The Oscars Are Removing Four Categories From the Telecast. Why? Plus a Conversation With Nominee Nicholas Britell | The Oscars Show (Ep. 126)

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Today's episode of the big picture is brought to you by Bud Light. Did you know not all alcohol products are required to list their ingredients. That was news to me, bud. Light is changing the game. They believe that we deserve to know, our beer's ingredients. So they put it ingredients label right there on their packaging. Bud light. Brewed with hops barley water and rice, no corn syrup, no preservatives and no artificial flavors. Find out what ingredients are in your beer, Bud Light. Enjoy responsibly. AB Bud Light beer, Saint Louis, Missouri. I'm Shawn fantasy. This is the big picture a conversation show about the Oscars. Amanda, we are here in the waning days of the Oscar race. I hope every will stay tuned after our conversation about the Oscars. I have an interview with the Greek composer, nNcholas Patel. And no you're a big fan. Amanda, he, of course, wrote the music for if Beale street could talk for which he is nominated and also vice and also moonlight in a number of other great scores. But we're going to talk right now about British Oscars. The BAFTA zte they happened earlier this weekend, and they were interesting. Amanda, any reflections on the the big winners at the Baptist. Well, I would say that there were some nothing was a total surprise, right? There were a few breaks from kind of what we see to be the established from runners at this point specifically Coleman won for best actress and Rachel vice won for best. Supporting actress keynote, they're both lovely British women. They are indeed at a British show, and we did talk last week about the idea that British people do tend to. To do this from time to time though. I think we should talk a little bit more about how frequently they favor their own and how much that is a predictor or not a predictor as the case may be for the real Oscars. It's fairly frequent. Yeah. There's always at least one film that I I was looking back at sort of some acting award trends, and I read that in twenty fifteen Dev Patel won for his performance in Lyon, which is not an performance. I recall winning very many awards. Stateside. No. So, you know, British Oscars are gonna British, you know, that's that's okay. That's certainly their right? As a as a body. You know, we've talked on previous episodes of the show about how there's a decent percentage of people who vote for the Baptist who also vote for the Oscar. So there are some lessons to take away from here. I'm a little dubious of Rachel vices campaign. However best supporting actress, historically, one of the most difficult to predict and she is your Queen even the live your Coleman will be the Queen. I think your vice yes in this movie in the movie, I was quite taken with her. I'm quite taken with Rachel vice and pretty much everything. She does I am. Well, she's quite charming, very, very talented actress, I don't think that I don't think that the the Oscar races in particular are changed by these two outcomes. But actress in particular sporting actress like I said have been up in the air. I think Regina king not being nominated at the sag awards has created some doubt about who is really the front runner in that race. Olivia Colman speech was wonderful. She is really terming. The she kind of has this Daffy loving quality. That is completely different from the energy that she brings to pretty much any performance. I've seen of hers, but certainly in the favorite. Yes. She's a really gifted relief comedian. Yes. Oh and just putting that on display. Let me ask you a question. This is kind of jam session territory. There was a lot of noise around the presence of the Royal family that the baptism. I don't understand any of that stuff. Can you explain it briefly? Well, so we should say that it was Prince William and Kate Middleton AK, the Duke and duchess of Cambridge. So not the whole Royal family. You make it sound like they're the stars of an action series. They're like a lot of different titles. So that's kind of their official title. But no-one calls them that. Yes, they were there they go every year, and they had an entrance that you can watch on the official count of the Kensington Palace Royal account. That's where they live, and it's their entrance into the auditorium. And everyone is standing and it's dead silent. And it's the most uncomfortable thing I have ever seen like no one is applauding which would be one normal reaction. There is no music playing which would be another normal action. So it's just a large auditorium people. Standing up looking kinda like politely confused, Vigo Mortenson is like very front in the frame. Just be like, hey, I'm here and also some people it's very strange. I don't know why they did this pin drop. Silence. A marker of British adulation. No. I was trying to think of you know, other entrances that I've seen like remember at the Olympics. London hosted the Olympics, and they did that whole video with Daniel Craig's JAMES BOND and the Queen. And then like she faked parachuted in on the real Queen came in and everyone applauded and there was like music. It's not like you have to sit there and be silent around a Royal person. I mean, I don't know I've never met any of them. Juliette Littman sat next to Princess Anne wants it a Hamilton performance. And that's really all the experience I have. But I don't think really out had to be silent. If you're confronted with the Duke and duchess of Cambridge would you hug them? No, okay. I think you'd be shot. If you did you hug any British person? I would know anybody. He exactly. Okay. There were a couple of other awards at the best as we should probably talk about those a little bit one. I think both of these awards kind of signal and inevitability whereas Libya Coleman and Rachel vice feel very trapped on the other side of the ocean. I think Romney Malik winning best actor starting to crystallize that race which is surprising. And I feel like we've gone through the seven stages of grief with this race. You know, we for those of you who don't know about the rewatch Ables, we have a podcast in which we re watch old movies and evaluate them. We did a fairly new movie stars born if you've heard of it. If you've heard of it, you may have heard of it talks about every week on this show. We'll talk about it later in in that conversation. We talked a little bit about Rummy Malik sort of leaping ahead of not just Bradley Cooper. But even Christian bale here and the Rummy monologue. We have just happened. Do you think that this confirms a well bohemian rhapsody is technically a film about British people? Okay. So that's something to keep in mind. I think that it was nominated and several other kind of British forward categories are like I like rehires thing. So I, you know, you gotta think about Freddie, Mercury as a person who is especially meaningful to that country and like Live Aid. We all know what that is. But Live Aid is the most important thing that ever happened to most British people. I don't know if you're British and listening to this. I'm sorry. A lot of blasphemy about that's like the British people. I do think he's the favourite still. I I'm mystified by it. I guess, you know, actors like other. Like actors like capital a acting like big shows. They all want to be out there song and dance and some spangles. And like, it's our time. I get it. If I could do it. Maybe it would be fun to you. So if you could physically embody, Freddie, Mercury you would do it. Well, I would wanna sing I wouldn't go halfway. And that's the other thing. We're not talking about this. He didn't sink. Splits. Let's revisit this. He didn't sing I think that you should have to sing to win an Oscar that is just might take you really blew the lid off this one zone. You didn't sing? There was an another inevitable sort of seeming award, which was of course, best film, which went to Roma, and you never talking about it before this podcast started about whether Roma's win is inevitable right now. And I think it isn't. Maybe you don't think it is. Because there are so many award shows, and there are so many guild awards and the way that all of those award shows are publicized means we have way more awareness of what has one. And so we're able to track the race a lot more aggressively than we used to now to your point Roma hasn't won that many best picture awards. It was not eligible for the Golden Globes. Right. When the critics choice award. Yes. Won this award. Yes. I believe it when the DJ's, you know, it feels like this is the direction we're moving in. It's the odds on Vegas favorite in years past I taught specifically before the show about what was happening last year with the shape of water, and it felt like it was normal del Toro's time and the shape of water was gonna win. And there was the sort of problematic movie the could upset it which was three billboards. Yes. And then there was the the sort of series of hope. Foles that were far less likely to win get out Dunkirk phantom thread, lady bird number of movies that we loved the internet's favorite the internet's favorites. And this year is somewhat similar now. I don't think that Roma is is a bigger achievement than the shape of water personally. But they have a lot in common, and then the sort of problematic Fave is green book and to a lesser extent. Bohemian rhapsody. Yes. Yeah. You got two for the price of one. Yes. And then we've got these other movies. We've got Black Panther. We've got black klansman. We've got a star is born that boy, it sure would be wonderful on the at at the strike of eleven to one PM on Sunday February twenty fourth when we can all just say, they did it. They did it right? We got something we wanted. Do you think that Roma is as inevitable as the shape of water was one year ago? I do not think it is as an edible. I still