This award was last presented at the 57th Academy Awards, currently held by Purple Rain. What would it take for this category to be activated? Which films are eligible? I could only think of La La Land and Sing Street. Any thoughts?
Actually, a variation of it was created from 1995-1998 (“Musical or Comedy Score”) as response to Disney winning 4 of the 6 consecutive score awards for MERMAID/BEAUTY/ALADDIN/LION. The thinking was that even though the underscore was technically being recognized, most people were voting for the song scores, which all scooped up parallel Oscars in the Song category. The decision seemed sound with POCAHONTAS doing the exact same thing the very first year, but after that, this Disney Silver Age subsided and the additional category seemed extraneous again.
Interestingly, the only two times a female composer won an Oscar by herself (rather than as a team or collaborator) in the Score category was when this split occurred: Rachel Portman (EMMA) and Anne Dudley (THE FULL MONTY). None has won since and no woman has even been nominated this century.
Certainly, this year’s eligible films would include MOANA and POP STAR (the latter, with some genuinely hilarious tunes), but therein likes the problem: a dearth of real contenders in the category. That’s why the category will likely never reemerge — because there isn’t enough original song score material being written. Even animated features like TROLLS or SING rely as much on familiar songs as original ones, which would likely be disqualifying, given how hardline the branch has become about those kinds of musical elements.
None has won since and no woman has even been nominated this century.
Unless you count Rachel Portman for Chocolat, whose actual nomination occurred in 2001. The year 2000, though, was not the start of the 21st Century as most people believe.
Hopefully Mica Levi will break that trend this year.