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February 28, 2011
The Social Network, Toy Story 3 Win Oscar Music Gold
Modern synth score and traditional-style tune reflect Academy's diverse musical tastes by Jon Burlingame

HOLLYWOOD—Composers Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross won for best score, and Randy Newman for best song, at Sunday night's 83rd annual Academy Awards at the Kodak Theater.
Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross accept the Oscar for Best Score.

Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross accept the Oscar for Best Score.
Photo by Michael Yada / ©A.M.P.A.S.



Reznor, the Nine Inch Nails alt-rock auteur, and his partner Ross (The Book of Eli), composed the all-synth score for The Social Network; this was a first-time nomination and win for both. Newman, who won a decade ago for a song from Monsters Inc., was honored for his song "We Belong Together" from Toy Story 3.

Accepting his Oscar about an hour and 10 minutes into the show, Reznor said, "to be standing up here, in this company, is humbling and flattering beyond words." His co-writer Atticus Ross turned to him and said, "you're a great friend and a genius."

Their win followed a presentation, introduced by Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman, illustrating the history of Hollywood music from silent film piano to today's 5.1 surround mix. Musical director William Ross led the Oscar orchestra in a minute-long medley of themes from Star Wars, Lawrence of Arabia, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial and West Side Story (all previous Oscar winners in music categories).

Randy Newman poses with his

Randy Newman poses with his "Best Song" Oscar backstage at the Kodak Theater.
Photo by Todd Wawrychuk / ©A.M.P.A.S.

Newman's win followed performances of all four nominated songs, including the singer-songwriter rendering his Toy Story 3 song at the piano. He said he was surprised and grateful, as "my percentages aren't great" – noting that he had won only twice out of 20 nominations in the past 30 years.

On stage at two hours and 15 minutes into the ceremony, Newman drew some of the night's biggest laughs for a quip that there is now a "Randy Newman chicken" at the annual Oscar nominees luncheon, and for attempting to follow producer-director Don Mischer's plea to avoid acceptance-speech faux pas. "I want to be 'good television' so badly, as you can see," he said. "I've been on this show any number of times and I've slowed it down almost every time."

Also performing nominated songs were Mandy Moore and Zachary Levi, with composer Alan Menken at the piano, in "I See the Light" from Tangled; composer-singer A.R. Rahman and Florence Welch (of Florence & the Machine) with "If I Rise" from 127 Hours; and Gwyneth Paltrow, singing "Coming Home" from Country Strong.

The late composer John Barry, a five-time Oscar winner, led off the "in memoriam" montage of images as Celine Dion rendered Charles Chaplin's "Smile," the immortal theme from Modern Times; the editors used footage of Barry conducting in the 1968 film Deadfall. Composer publicist Ronni Chasen was also remembered.

Other musical moments of note included the use of Jerry Goldsmith's "Fanfare for Oscar" to introduce Annette Bening, who announced this year's governor's award recipients Francis Ford Coppola, Eli Wallach and Kevin Brownlow; and the show-closing appearance of the fifth-grade chorus from Staten Island's P.S. 22, singing "Over the Rainbow" from The Wizard of Oz.

Nearly all of the music nominees attended Saturday's annual champagne reception sponsored by the Society of Composers & Lyricists at the Beverly Hills home of Kojak composer John Cacavas. (Rahman explained that Dido, his lyricist on "If I Rise," was pregnant and chose not to attend.)

(Back row, left to right) Event Chairman Charles Bernstein, Hans Zimmer, Alexandre Desplat, A.R. Rahman, Atticus Ross, <i>Tangled</i> songwriters Glenn Slater and Alan Menken, SCL President Dan Foliart and John Powell. (Front row, left to right) Trent Reznor, and <i>Country Strong</i> songwriters Hillary Lindsey, Troy Verges and Tom Douglas.

(Back row, left to right) Event Chairman Charles Bernstein, Hans Zimmer, Alexandre Desplat, A.R. Rahman, Atticus Ross, Tangled songwriters Glenn Slater and Alan Menken, SCL President Dan Foliart and John Powell. (Front row, left to right) Trent Reznor, and Country Strong songwriters Hillary Lindsey, Troy Verges and Tom Douglas.
Photo by Jackie Sallow

Newman was also absent but still managed to evoke the biggest laughter of the day when event chairman Charles Bernstein said he had spoken to Newman and the songwriter sent his regrets. He was performing on Saturday in Chicago, weighed the $750 fee he was getting against attending the SCL reception, "and there was really no contest."

Inception composer Hans Zimmer embraced his friend John Powell (nominated for How to Train Your Dragon) and noted that they are now working together on Kung Fu Panda 2. Desplat (The King's Speech) also attended, having just won France's Cesar Award on Friday for his score for another 2010 film, The Ghost Writer. And Reznor said he had already delivered over two hours of music for his Social Network director David Fincher's next film, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.

©2011 Jon Burlingame
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