If you weren’t one of the millions of viewers tuned in to watch the 78th annual Oscar bash last night, you missed a rather sedate evening of tasteful dresses, several pauses for nostalgic clip montages, and even a host, Jon Stewart, who never really bedazzled even if he clearly skirted a Letterman-style opening-monologue catastrophe. Stewart led the nominees, Kodak Theater audience, and ABC television viewers through a reigned-in ceremony that was perhaps appropriate for a night honoring pictures that leaned hard on the heavy topics rather than seduce movie-goers with huge production numbers and flashy special effects.
Yo-Yo Ma didn’t make it to the ceremony this year, but Itzhak Perlman was on hand once again to perform a highlight medley of the original scores nominated for “Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures”. Argentinean-born composer Gustavo Santaolalla (whose guitar prowess is heard in Osvaldo Golijov’s song-cycle Ayre) picked up the gold statuette in this category for his work on Brokeback Mountain. He beat out Dario Marianelli (Pride and Prejudice), Alberto Iglesias (The Constant Gardener), and five-time Oscar winner John Williams, who split his own vote with nods for his work on both Munich and Memoirs of a Geisha.
“Thank you so much, members of the Academy,” Santaolalla said when accepting the honor. “I’m so proud to have work[ed] on this movie Brokeback Mountain, a movie that once again showed us that love is what makes us all very similar, in spite that we can be so different.”
The three nominees for original song were each performed in full: Dolly Parton’s “Travelin’ Thru” from Transamerica, Kathleen “Bird” York and Michael Becker’s “In the Deep” from Crash, and a toned down version of Jordan Houston, Cedric Coleman, and Paul Beauregard’s “It’s Hard Out There for a Pimp” from Hustle and Flow. Houston, Coleman, and Beauregard shook up the otherwise largely unemotional event, both in their performance of the catchy if monotonous lyric and their ecstatic acceptance of their award.
In other movie music news, the 21st Annual ASCAP Film and Television Music Awards will dole out honors at a ceremony in L.A. this April. They plan to present composer Laurence Rosenthal with a “Life in Music Award” for his achievements in film and television music and Crash‘s Grammy and Emmy award-winning composer Mark Isham will take home the “Henry Mancini Award for Lifetime Achievement.”