think it is the front runner if we were doing our ballots today, I would pick Rama I think probably when we do our ballots. I will pick Roma it has kind of the most cross scaled support. As you noted it. Does have that shape of water feeling of industry people and people like, wow what a an achievement? What? This shows what movies can do technically in a motion only. And you know, I know I was doing that in our casting voice because that's how I felt about the shape of water, but I actually your sentiment. I thought remote was unbelievable. And it was really special movie experience for me. So in that sense. Yeah. I guess it does have shape of water. I just really keep going back to house spread out all of the awards. This season have been it has not been a horse race between two movies which last year. It was shape of water with three billboards pretty much. And then we all talked a lot about get out. We kind of like tried to secret that into existence young three billboards should say one of the baths is last year. And even though three billboards as theoretically a movie about America, it was written and directed by Martin mcdonagh who was British exactly. So, you know, this stuff is increasingly difficult to predict based on previous awards, right? I think also the fact that you have to spoilers in Greenville humane. Rhapsody changes the mathematics in terms of the. Referential ballot. I think I don't know it's similar, and again, I think it'll probably be Roma by I'm more confused than I usually am at this point in the Oscar season. I am too. We've got ten more days, maybe two and a half more episodes of this show to figure it all out. I did want to note that the bath is the telecast was fine. The awards are good and not necessarily the way that they give them out. But the categories that they have I thought you were literally talking about the actual physical trophy. No, the which I find alarming. Yes. Trophy is sort of Shakespearean mass. Yes drama mask. And yet. It's a hold. That would is a bit eyes wide. Shut. Yes. So I'm not I'm not in favor of that. What do you think is the best shaped award? That's a great question. Cross all awards. It's definitely the Oscar. You think so? Yes, streamlined, but powerful, very phallic. Well, you know, it's it's literally at a word about Hollywood. So at some point you got to. Okay. So you're going Oscar. I'm going. Sure Oskar that sounds fine easer to spiky. I would be worried about my like poking my eye out. There's something profound about an EMMY though, you put an EMMY on a shelf. It's like that thing is in charge that giant ball. It looks like at Christmas ornament. Okay. What I meant to say about the Baptist was that the awards themselves a categories that they give out are pretty interesting outstanding debut by a British writer director, or producer is a cool category gray that would be wouldn't it be great? If we could just put Beaubourg him in that category this year and particularly Bradley Cooper. There were a couple of really cool. I think John Kaczynski might find his way into their you know, there's a few people that would do well in that category. Don't you think I agree? So why don't they do it? I don't know. I like, I appreciate that. British people seem to take pride in their industry. You way that the Oscars somehow don't seem to be able to communicate even though they make us watch so many montages we're gonna talk about that a little bit. Yeah. The other category is similar to this one which is rising star which is a category that I lobbied for the ringer dot com. Like three months ago, this is just such so obvious like just just put more young interesting. Exciting people on the conveyor belt to start on. This is the way to do it to put them in front of thirty million people on a TV show, right? Counterpoint? Yeah. Best new artist at the greatest, which is like the most laughable award across any awards show. I mean part of that is because the Grammys are also laughable in that legibility periods. Make no sense. And what's new to someone is not nudist someone else? Sweat and music. Do a leap win last night. Yes. Okay. So duly three million followers on Twitter idea of hers. A best new artist is insane. But every year, we say that that's true. Okay. So you're saying shouldn't. No, no. But this is a nice word. This is best case because it was the teacher rate. It was Latisha. And that's fantastic. I was very cool. Let's he's right. Also has been acting for like four or five years. But what it, nevertheless, it's at least they say rising instead of new. Oh, good. Good designation. That's smart. Okay. So we'll do that. Any other reflections on the Baptist before we move onto our next segment? I just really felt all of the Royal stuff was weird. Just again, besides the entrance. The Latisha rate reminded me of this because you can also on the Twitter account, watch Prince, William and. Kate Middleton having awkward conversations with all the winners. And there's a video of Prince William and Latisha right talking and doing their best to connect and he's very excited, and she just is she's playing along. But it's so weird. Okay. Strangely quickey. Yeah. Was kate. Middleton's favourite film of twenty eighteen. I really have no idea. How yes. Bumblebee. I mean, I don't really think they have seen that many movies by divers. So, yeah, it's definitely spider. Vern rules. Have you heard of spiders? Yeah. I have so awesome. That's great. What about Williams Weaverville probably mission impossible? Yeah. Hell you. Yeah. Greece respect ya. Okay. Great. Let's go to our next segment, which is called stock up. Stuck down? If it goes bust, you can make ten to one twenty to one return, and it's already slowly going bust. Okay. Amanda. I'm sure that listeners of this podcast are going to tell us to shut the hell up as soon as I say what the subject of this stock up stock down is. But it's Bradley Cooper. And there's a very good reason for that Bradley Cooper was back in the news and his campaign continues apace he had two very vocal. I I guess defenders come forward for him in the last few days. Campaigner scares me. What it is. They have finally decided that they are willing to campaign for an Oscar months too late. It'd happened too late. It's been a very curious situation. The first, of course on Friday afternoon deadline dot com published I guess you could call it an essay, I'm not sure what the word for. What was written? Exactly is. But a sort of a defence a a full throated appreciation of a star is born by Sean Penn, Sean Penn of courses, and actor filmmaker activist and author okay, though, you might not based on some of the words that are written in this piece. Would highly. Encourage anyone listening to the show to seek out. Those words they are quite a tangle. And they are extremely red blooded masculine about a movie that I think does a nice job of untangling, some of those ideas of masculinity. So I found Sean Penn's notes on the movie to be a little bit strange and a little bit misguided. I didn't point out to you that there is a very interesting segment in Sean Penn's w t f interview from March of twenty eighteen in which clearly just recently seen a cut of stars born, and he's technically not allowed to talk about it. But he is really singing its praises to the absolute hilt. And when I heard that that was the moment, I was like this movie may be a disaster. Couple of episodes later, maybe couple of episodes before Jennifer Lawrence did the same thing on WPF. She said I saw cut of a star is born Bradley is a genius. This movie is going to change everything. And I thought that was odd to those two people whose judgment, I don't always trust the honest, however, SARS Mark him along. Obviously, we fell in love with at checkout, the rewatch Ables yada, yada, yada, come to find out. Well, after Bradley Cooper has not been nominated for best director, Sean Penn is come forward with this essay, what was your instant reaction to the publication of that essay instant reaction is what is happening. And what have I done to somehow be in this time line narrative? Just what else do you Sean Penn have in common? I just have a couple of things the number one. And I already alluded to this as I just cannot believe how much they've screwed up this Oscar campaign, and I think a lot of this. I don't want to place blame but mistakes were made. And we know that Bradley Cooper is not the most pressed forward, actor or director. He doesn't love doing. It was featured in the New York Times, it has been featured in pretty much every interview that he's ever done. But grudgingly watched the Graham Norton clip from this year as well where he just honestly looks frozen. It's it's not his area of expertise, and that's fine. But that's not how you want an Oscar and they clearly decided to do as little as possible and let the movie speak for itself and then after the Oscar nominations when Bradley Cooper was snubbed from best director. They realized that was a mistake. And so now, they're putting him in an interview with Oprah. They're putting him on the today show he's out and about and they're also apparently calling. Friends in this case, we can't confirm this this is that speculation. That's true. But I would guess that. It's not on related. I think it's completely plausible that Sean Penn who I noted at a year ago was stepping out for this movie. Just sort of felt offended Sean Penn's relationship to the Oscars is also quite fraud. And interesting the last time, I remember him on the Oscar telecast, I believe he was giving best picture to Birdman and making a joke about the border. You may recall that in two thousand fifteen anyhow, I the other person who came forward was Paul Schrader, my problematic Fave. I love Paul Schrader. He's nominated this year for best original screenplay. He also wrote I guess an Email to Indy wire. Yes, in which he clarified that he felt at the best director of twenty eighteen was by far