Oscar’s Music Masters

The gifted and prolific Alexandre Desplat, whose scores this year alone include Fantastic Mr. Fox, A Prophet, Coco Before Chanel, Julie & Julia, and The Twilight Saga: New Moon, poses with Academy music branch governor Arthur Hamilton, whose many songs include the standard “Cry Me a River.”

One of the most enjoyable events of the Oscar season isn’t a high-profile media event. It’s a party held at a private home in Beverly Hills by the Society of Composers and Lyricists. Virtually every nominee for Best Song and Score turns up for this annual gathering of music industry professionals.

The party is informal and offers fans like me a chance to schmooze with composers and songwriters I admire…but, as it turns out, that’s what the guests of honor do, too.

Disney legend Richard M. Sherman (Mary Poppins) poses with Pixar favorite Randy Newman (Toy Story), whose score for The Princess and the Frog yielded two Oscar-nominated songs this year.

During a brief ceremony in which SCL President Dan Foliart singled out this year’s Oscar nominees, Nine creator Maury Yeston referred to Randy Newman as “a living national treasure,” and Up composer Michael Giacchino told fellow nominee James Horner, “You don’t know it, but you scored all of my 8mm movies.”

Oscar-winner Hans Zimmer said the joy of working on Sherlock Holmes, which earned him his latest nomination, was getting to work with great Los Angeles musicians, and he expressed the hope that all of those present could continue to do so.

As with other specialized fields within the world of filmmaking, there is a film music community, and that feeling of shared experience is what makes this party so special. Event Chair Charles Bernstein takes great (and justifiable) pride in this gathering, which brings veterans and newcomers together in a congenial setting. I paired up some of the guests for a couple of snapshots I hope you’ll enjoy.

One other moment from the busy pre-Oscar weekend worth noting: at the Publicists Guild Luncheon on Friday, Ernest Borgnine was given a special recognition. He won his Best Actor Oscar (for the unforgettable Marty) more than half a century ago, but he’s not slowing down: he has two feature films in post-production and is about to start shooting another next week. We should all be so vital at age 93!

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