During the voting period of the Oscar nominations (Fri 5 – Wed 10 March), I will be putting out FYC campaigns for what films Academy members should be giving a watch and who they should be considering giving a nomination for.
Today’s FYC push: Tenet
Note: I will not be talking about the Best Visual Effects category, as Tenet is not needing a push in that particular category for nominations. This FYC push will focus on other categories that the film should be considered for.
Best Original Score
This has been a strong year for Original Scores, as highlighted in the Shortlist for the category. Whilst there are a few that are sure to be locks, such as the Reznor and Ross double-hit of Mank and Soul, I want to make a case as to why Ludwig Göransson’s score for Tenet should also be included in the line-up.
Having won the Oscar in 2019 for the score of Black Panther, Göransson has been able to make a name for himself pretty quickly. As director Christopher Nolan’s usual choice for score, Hans Zimmer, was busy directing a small film by the title of Dune, Göransson was called in to take over and compose the score for Tenet. The result is incredibly successful.
For a long time in 2020, this was easily the strongest score of the entire year. The blend of current influences with the orchestral backing, particularly highlighted in the stunning opening sequence of the film, sends shivers down your back as the music takes you on a journey. Even if the sound mixing is a mess at times with the film, the score is able to elevate the film and not take over.
The Academy is known for not nominating the best scores of the year. Having missed out over the past few years on Us and First Man, I can see a world where the Academy doesn’t embrace the music of Tenet. Whilst I hope the names attached to the project are enough to perk the members into paying attention, I hope that they do nominate the film for Best Original Score.
If you think the Score branch of the Academy is weird, that is nothing like the Cinematography branch. The Cinematography branch always loves to pick some wildcard choices, and I could see them leaning towards a film such as Dear Comrades! to make an appearance, alongside the predicted frontrunners of Nomadland and Mank. However, I once again have a case to make as to why members should not forget about the technical craft that went into Tenet.
Cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema, who has previously been nominated for another Christopher Nolan film Dunkirk, has stepped up his game as this film proves to be a difficult one to capture on screen. Of course, many people are already talking about the visual effect work needed to bring the time-reversal to life, but the trick to that also comes in with cinematography.
This is not just about how stunning the film looks, from the interior action sequences to the gorgeous coastal backdrops. It is also about the level of difficulty, something that Nolan prides himself on with his films. Even if you think the film fails in the screenplay to explain the concept of the film, the cinematography certainly brings it to life and makes it a visual spectacle.
The cinematography branch is known for looking at the difficulty level of a shoot to determine their nominees and winners. Over the past decade, films such as Birdman, 1917, and even Nolan’s own Inception have taken home the big award of the night. Surely Tenet fits in nicely with that collection of winners, even to be a nominee?
I know there will be people questioning my choice to campaign this film in Best Editing, as people do seem to have major issues with the film. Whether it is the sound design or the script people struggle with, I understand where those criticisms come from and why people didn’t warm to the film. However, what is undeniable to me is how the editing brought this world to life and let me have fun with the story, even if the script struggled within moments.
Editor Jennifer Lame is a name that you should be keeping an eye on, because the work she has done over the past decade is insane to look at. Working with directors such as Noah Baumbach, Ari Aster and Christopher Nolan, she was also an additional editor for another film this year: Shaka King’s Judas and the Black Messiah. That is one strong filmography she has.
However, this is such a difficult film to tell in any form of narrative structure. Nolan likes to go big and confusing with his stories, which can be his downfall at times. Jennifer Lame not only places all the pieces together, but makes it an enjoyable ride. To me, it easily is one of the best-edited films of the entire year and a technical achievement not many films risked to touch.