Bradley Cooper in part because he helped lady Gaga transformed into alley and got an astonishing performance from her. Now, I think you and I agree with that. Yes. I don't know. If anyone else watched the Grammys on Sunday. Tonight at lady Gaga's performance of shallow confirms the vision that Bradley Cooper had for her true, and the type of performance that he was able to get out of lady Gaga that is perhaps difference than what she would do in left to her own devices. Yeah. I I noted last night that I thought that this reminded me a lot of the three or four years that lady Gaga was having before this movie came along which was three or four years of her that I was not super interested in except for when she was singing father, John misty songs. But that's neither here nor there. Nevertheless, Paul shredders essay. I thought was a nice gesture and I had heard him talk in the past about lady Gaga performance. Apparently, he was very funding of her at the Oscars luncheon a few weeks ago, and he approached her was really taken with her and one of the things that he cited was he had worked on a film in the eighties with Joan Jett, and he attempted to do a similar transformation with Georgia to make her into an Oscar caliber actress and felt he didn't succeed, and he took the blame for that. And he said, it's the director's responsibility to make that performance work in a movie. And you know, I thought that this was I don't know how strategically campaigned all this was it's kind of hard for me to say like, I think if you're you're probably wise to be cynical about the way that everything unfolded award season because it is highly orchestrated, but also you and I really admire stars born in. I think a lot of Bradley's peers really admire stars born. That's try just especially with the timing. I don't think it's unconnected, and you're right that it may just be in either that this is a performance in a film, that's been overlooked. And so people with the means. Call up reporters have decided to do that. I will see the the two sudden defenders of star is born being Sean Penn and Paul Schrader. Just now the white nights that I was looking for it doesn't really speak to like my audience or how I connect to the film. I don't know that it rounds out the qualities of the movie that we want academy voters to react to. But maybe I'm wrong. I can't get out of my head. The idea of Sean Penn being held back by several police officers and say is dead. My bradley. I can't I feel like I'm going to dream about that I understand that Sean Penn and Paul Schrader, perhaps not you're the only two people being shot in ten in Paul Schrader is Dr and and the cast of three watchable. Well, it's a very interesting time because and you noted the Grammys last night. I mean shallow did win a Grammy to win two Grammy. Yes, it won't to Grammys. And now, maybe Bradley Cooper can got to something we should consider though, he may not win any Oscars this year. So it might be awhile. Yeah. Idea Bradley Cooper, having a Grammy before an Oscar is heart-wrenching. I am curious. How the shallow of it all at the Grammys will affect the shallow of it all at the Oscars. How do you mean? Well, Sean, it was not a good performance. Not a Mormon. I see I thought waiting at the Grammys. Catsuit doing the thing. Yeah. And then also it being so prominent, and this this is very sad that lady Gaga in her acceptance speech for the kind of second televised a war that shallow one. She started off a portion of her speech by saying in case, I don't get to say this again, which reflects knowledge that perhaps she will not be winning anymore. Wards? I actually think that that was smart in will kind of cut to academy voters hearts, and she will at least one for best song. But you never know especially because it's one so many wards already. They might be like a whatever they took care of it. Oscar voting opens today. So if you're listening to this show, and you love shallow perhaps vote for shallow. Yeah. If you like all the stars. And you want to reward Kendrick Lamar you can do that to what else anything else about the press blitz. That's happening around stars born right now, where's the love for same Elliott? I feel like that's just baked into the industry. He's probably the best chance for an upset. Right. I don't know. I guess so don't you at the the Oscars luncheon Glenn Close was apparently going around referring to him as her fictional husband or something or they? Yes, you know, I think that everyone is really taken by him in the same way that you are. So I don't know that they need to do the extra push. I mean, the fact that he got nominated means that people are taking them seriously something really funny as happening right now. Assimilate, which is that he is the star of a movie that came out on Friday. And so he is doing press for this movie. He is literally the star of this movie. Same Elliott does not the star very many movies at the stage of his career. The name of the movie is the man who killed Hitler. And then the big foot. Which you know, I think says a lot it's a very it's more knowing than that title may indicate. But this is really how same Elliott is spending. A lot of his time is talking about this movie. And also, his performance Jackson means brother. So in conclusion supports I'm Elliot support. A star is born. It's very good. It is very good. Would you say it stock up or stock down for Bradley right now? I really don't know. Because this press blitz has not had its attendant effect on me. But you're have a vote, but I don't have a vote. And also I liked the movie. So maybe all the people who are not responding to the movie will then respond to this fakery. Yeah. I mean, I think older white men consists of a huge portion of the academy voters, Sean Penn and Paul Schrader just happened to be a couple of old white guys. Yeah. So it could be savvy strategy. We will see we're going to move to another topic in stock up stock down, which is not a film or an actor or an actress or a director production designer it is the telecast of the Oscars. Today. We learned the four categories that the academy will not be showing us on the telecast, those categories are cinematography, which was speculated upon has been confirmed film editing live action short and the category of makeup and hairstyling. Now, it's notable that you can't make a movie without cinematography or editing. So that's interesting that we won't be seeing that on the Oscars telecast, what do you make of the choice to not put these four categories on television. Amanda, I would also argue that you don't wanna see a movie without makeup and hairstyling. But anyway, this is a mistake or both agree. This is huge mistake. Yeah. This is a this is a mistake. And I think that you and I possibly differ on the goal kind of the reasons for doing this, which is to make say a more efficient Oscar telecast or really to reimagined what the Oscars should be into thousand nineteen. But the way that they are doing it by kinda randomly cutting four categories from the Oscars. Is lame an unfair. And is not the spirit of the show. Or does not understand why people tune in which is to watch people win awards and give speeches, and it just kinda also this show already feels terrible. You know, I it's gone wrong. Every which way that it can go wrong. We haven't even watched it yet. And it's just another like, this is a bummer. This feels gross. It's just tone death. Reactions was instantaneously negative to these details were revealed. It's been cited over and over again, the John Bailey, the current president of amps is a cinematographer. So, you know, there's some speculation that may be because he's a cinematographer trying to seem like the bigger man by moving his category off of the telecast that's pretty cynical though. This whole thing's pretty cynical. So that's certainly in play. You are not a huge fan of short films. Amanda, that's okay. That it was an unpublished private take that you just made public. And that also is not the correct representation. I think what you said to me verbatim was kill all short films. Okay. No, okay. I just said I think this was after you know, trying to do my the first round of my ballot. And being like, I don't know what's going on. But the thing that I said to you was there is some sort of argument where if you put all the short films together, it is a slightly different product than a feature film. And if you were like, okay, we will award these at a different ceremony will do different awards. You know, obviously short films and feature films are connected. They use the same skills and people who make short films often develop into feature films, but it's not as plain mean-spirited as it's being like. Well, sorry, you edited this movie and saved it in you get your ordering commercial break. Yeah. Makeup in her selling, for example, like there is no vice without makeup and hairstyling. You just can't make that movie. It can't happen and to shunt that to the side is strange now. There are some details. Your that are kind of interesting to go through which is the say that we will be able to see the acceptance speeches later in the telecast, I'm not totally sure how that will work. Maybe inbetween or going out to commercial though, show us someone receiving an award in thanking people for thirty seconds or something. I'm not totally sure how they'll maneuver that. They're also saying, hey, watched this show on our livestream because we have entered the twenty first century at the Oscars. And we will now have a worldwide livestream like every other thing that we consume. I do you think many people will be watching the Oscars on livestream. I guess that does help with the sort of worldwide audience. I think more people will than would have five years ago. And as soon as you asked me that I was thinking about how I watched the nominations this year on a livestream which until three or four years ago. It was on good