Seven of the eight Best Picture nominees are predicted to win at least one Oscar but “Black Panther” is on the bubble of several categories, sitting in second place in Costume Design and Production Design, for example. Which of its seven Academy Awards nominations does this 18th installment Marvel Cinema Universe (MCU) deserve to win the most? Well, here’s this writer’s opinion: Best Original Score.
Ludwig Goransson is red-hot right now following his triumph at the Grammys for Best Score Soundtrack For Visual Media. He also shared in wins for Record of the Year and Song of the Year for Childish Gambino’s “This is America.”
Like the costume and production design in “Black Panther,” his score mixes several elements and inspirations to create one very unique sound. It’s certainly the best score ever created for the MCU. In tracks like “Wakanda,” Goransson highlights traditional African music – sowing drums and African vocals throughout.
He also adds chants, representing the different tribes of Wakanda, into the score – such as in “Waterfall Fight” where the Jabari’s chants can be heard woven into the tense beat littered with strings and African drumbeats.
Goransson reflects characters through his music. A perfect example is the track “Killmonger,” where he blends the traditional African aspects with the modern beats of American hip-hop. This perfectly sums up the dualism of Erik Killmonger’s (Michael B. Jordan) heritage and character. It’s for this reason that this track is my personal favorite – this mixture of oncoming dread (foreshadowing Killmonger’s defeat of Chadwick Boseman’s T’Challa) and raw American swag.
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Perhaps Goransson was influenced by the work of Ennio Morricone. In the track “Ancestral Plane,” the guitar segments sound reminiscent of something from Quentin Tarantino‘s “Django Unchained” or a Sergio Leone movie. The violins give it a suitably melancholic feel, which is precisely how T’Challa would be feeling when seeing his father again in the ancestral plane.
The track “Spaceship Bugatti” is another fine example of how Gorannson’s score contributes to the sense of wonder and awe in this film, both within the story and also as a viewer watching such a ground-breaking movie. He creates a pretty great recurring ‘superhero’ motif for T’Challa and builds excitement and tension superbly as any good action film should do.
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There is no consensus choice for Best Original Score at the Oscars. “First Man” won the Golden Globe and Critics Choice but was snubbed by the academy. “A Star is Born” took advantage of BAFTAs hybrid music category to win Best Music; it is also not nominated.
Of the four other nominees, “Mary Poppins Returns” would be a pretty basic choice – a musical – while Alexandre Desplat (“Isle of Dogs”) won last year for “The Shape of Water.” “BlacKkKlansman” and “If Beale Street Could Talk” (which both have good scores, particularly the latter by Nicholas Britell) are both going to take home Oscars in other categories – Best Adapted Screenplay for the former and Best Supporting Actress (Regina King) for the latter. Why not spread the Oscar love a little more and reward one of the most popular and most loved films of the year?
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