/Film reader Dano e-mailed me to point out that a track on the score for James Cameron’s Avatar sounds suspiciously similar to a track on the score of Glory. Of course, both films were scored by composer James Horner. I understand that composers tend to use the same instruments and tones for different dramatic beats. Horner is notorious for this, as it sounds like he borrows (or repeats) from his past filmography. But what makes this more notable is that Horner is nominated for an Academy Award for his Avatar score, in a year when a lot of other musical artists have been disqualified from nomination.
The list includes Sad Brad Karen O (of Where the Wild Things Are), T Bone Burnett (of Crazy Heart), Brian Eno (of The Lovely Bones), Carter Burwell (The Blind Side), Nicholas Hooper (Half-Blood Prince), Erran Baron Cohen (Bruno) and Jason Schwartzman (Funny People). Only 84 films qualified for consideration for a Best Score nomination, which actually makes the category the “smallest field among the 15 categories” of this year’s Oscars. And many more were disqualified from Best Original Song, including Sad Brad’s awesome track Help Yourself (for Up in the Air). The rule which disqualifies many composers states: “Scores diluted by the use of tracked themes or other preexisting music, diminished in impact by the predominant use of songs, or assembled from the music of more than one composer shall not be eligible.”
I’ve included the two musical tracks after the jump, so that you can listen to them for yourself. They are not identical, but they sound extremely similar. In a time when the Academy is disqualifying so many scores due to previous created compositions, why does this qualify? How different does a musical piece need to be to qualify?
Glory – Starts about 1:04 in:
Avatar – Starts about 0:30 in:
And here is a video someone put together showing a bunch more examples (via: ElisabethRappe):