Morning America. And now, we we are conditioned to that. I hit was also and there's kind of like an awards nerd deep cut, but the real via heads. No that the best camera is are the reaction cameras that are livestream throughout the VM as so there is a subset of people who is used to this. And there are so many cord cutters. So you think we'll have an additional production? Like a new way of seeing the show on the livestream that we won't see on the telecast new-. I just think that there are many people who already don't have networks or don't have cable subscriptions and who are used to watching things on their computers. Like, definitely everyone under thirty will be watching this on their computers or they'll go to a party. But a lot of people do so. It doesn't seem that far fetched. And I think in some ways is the academy catching up with the many different ways that people do watch TV shows that doesn't bug me as much the fact that people are being shunted to just alive cast. It's rude. I mean, this is just like rude it it's exclusionary. It's like being picked last in elementary school. That's it. And it is definitely negates the spirit of awards which are to celebrate people instead of making people feel bad. I have a lot more to say about that. But let's just underline a few more aspects of how this was decided and what it will mean for the future. So the four categories according to the Hollywood reporter that are getting the abbreviated treatment. This year will be guaranteed a regular spot on the twenty twenty broadcast, and according to several sources, the reporter says video demonstration of what this new format will look like was shown to the various branches, it is said to have included. Most of the presentation minus the winners walked to the stage the goal. They were told was also to include the spirit of each winners. Acceptance speech, although the speeches could be edited if they turn into a long list of thank yous. I don't know what that means. There's one other note of cynicism here that I have to point out that I saw Mark Harris pointed out on Twitter, which is that there's not a single Disney film run any of these four categories and there's been nominated and that feels a little bit dubious in terms of how they made some selections about what should be on TV in which had not what do you think about that? I mean, I always like a conspiracy theory, and I'm sure it's not unrelated. And again, it just underlines these are arbitrary at best. And it's not the way to improve the show. There are ways to improve the show. This isn't it? This is all in an effort to get the three hours, which who cares like, that's arbitrary. No, high take. That's a good goal. That's a good goal time. Limits are good. There is no reason for this show to be four hours on there is just not it's certainly harder to make it three hours. I understand that live shows blowed and people talk and things don't go as planned, but the goal of keeping it concise and clear is admirable and more people should do it. Not just. And live broadcast, but across all mediums film television music writing phone calls to me, whatever. We will never we will never agree on this. Well, there are two contingents to is. There is the keep the Oscars as long as it needs to be because who cares? It happens once a year, and we have organized an entire podcast around it. And then there is you militants zealot that you are insistent upon a timeframe on something that is creative. But like what how long does it need to be? That's the whole segment. There's so much stuff in the Oscars that doesn't need to be there. One montage is amazing to montages well edited well chosen fantastic frigging eighteen. No, thank you. Let the nice makeup person walk to the stage in front of everybody else. I don't agree with how they're making the cuts, and I think it's really unfair. And I think that it suggests misplaced priority on the part of the academy or the producers or ABC who could. No. But I think the idea of making the show more watchable is not only good like Lord, they need it. Because no one else is gonna wanna watch it. Otherwise, can I agree with you just a little bit? Yeah. I understand that. I think why people think that the montage Zor big waste of. Yeah. As a young person eight nine ten year old Sean picture him London child. Really great kid big dreams. Big aspirations all he wants to do is watch movies. When you see those montages when you're eight nine ten years old, and even when you're twenty five or forty five you don't know everything about film history. So when you see north by northwest in a montage about great Cary Grant, performances or you see, I don't know Casablanca about great romances. It indicates that there is a wider film history. And that is definitely the feeling that the Oscars are trying to give you those montages. Now, there's definitely overkill there's far too many some of the ideas are too specific or too weird. But I think that there is value in those I agree with you. And I think the point is just that they're clearly choosing montages over words in it. I'm concerned that they will go too far the other after you're say there are already too many. I'm thinking a lot about the game as because we just watched them, and they were four hours, and they were terrible. They were really bad. Bad. And there was just so much time filling and long performances and tributes to people who weren't nominated. You know, I think they presented me eight awards over the course of four hours, and it was just. A lot of there was like a Jennifer Lopez Motown tribute. Okay. I love Jennifer Lopez truly I love Motown truly it made. No sense. It went on four ever. It was bad. And this was also in a year when many of the biggest and most famous names refused to show up to the Grammys. So they were clearly filling time by programming mediocre at best performances that no one really cares about the Grammys are different. I think there are different proposition in large part because they twenty years ago decided to just be a concert, and it's just a different sort of formulation. You know that the kind of show that the Grammy's wants to have is is actually only obsessed with the past one of the biggest problems with it is that it has no sense of of modern music. It it, you know, Casey Musk's won best album last night. That's great. We all love Casey most graves, I think a lot of people who are real Casey Moscow's fans felt similarly to the way the people watching the Oscars which was like she should have won this for the last record three years ago and not this cycle. They're always kind of a step behind. At least the young person one and a woman one, which was great. But that is not really an award show that is about awards. It's an award show that is about performances, and it is of the pageantry of performance the Oscars. Takes it self a little bit more seriously. And part of the reason that it takes up more seriously as it says the act of making movies is a big part of the proposition of this show. And it's serves to be understood. And that's why we give out best visual effects and production, design and sound editing. These are small pieces of a puzzle to come together to form this beautiful tapestry, and we start taking that stuff away. You start denigrating the idea of this show NAN that mostly only offense people like you and me who are interested in some of these bigger ideas. But it does create a sense of understanding around what this award show was supposed to be about. So if you just obsessed again down to three hours and only getting in the sixteen awards that people really care about. And that's it. I don't really know what the point of the show is does that make sense. Yes. Just watch the critics choice awards. We'll, but it's the Oscars. I mean, he don't like the. The producers or saying that's why they're like you got to watch me because we're the Oscars, but if you're not the Oscars anymore, then you're not. Yes. But what is not the Oscars mean because you're not airing every category or because no one cares. It just depends on its it says one thing is more valuable than another. And that's historically. Now, what has been about some of the things that we have criticized if over the years like it wasn't a problem when Titanic one in fifty five million people watched the show, and they also gave out best live action short. It was fine. It was I it's much more about this anxiety about the place of two things one movies in our culture, which is obviously my obsession and to the nature of live events and award shows, which is something you've got a lot. Well, you know, I think the thing is the twenty years ago, they didn't have to make a distinction. They could just be the Oscars because you had four networks, and then some cable stuff and everybody watched them, and we still all tune into live events. And I've said this million times, I'm sorry for myself the way that we watch television and movies has changed dramatically even in the last two years. Even in the last year the way that we respond to live events and just kind of what we should be watching. What's important? What is the center of the culture has really changed mostly because the way that people consume any sort of culture has changed. And so they used to be able to get away with kind of doing whatever they wanted because it was the Oscars and everybody watches the Oscars. And now they are having to make some decisions about what the Oscars are which they have never had to before. I don't mind that they're trying to make it into a watchable show because it is a show as much as it is an institution. It's like nobody no at nobody act. Really cares about is the academy with all respect to the academy. And nobody like the traditions and the history, and what this gust body does for the industry is completely impenetrable to like even me really anyone watching and so all great society. Yeah. And so all of the criticisms