Why was Antonio Sanchez' Birdman score disqualified for an Oscar?

                                                                  We're concerned artists, composers, musicians and fans who wonder why the amazingly creative and ground-breaking drum score for Birdman by Antonio Sanchez was disqualified by the Academy.

The answers the Academy gave for their extremely peculiar decision disagree with the facts. The Academy reasons for disqualification are below, followed by the facts.

Academy: The biggest dramatic moments of the film were underscored by classical music. This dilutes the original score.

• Fact: The most memorable moments are scored by drums:
—Riggan’s attempt at suicide onstage
—His tormented destruction of his dressing room
—The most climactic moments of the film
Fact: The classical music is not part of the score—it was part of the play and the events in the movie.
Fact: The King's Speech score (nomination, 2010) was not disqualified, even though classical music not written by the film composer played a huge role in the film.
Fact: The score for The Artist was nominated and won the Oscar in 2012 despite the climactic scene being underscored by music lifted directly from Bernard Hermann's score for Vertigo.

Academy: Over 50% of the score is sourced music, not written by the composer. 

• FactBirdman has over 30 minutes of Sanchez' original score and only 17 minutes of sourced music.
Fact: The Full Monty (nomination, 1997) was not disqualified, even though it had over 34 minutes of songs—twice as much as Birdman.
Fact: Slumdog Millionaire (nomination, 2008) was not disqualified, even though it was full of songs.

 

The facts contradict what the Academy said, and we have the following questions:

• When the Academy decided to disqualify the score for Birdman, were the members aware of previous Academy decisions that qualified The Artist, The King’s Speech, The Full Monty, Slumdog Millionaire and others?
• Is the music branch of the Academy aware that their application of qualification rules is markedly inconsistent?

We feel that the Academy is wrong on this one. Their decision on Birdman makes no sense in light of the precedents.

We hope the Academy will apply its rules consistently going forward, to ensure that creative and innovative work is always acknowledged and encouraged, and all contenders can be sure the Awards are fairly and impartially given.

 

 

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