THE RED SHOES - Brian Easdale
MUS, ROM

1949
THE HEIRESS - Aaron Copland
PER, ROM

1950
SUNSET BOULEVARD - Franz Waxman
ROM (I know, this one's a little shaky, but the relationship between the male and female leads is the central storyline of the movie)

1951
A PLACE IN THE SUN - Franz Waxman
BO, ROM

1952
HIGH NOON - Dmitri Tiomkin
BO, PER, POP

1953
LILI - Bronislau Kaper
FI, MUS, POP

1954
THE HIGH AND THE MIGHTY - Dimitri Tiomkin
POP

1955
LOVE IS A MANY-SPLENDORED THING - Alfred Newman
FI, PER, POP, ROM

1956
AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS - Victor Young
BO, BP, EP, FI, PER, POP

1957
THE BRDIGE ON THE RIVER KWAI - Malcolm Arnold
BP, EP, FI, PER, POP

1958
THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA - Dimitri Tiomkin
FI

1959
BEN-HUR - Miklos Rozsa
BO, BP, EP, FI, PER, SFH

1960
EXODUS - Ernest Gold
BO, EP, FI, PER, POP

1961
BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S - Henry Mancini
BO, POP, ROM

1962
LAWRENCE OF ARABIA - Maurice Jarre
BP, EP, FI, PER, POP, TS

1963
TOM JONES - John Addison
BO, BP, FI, PER

1964
MARY POPPINS - Richard M. Sherman, Robert B. Sherman
BO, FI, MUS, PER, POP, SFH

1965
DOCTOR ZHIVAGO - Maurice Jarre
BO, EP, FI, PER, POP, ROM

1966
BORN FREE - John Barry
FI, POP, TS

1967
THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE - Elmer Bernstein
MUS, PER, POP

1968
THE LION IN WINTER - John Barry
FI, PER, TS

1969
BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID - Burt Bacharach
BO, FI, PER, POP, TS

1970
LOVE STORY - Francis Lai
BO, POP, ROM

1971
SUMMER OF '42 - Michel Legrand
BO, PER, POP, ROM

1972
LIMELIGHT - Charles Chaplin, etc.
MUS

1973
THE WAY WE WERE - Marvin Hamlisch
BO, PER, POP, ROM

1974
THE GODFATHER, PART II - Nino Rota, Carmine Coppola
BP, EP, FI, PER

1975
JAWS - John Williams
BO, POP, SFH

1976
THE OMEN - Jerry Goldsmith
BO, FI, SFH

1977
STAR WARS - John Williams
BO, PER, POP, SFH

1978
MIDNIGHT EXPRESS - Giorgio Moroder
FI, TS

1979
A LITTLE ROMANCE - Georges Delerue
FI, ROM

1980
FAME - Michael Gore
MUS, POP

1981
CHARIOTS OF FIRE - Vangelis
BO, BP, FI, PER, POP, TS

1982
E.T. THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL - John Williams
BO, POP, SFH

1983
THE RIGHT STUFF - Bill Conti
EP, PER, TS

1984
A PASSAGE TO INDIA - Maurice Jarre
EP, FI, PER

1985
OUT OF AFRICA - John Barry
BO, BP, EP, FI, ROM, TS

1986
ROUND MIDNIGHT - Herbie Hancock
FI, MUS, PER

1987
THE LAST EMPEROR - Ryuichi Sakamoto, David Byrne, Cong Su
BP, EP, FI, PER, TS

1988
THE  MILAGRO BEANFIELD WAR - Dave Grusin
FI

1989
THE LITTLE MERMAID - Alan Menken
BO, MUS, PER, POP, ROM, SFH

1990
DANCES WITH WOLVES - John Barry
BO, B, EP, PER

1991
BEAUTY AND THE BEAST - Alan Menken
BO, FI, MUS, PER, POP, ROM, SFH

1992
ALADDIN - Alan Menken
BO, FI, MUS, PER, POP, SFH

1993
SCHINDLER'S LIST - John Williams
BP, EP, FI, PER, TS

1994
THE LION KING - Hans Zimmer
BO, FI, MUS, POP, SFH

1995
IL POSTINO - Luis Bacalov
FI, PER

1996
THE ENGLISH PATIENT - Gabriel Yared
BP, EP, FI, PER, ROM

1997
TITANIC - James Horner
BO, BP, EP, FI, PER, POP, ROM

1998
LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL - Nicola Piovani
FI, PER

1999
THE RED VIOLIN - John Corigliano
FI, MUS, PER

2000
CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON - Tan Dun
BO, FI, PER, ROM, SFH

2001
THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING - Howard Shore
BO, EP, FI, PER, SFH


Some of my applications of these categories may seem questionable, to say the least. For many of the older films, I don't know if they were big boxoffice hits in their time or not, so I tried to err on the side of caution.

The category of "True Stories" can be a judgment call. The English Patient is based on a real person, but the events in the film are fictional, and allegedly the real Ralph Fiennes character was Rommel's lover, and that's not the kind of romance that tends to inspire Oscar® winning scores. Similarly, Titanic is based on a historical incident but the main characters are fictional, so to my mind it's not a true story.

I tried to apply the category "Romance" only to those movies where the romance is the central element of the story, which is why Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast are romances, and Aladdin is not.

I appreciate your input. Please -- I have columns to fill.

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