of the changes in that regard of being like, this is not what the academy has done. I you know, I side with the producers on that. But I agree with you that cutting the lesser categories is a worrying decision of being like, well, the Oscars are going to be more about popularity or stars. Or? I think the problem is they don't know what the Oscars are. That's the thing that they're kind of much like the popular Oscar thing where they kind of floated and then took it back, and we don't even know whether it's still happening. They're like, well, maybe we'll cut five categories, but we might not. And we don't know which ones and it'll change every year. They're just kind of stumbling around in the dark instead of making some actual decisions of here's what the Oscars are in two thousand eighteen in the streaming age, and they need someone who can make those decisions it's hard. I'm not in charge. And I don't have all the answers. But the waffling confused nature of it all is poss- is the biggest problem in my from my perspective. Let's conceptualize this a little bit last year. Twenty six point five million. People watched the show. Yeah. That's the lowest ever I think it was a twelve percent drop in the previous year's readings. So if we forecast let's say the ratings are down again this year. I think they might be up a little bit people have pushed back on that. And so that's not not the case. Everything has been down. The Globes were down the Super Bowl was down. Everything's going to be done. I think they are going to be done. So they may be down. I think that. Was born in Black Panther and a number of more successful films in the mix this year indicated might be up. I could be wrong. Let's say I'm wrong. Let's say it's twenty three million. That's a disaster. That's down. They made all these changes. They cut it to three hours. They cut the categories they essentially whittled it down to two with an inch of its life. Then what do you do do you try to make to our show? Do you announce the rock is going to host in April? And then let eleven months go by before he does host because that is what was speculated last week. Iraq was actually interviewed by the Howard reporter about what he would have done if he were to be the host of the show. I love the rock. I'm not sure that the rock necessarily would have changed the complexion of Oscar history. Yeah. But what do you do if they're down deacon more wards? Do you make it just awards about avengers? How do you get people interested in the show? Why I think you have to recalibrate, and this is what I was talking about. If like day need to make some hard decisions about what the Oscars are. And who they are are going forward because you're never gonna get fifty five million people like, and you're just not that's agree with that. That's not. They're not. That forty million people again, right? And it's probably going to be down. And I think this is television of movies of what we do frankly of appealing to the broadest swath possible of people doesn't really work anymore. You need committed passionate obsessed specific fan bases and audiences movement informed by your time working at the ringer. Which what Ellie what we do we hang audience as much as possible and giving them as much as we can about the things that were passionate about that's true. The Oscars used to be a thing that fifty million people a lot of things so did regular television showed it regular movies, so dying. So does that mean the Oscars are dying? Is it too strong statement to say in the year of our Lord twenty nineteen the year in which we launched this damn show that this institution is dying. I guess we can wait until February twenty fifth say that for sure what else I think? It's it's sick it sick. It's not doing. Well, I think that it can be turned around. I. I think it will look different than it did in nineteen ninety nine and I do not think that the current changes being made suggest a healthy robust future for the Oscars. But you know, maybe maybe someone will figure something out. Maybe someone will our colleague Bryan Curtis has this axiomatic freeze the uses all the time, which is that the NFL ratings will not affect your life. And he uses it anytime there is a report about the ratings of any kind of institution that we follow closely. I don't really agree with that axiom. Because this is a real time example of if you're interested in the Oscars the ratings of the Oscars are influencing the shape of the show. So it will be interesting to see what happens also how quickly they kind of usher everyone off the stage after their winds that the other thing that is a little bit undiscussed. Here is the acceptance speeches are the reason to have the Oscars that those are the real moments of the award. The the the Sally field. You like me, really? You like me the Jennifer Lawrence like being completely unprepared and emotional about her win. Julia Roberts is win for Erin. Brockovich? These are the moonlight Lalande snafu where we be if we had to get in under a ten fifty nine to get that award out into the world that would have been a disaster, the sort of unpredictability and the human drama is the point of the show, and they're making an attempt to quarantine that and I'm against it. That's my that's my last word on it. I think that their reports of how they instructed the nominees to be quiet at the Oscar show or pre rude. I mean, their Oscar their Oscar nominees, it's their moment. And you're right. It suggests a fundamental misunderstanding of the magic that is someone crying on stage and kind of really emoting in real time. It that is why we watch it. But again, I agree time on it. It should only be three hours figuring out. And if you can't figure out hire someone who can okay. So maybe next time they'll hire. Or a Proctor who gives the SAT's? Let's go to our next segment. It's the big race. Momma look at me. Now, I'm a star. Amid we promise last week that we would talk about the best screenplay categories in the big race. And I must say I didn't really study up too much before we were trying for the segment. So I'm curious to hear some of your thoughts. Yeah. There there are certainly some favorites in these categories, of course, the Oscars splits the screenplay category into two different categories won for best original screenplay in won for best adapted screenplay this year. I'll just run should I run through the nominees for original. And then we'll start there. That sounds great. Okay. So the original nominees are the favourite Deborah Davison. Tony mcnamara. First reform, the aforementioned problematic pulse. Trader green book the truth it problematic Fave? Brian curry Peter fairly Nick Villalonga Roma in Koran and vice Adam McKay think we should clarify not are problematic. Favara great book. No, perhaps the academy's though. Yes. Which is something we discuss your quite certain what is the favorite in this category right now. Wow. You just really sat me. Up for that one. It's the. As I mentioned eight nine ten year old John fantasy once upon a time. This was my favorite category as a young person because because this was a category that often awarded the films that I liked best. Yes. And they often evinced the sort of like sure the Oscars rewards Braveheart. But what I'm really into his quiz show stuff. Like that. Of course. And so I always looked to it as a kind of a bellwether for what's really for lack of a better word creative in Hollywood in the year of the Oscars. So the favorite I think kinda represents everything when we look back. We're gonna say this is definitely one of the more inventive thoughtful less mechanical and campaign heavy movies of the season. I do think the green book could upset this though. And if that happens, it kind of flies in the face of all those warm feelings, I'm talking about what do you think I agree with your description of this category? It is and I I feel the point in the Oscar season where I have just. Said the same things over and over again. And God bless you people for listening, but this is the consolation prize category. It's we'll give you this one. And then you don't want anything outside Jordan Peele one last year forget out and then get out to not win any other major prizes. Mike Queen Sofia Coppola back in two thousand and four. I think one for lost in translation, it is always the people who you who we love and that also possibly says something about how you and I respond to movies, and what we look for a little bit of a cool kid category. Like, let's I'll I'll listen some previous ready alley curry one for film, and Louise in nineteen Ninety-two that was really great a gene camping one for the piano, quintet, Tino, and Roger Avery one for fiction, Joel and Ethan Coen one for Fargo good will hunting, of course, Lincoln Matt demons win Julian Fellowes for Gosford Park. That's one of your guys. Charlie Kaufman has an Oscar because of eternal sunshine of the spotless. Mind. I could go on the hurt locker Django unchained her. These are movies that I think we have a lot of fun unpacking on podcast that we think about that that certain stick with me a lot of the time. But you're right. Almost never almost been. Sometimes you get Fargo or Shakespeare in love and these categories. Yeah. Win best picture. Yeah. It's it's not common. Yeah. What about adapted adapted? Curious is a curious group of movies this year? I'll read through them the ballot of BUSTER Scruggs by the Coen brothers, which is based on the short stories all gold canyon by Jack London. And the gal who got rattled by Stewart Edward white cancer. I read that one black klansman which was written by Spike Lee, David Rabinowitz, Charlie walked ole and Kevin Willmott. It's based on the memoir of black clansmen by Ron stallworth, can you ever forgive me, which is written by Nicole hall center. And Jeff Whitty the memoirs by Lee, Israel, if you'll streak could talk by very Jenkins based on the novel by James Baldwin. And a star is born which is written by Bradley Cooper will fetters and Eric Roth and based on the nineteen fifty four film by moss Hart, and the nineteen seventy six film written by Joan Dibbin, John, Gregory Dunne and Frank Pearson with a story by Robert Carson, and William a Wellman that is a mouthful original week is easy to understand. This comes from the mind of imagination this came out. It's a whole cloth adapted is interesting because I think when you at first blush, you'd think there was a novel and was a good novel and a writer had to sit down and translate that medium into the medium of the screenplay for screen. That's not always what happens, and I don't feel like that's really what's happening here. Either the ballot of busters Crosby nominated. Here's super weird. 