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March 5, 2018
Desplat Gets Oscar Win in Shape
Lopez team hits gold with "Remember Me" by Jon Burlingame
HOLLYWOOD—Alexandre Desplat, Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez took top musical honors at the 90th annual Academy Awards ceremony Sunday night at the Dolby Theatre.
Desplat won for his romantic music for The Shape of Water, the Lopezes for their song "Remember Me" from Coco. It was a second Oscar win for all of them: Desplat won three years ago for The Grand Budapest Hotel, while the Lopezes won four years ago for their hit "Let It Go" from Frozen.
With last night's song win, Robert Lopez is now the first person in show business history to earn the prestige of a double EGOT – an acronym for the Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony awards – having now won at least two of each. Lopez earned his first EGOT by age 39 (he is now 43), the youngest person to achieve this status.
It was an especially music-filled evening, as all five nominated songs were performed by the original artists; and Eddie Vedder performed Tom Petty's song "Room at the Top" for an In Memoriam segment that included the late film composers Johann Johannsson and Luis Bacalov, and rock star Chuck Berry. Oscar music director Harold Wheeler augmented the film music with several Cole Porter tunes and other classics, heard as the show was going into and back from commercial breaks.
The evening's biggest surprise may have been the Walmart commercial that aired about 90 minutes into the Oscarcast. Composer Hans Zimmer was the focus of director Nancy Meyers' minute-long ode to musical creativity; he was seen in his plush Santa Monica studio struggling with a new movie theme. Drummer Satnam Singh Ramgotra and guitarist Heitor Pereira are among his bandmates as the tune finally comes together.
Many of the music nominees attended Saturday's annual Oscar reception of the Society of Composers & Lyricists at The Eveleigh in West Hollywood. Each was presented with a ceremonial baton by SCL president Ashley Irwin, who was taking time away from Oscar rehearsals at the Dolby Theatre, where he was part of Harold Wheeler's music team.
Said Hans Zimmer (nominated for Dunkirk): "Every composer and every musician in this building is part of a family of completely reckless human beings. We were all told to get a real job and we couldn't bear it," he said, the first of many lines that filled the room with knowing laughter. "For all you reckless people here, you are truly winners because you bucked the system and you're here."
Desplat accepted the baton but earned another laugh by pointing out that he doesn't use one on the podium. On a more serious note, he added: "Some movies you have difficulty finding your way through, because they don't have this magical, musical element [found in Guillermo del Toro's film]."
Carter Burwell (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri) drew more laughter by pointing out that his film "was completely lacking in magical, musical aspects, so it was very difficult. I'm happy to have finished it and to be here." He praised the SCL, whose members he called "colleagues rather than competitors," for its continued vigilance on hot-button topics in the music community.
The two nominated composers not in attendance were John Williams (Star Wars: The Last Jedi) and Jonny Greenwood (Phantom Thread). Williams sent a message saying "it's a very great honor to be nominated and a privilege to be counted among my fellow music nominees, each of whom is so deserving of the academy's recognition."
Songwriter Taura Stinson (one of the three writers of "Mighty River" from Mudbound) was in awe at the fact that, as she said, "three years ago I was a choir singer behind John Legend and Common when they won their Oscar."
Kristen Anderson-Lopez recalled being "complete newcomers" four years ago on their first nomination for Frozen. "Every single person in this category is a hero and an artist that we look up to," she said.
Diane Warren and Common ("Stand Up for Something" from Marshall) proved an amusing duo, as she remarked, "we're like crass and class – he's the class." He laughed and reminded the room that "music has no borders; it brings us all together."
Benj Pasek and Justin Paul ("This Is Me" from The Greatest Showman) drew another round of laughter from the crowd when Paul noted that, earlier that day, he received an email stating that his SCL membership had expired. "We will be renewing our membership," he promised. Pasek got even more laughs when he revealed that he once babysat the Lopez's children – which Kristen confirmed.
©2018 Jon Burlingame