'cause it's a six segment film. Four of the segments are wholly original two of them are based on short stories. So this goes into the adapted category. Yeah. I mean, some of this is just kind of being rule nerds, right which mentor? Yeah. Which is odd black klansman. If you've read that book, you know, that it is not to the letter how the film turned out cracks and certainly in the third act. Can you ever? Forgive me feels fairly close. If feels Rica talk is very close though. Some things are changed in the in the attitude and stars born is this Stu of three previous films and a lot of influences. And a lot of anxieties. What is the front on her? Actually, don't know. I think it's by clansman. And I think that the thinking there is gives bike an Oscar. I think you're right. That's kind of disappointing. I actually would rather have him invest director than discreet screenplay because this is not my favorite screenplay of spikes. I agree with you. But again, I think even in this category. It's kind of just making sure that everybody gets a little love and won a weird Oscar is better than no Oscar is kind of my theory is it goes to spike suppose. That's true. I think if Beijing has not one for moonlight. There might be a little bit more you'll street. Yeah. But he did I think he won in wanted screenplay. Yeah. Yeah. Adapted as well. Yes. He and Torello mccranie. One a star. More. Now, I think it's a really good scrimped. I think it's really great script as well. But we also like that movie, and they have not been paying attention to this movie at all. Yeah. And I, you know, I think it's an achievement because it really makes sense of a lot of different sources some that are stronger than others, and it brings everything together and brings its own ideas and advances them, which is actually what attitude is I think it is. Actually, a great adaptation. I don't know that like the fine art of adapting is what's being rewarded in this category? It's true. I wonder how much of the sort of genius Evatt movie is oriented around those little touches that we talked about on the rewatch Ables, or if it's oriented around the I don't know the big glamorous historical adaptation quality of it. It's a little hard to say this. These are some pretty weird categories. If you look at the writers guild awards are little the different. Well, they have different eligiblity roles as I understand it. I do but the their eligibility. Rules, ultimately resulted in. I thought a few more interesting touches in original screenplay in particular, eighth grade is nominated and a quiet place is nominated which I'd like to get a look at the shooting script for quite place because there's so little dialogue. Yeah. I wonder how many pages Iran, it's pretty much the same for adapted screenplay with rare exception. The Black Panther finds its way into category the black script. It's very good. Yes. And it's very strange that is not here to me. Now. I realize it's a marvel movie. That's a factor. I think also that idea of that is adapting that is taking some source material and being like okay here. Here's what I'm going to do with this. And here's everything that I'm gonna checked in to this. And you know, I don't know that they are. I don't think that like people are comparing scripts and source material when thinking about these nominations, I think you're right. I mean, I think also BUSTER Scruggs and the name recognition of the Coen brothers taking the place of Black Panther in in in this. Race feels very pointed. They're more people in the WGN than there are writers who vote for the Oscars while the writers who the Oscars little bit older in voting on the stuff for a long time. Maybe not as familiar with Ryan cooler. Maybe they don't like what superhero movies have done to their award show. And that incursion leads to you know, I I love bus Scruggs on the record about that. I'm not sure that it's the script accomplishment. The Black Panther is in terms of what it had to accomplish in a fairly small frame. What what are their thoughts about the this race there to women nominated in this entire race? Deborah Davis for the favourite Bromley going to win and cohost center. It's nice is cynical house center. You know, how classic Nicole center is not for one of her own screenplays her screenplay, Sean, you should be in the Smithsonian. She is one of the great writers less twenty five years. So that's unfortunate. Right. But I mean, this is it's nice to be there only to amend is disappointing and also indicative of a year where there weren't that many. Thumbs by women in the films that were by women were not taking seriously, which is I don't know how many times can we talk about it. I know I'm confused by the writers guild timing the awards happened on the seventeenth, which is at the tail end of the voting time for the Oscars themselves. So I suspect that this won't have a huge influence necessarily and the absence of some of these movies to indicates that it doesn't matter as much as say the DJ, which is very influential unhealthy outcome of the Oscars. Like, I said voting opens today, it's exciting. It's finally happening. And then we'll have a couple of episodes next week. We'll talk about some Oscar narrative, some broader themed ideas, and then we're going to do a big predictions blow out we're gonna go through all we will go through all twenty four categories. Unlike the academy on their own telecast, and we will say this is what's going to win and not win. And I'm gonna say to you. What do you think about best animated short? I was gonna say even the shorts. We will discuss the shorts. Please do not listen to Sean about my short slander. Let me ask you a question. Will you be watching all of the shorts or will? You just be going to go. Older we dot com, and then making a choice, really honest with you. I was already looking on gold there before any of this information. And there's none to be had like if you try googling short documentary, or whatever it's just a list of the films that no one is doing this work. So if you wanna make your name as an Oscar blogger in two thousand nineteen I have got an assignment for you. I will say to the listeners out there all five documentaries shorts or now available online if you'd like to watch those the enemy to it's a little bit more difficult to find if you live in New York earlier, perhaps you can see them in a movie theater if not tough shit. Amanda, this has been fun. I will see you next week on the Oscar show. Thanks, sean. Now, please stay tuned for my conversation with nNcholas till the Academy Award nominated composer. Absolutely. Delighted to be joined by nNcholas Patel who is Oscar nominated for Beale street could talk Nick. Thank you for coming in here today. Thank you so much for having me here. So Nick, this is your second nomination. Yeah. After moonlight film. You also made it Barry Jenkins. I wanna talk all about your work. But I'm always curious, especially with composers the first time, you remember hearing film music, and what your relationship to fill music was as a young person. So I have a very specific initial experience with with music, and with film music, which is when I was five years old. I saw chariots of fire, and I was obsessed with the movie and the theme that the in the score by Vangelis just took over for me. And so after watching it we had this very old upright piano in our apartment on western avenue. And I, you know, the theme, you know, I'm even outside of the melody of you know, it just has that done. And and you know, that sort of goes headed of note, so I could do that. And I went over, and I was like trying to figure it out. And I I was five. Okay. I was I was really into that theme. So and I asked my mom for channel lessons. So so for me, film and music in so many ways have were were connected from the very beginning. And did you become a person who was kind of obsessed with this? Because you're obviously composer in not just for film scores. You've written other pieces than you, you work on all sorts of things. But specifically did you have kind of your guys or your people that you followed in their careers as far as the composers and the music. I mean, I think I grew up in the eighties, and there, you know, I just loved movies. I mean, there are so many movies that I was into, you know, every I mean, and the scores from for whatever the reason, you know, my my brain would just be attracted to the music in the movies. And I thought, you know, listening to Elmer Bernstein score in Ghostbusters was as amazing to me is listening to Mozart's Jupiter symphony or something, you know. And I became a classical pianist. So I, you know, was, you know, just as into Mozart and Bach and Schumann, and you know, what have you? But I I never saw any difference between music in any genre field is this music. Just happened to be in a film. And in a lot of think for me, I've always found music NFL m- to be many times even more powerful than when it's not in a film. There's something about that bizarre alchemy of music connecting with an image. That does some certainly doesn't mean to me. And I think there is something inherent in that where you know, when when those things connect like the music opens up something in the picture and the picture is doing the same. It's it's changing your perception of the music. So yeah, I like there's there's a lot of pieces all like listening to even more in a movie than even outside of interesting. Were you a dissecting like would you try to break down scores? Even at a young age the way that you did with visuals. Oh, yeah. And actually, what's interesting is film scores. Oftentimes, the sheet music doesn't get published and this is something. That's that's just interesting with film us getting a general, which is that you know, like if I want to stay. Thirty a Beethoven symphony from gonna understand Beethoven seventy I can go by the music. I can look at every note in the whole symphony. If I want to study, you know, Danielsson's Beetlejuice score ITO. There are more composers who are publishing those things. But the full orchestra scores of of a lot of foam music are not available, and it's maybe starting to change has that changed at all and receive a little bit. But it's few and far between, you know. And I and I I've always I've had a little bit of sort of a private crusade. Maybe of like feeling that that as an art form those scores should be available to young composers or yours published. I was able to publish three pieces from moonlight. We published little steam middle of the world, and this piece the culmination, which is sort of a larger orchestrated version of the chefs special queue in moonlight. But but I think I mean. I would love to polish more more. It's an interesting thing. I was going to wait to ask you about this because I want to know more about kind of your life, and what got you here but middle middle of the world makes me think of how that has become very quickly kind of iconic film score. And what is that like when you have worked on something very closely with Barry, and that becomes a signature now, I feel like I'm hearing it in places where it wasn't originally intended. And so it feels like it's in a commercial, or it's just being used in sort of ambient ways like these YouTube mixes, people are just dropping it in. What is that like for you for something that you've made very specifically for something to kind of permeate into the world. It's really I mean, I'm so honored, you know, getting an opportunity to score film is already a very special, you know, privilege and opport- in opportunity, but I think that for you know, for me and for Barry me when we were working on moonlight. We cared so profoundly about the project. And I think that the the dream of any project is you wanna share it? And you want people you don't just want to share it you want people to connect with it or to feel what you were feeling when. You made it, and I think the the further that journey goes the more special it is. So, you know, if you had said to me for years ago that that music would have gone around the world in various ways. I, you know, I I don't even know if I would have believed that because it's just it's not even you know, it's impossible to imagine those things happening. So let's go back a little bit you, obviously, it sounds like you were a prodigy. Maybe probably wouldn't describe yourself that way. But it's your found sounds like you were very gifted of the young age, and it's you pursued music, but you didn't do you study music in college as well. So I I was I was a classical pianist. And then I went to I went to high school, I grew up in Manhattan. And then we moved to Westport Connecticut when I was thirteen. So we lived in Westport when I was a sort of high school years, and then I would commute into Juilliard pre college, which the Julia has a pre college program that I went to from fourteen to eighteen study. You know, piano performance. Harmony counterpoint, you know, sofa compositions, or what have you I took organ lessons. I was really into the pipework love the pipe organ. It's amazing. And in college. I I knew in high school are starting to get the sense that being a classical concert pianist wasn't the life. The thing for me. What made you realize that? So I mean, there's a lot of different questions. I think it would ask myself, and I was recently thinking about this quote from there's a book called genius about Richard Feynman, the physicist, and there's a moment where he talks about or the author talks about how when Richard Feynman was in MIT, he was studying pure mathematics and one day. I think the professor was talking about some very abstruse point in in higher math and firemen, you know, sort of raise his hand was like a wire, why are we learning? And the professor said if you have to ask this might not be the place for you. And I remember reading them high school of myself, if I have to ask myself all the time if I want to be a concert pianist. And I think you know, that kind of an idea of like, I think there are things that you never ask yourself that you just know that you're following. And I was asking as of all the time. So I think some of that played a role in me going not going to conservatory for college men in college. I studied psychology that was my concentration, and I ended up, you know, in every psych class that I took I ended up trying to find a way to explore neuro musical Aji about how the brain understands music and Harvard was wonderful in the way that there were certain courses, you could even sort of request where you could find a professor who's willing to just read research with you. And you could meet them once a week talk about it and write papers. So, you know, I did that with narrow music, for example. And you know, those were those were you know, it was amazing. Just getting that chance to think about those ideas because for me. Music is such a mysterious phenomenon. And I think it's so it's almost like so woven into our lives that we don't step back to think about how how odd it is that there are these like, you know, air pressure changes frequencies in the air that somehow connect with our ears. And then the connection of all frequencies leads to very profound emotions that are very even incredibly specific at times. And that's it's this huge alchemy. That's happening with music, and I was just curious like what what is that? And no one really knows which is the sort of quick answers. I think you know, we haven't reached a point where we really understand the brain very, well, there's a lot of theories and ideas, but, but as drew you to studying that because you know, ultimately, you didn't go to a conservatory, even though you were deeply interested in music, and then you pulled music through into your academic studies and your higher learning. And then you come. Back to music, ultimately. Although you did do some things in between. Yes. Is there a part of you that when you were a teenager thought, I don't wanna make this my life, or this doesn't feel like a lifestyle that I would be happy in I always dreamed of what it would be like to be of a musician, actually. And and to do that fulltime. I think it was that growing up, you know, the idea like I love I love playing music. I loved listening to music studying is I loved writing music, but there's also something about I think the idea of what a composer is where for example, you know, especially I think if you have a classical background, you know, you're you're confronted with these larger than life almost superhuman figures right away, you know, ideas of people like a Mozart or Beethoven, they're they're almost not human there. So far beyond your conception of what's possible. So I never thought of myself as a composer. I was like those composers. I, you know, I just like music, and it was really being it was. Really in college where two things happened. One thing was I joined a hip hop band with some very dear friends of mine, we were instrumental hip hop band was six instrumentalists and then to rappers. So we played live. So you know is electric bass drums electric guitar. I was on keys synthesizer. I right. A lot of the music. We'd have Congo player. We'd a DJ and then we'd two rappers. And I started writing music all the time. Like, it was it became a daily habit where I would be studying audio production and making my own tracks and beats and really, you know, rabbit hole fully immersed and at the exact same time. Very dear friend of mine, Nick Lavelle who tragically passed away if years ago approached me and said that he was making a ten thousand dollar feature film while we were in college called domino one. And he wanted to know if I would try scoring it and both of those things happening, basically exactly the same time led me on this path of just. Writing is it because I loved it all the time and get, you know, working with Nick and getting to like experiment with you know, looking at scenes and just trying to write stuff on my keyboard? And you know, there were no rules. We just had so much fun with it. And that was really the moment. Where for me? I was like, you know, what I didn't want to be a conservationist that it was an incredible training. And I love playing the piano play all the time. But I think the specificity of that life was something that that was what I wasn't drawn to and more and more. I I've come to that sort of feeling that so much of our lives is just like how do you spend the hours of your day? But even at that time, we were working on that film, yet didn't alternately become your professional life after college. Right. So I so having was the movie I thought that that either are bam was gonna get signed. We were. I mean, we were very serious about the band, you were talking to labels and receive the Scott Storch of this band of trying to figure out what your your comp is. That's pretty much I wished I was Scott. Yeah. We I mean, we were obsessed with like chronic two thousand one for example, you know. But no, I was you know, I thought the band was gonna sign we were very very serious about it. We performed all over the northeast are high point was we opened for Jurassic five and black Alicia. So that was like that was our dream. We were in college right about the same time. So. Exactly. No. You know, what we were just on that you were in it. And then I thought or and or I thought the movie might come out, you know, like, oh, you know, we're gonna find it's going to get released. So unfortunately, the time neither of those things happened. Our band started to break up, and then it became clear that the journey of the film would be very long, and we didn't really know where things were going and just by total happenstance. I met someone who had gone to Harvard who himself was a composer who worked in finance. And he was like, you know, I was looking for job. I wanted to live New York. And he said, look, you know, we'll find something for you to do here. He sort of kind of solve the different things I was doing and that seemed interesting to him, and he kind of took a chance on me. So I I ended up learning to trade currencies, and I would give you know, still give concerts, I even give concerts for like our investors. I would score all my friends short films all the time. I would write telephone hold music. I would do anything that would come my way. 'cause I just wanted to be doing. But I think our lives all take sort of circuitous past sometimes, and I reached a point after you know, after years where I realized I was I was actually very unhappy. And I wasn't following this idea that I think I had always thought I would of being musician. And you know, you give things time, you know, you I think you have to be patient. But it was very clear that, you know, being a concentrator wasn't my dream in life and quit my job and started making these pilgrimages out to Los Angeles to, you know, find anyone who have sit with and have a coffee with me. I'm curious particularly early meetings and days or you're trying things together. How do you pitch yourself as a composer? It's a good question. What would you know? I I think it was. I would talk about you know, the the project had worked on. I would talk about you know, my band, or or or this film. I had examples of my music with like mix tapes. I see that would have. And what else like, you know on? It was really, you know, looking for potential collaborators just saying if it wasn't even so much. Hey, are you looking for a composer? It was do you possibly know? Anyone whom I know anybody who might know anyone who would sit down with me where I could possibly explore that, you know. 'cause 'cause it's it is it is, you know, it's a vast world out here. And I had some very dear friends who would connect me with people in and it took a while because film music is its own universe. You know, it's a very specific, you know, a very specific community of of composers orchestrators and engineers, and and there really is this very focused industry. But sometimes it's hard to find your way to it. And for me in some ways, actually, I would say ask cap, I'm part of ask Avin, they were really phenomenal at providing advice and resources. And I did I apply and did a program called the Ascot Columbia workshop where they would pair composers with, you know, graduate students in their film program who were making their senior thesis film and the base for ten weeks. You have weekly seminars, and you would work closely with with a director, and then they would pay for an entire recording session with like players from the New York Philharmonic to come. I mean, it was amazing. Wow. And you know, I I think I started just, you know, kind of trying to do anything like I would go to lot of film festivals. That was something that was very helpful just to almost go through the motions of being in the industry. Like, you know, seeing what is the what is the lifeblood of this industry? Whereas what where do things happen. So I had no specific game plan, you know, and all the while still thinking, oh, maybe domino. One's gonna come out one year. We never knew. So did you have a sort of the proverbial big break. Did you have a moment? We like. This is what I'm going to do. Now at least for this time period. When I quit my job. I said to myself. I mean, I knew this is what I wanted to do. It wasn't a let's see if this works. I think I said to myself like I'm just going to do this. And I knew that it would take a long time. It had already taken a long time. I started. I mean, I started scoring Knicks film in two thousand one and this was two thousand ten you know, so that's already nine years. And then I, but I said I was like you know, what I've been waiting while. I'm just going to keep doing my thing. So yeah, I didn't have I don't know. I I thought I assumed that somehow I would get some work. An ultimately, I did it was it was interesting though, it was through friends actually, it was through a very close friend of mine who I met through other friends of mine in college Adam Leon who had been friends with for, you know, a decade already. He was making a a his first feature. Debut, which was mill gimme the loot. And I remember hearing from a friend that he was hit finished shooting. It was editing it and as long as my friend Jay games, like if you talk to Adam about his movie, and I realize I hadn't and I just reached out. And I said, look, you know, new pressure. If you happen to need any music or anything at all just let me know animals like actually, we need a composer. So I worked without Amman. Gimme loop. And I had already I've worked with them before. There was a short film that he co-directed with our other friend Jack Riccobono called killer a few years before. So you know, that was the thing. I was always scoring a lot of short films. That was just a loved it. I thought it was it was awesome. So gimme the loot was the first indie feature, and it got it it, you know, it was getting released. It went to can it one south by southwest. So that was really the first kind of indie feature that I had that people may have seen serious credit. Yeah. So explain for me and people like me who don't. Anything how the scoring process actually works because I feel like maybe it's a little bit different with how you in berry work. But maybe in general, you can help listeners understand where does it start. Do you ever come in with any preconceived music? Do you? How much of it is born of conversations with filmmakers. Maybe you can walk us through a little bit of that methodology. Absolutely. It is the, you know, there are many ways to score film. And and I think the biggest takeaways, you know, there are no rules. There's no right way a wrong way to score movie. The key is a director has has shot a film, and you know, there's this whole film team. That's putting this movie together, and it starts to be edited. And there's this question of, you know, do we have music what music where does it go? How does that work? I happened to have had the, you know, I think the lucky sort of opportunity to work early on many of these projects where you know, on moonlight actually met buried before he had shot the movie, we we did talk about some early ideas. On street was the same thing where we started early. Adam McCain, I we we do the same thing where we actually talk I met Adam while he was shooting the big short. But I was I was actually able to send him ideas and play him some music before he started even putting the movie together. But the big picture thing is it's a, you know, it's an exploration the music the way that the music works in a movie is going to be different for every composer. And every director, and that's kind of what's beautiful about it. You know, there's no there's no one way to do it. So for me the way I approach it is you have these early conversations. Ideally, you re descript possibly, or, you know, you get to hear from the director what how they want the movie to feel what do they have any early ideas musically? Now, is it gonna be sci-fi texture is gonna be strings is going to, you know, even early instinct, which, you know, those early ideas, there is no way to know if they're gonna be right? You know, the whole process is this very. Iterative exploratory experimental thing. I mean, there there may very well be composers who who work differently for sure. I mean, there's it's very personal approach. But I think for me I learned what the movie wants as I go, you know, like on on Beale street. There were certain ideas. The Barry would say to me like early on. He said he said he was imagining the sound of brass and horns its first thing he said, and this was before shot the movie, so I started experimenting with Flugel horns, French horns, cornet and trumpets. And I wrote some music and I played it for him. Right. When he was doing some early cuts of the movie, and what was interesting was he loved the music on its own. And then when we put it with the picture, it was it was just wasn't quite right. It was missing something didn't feel like it was there's something about music. I think when it works in a film that it just feels like it's almost like inside the movie, it's just in it. It's connected. It's in the fabric of the movie. And there's an when acute doesn't quite work. You know, when you take a piece of music, and it just doesn't quite work. It feels like it's like sitting on top of them. It just doesn't end. I don't I have no idea. What why I don't know? What that is. It is really mysterious, but you helped chemical it's chemical, but you have to respect it. You know, there's something end. So so much of this process as being kind of humble with your ideas, because it's about the movie, you know, we want the movie to be the best. It can be. I want the feeling of the movie to be what the director is is hoping their movie it could feel like so until we get there. You know, I'm not done, and I'm not happy until we're at that moment. So for example, with Beale street, we discovered that it was strings, and in particular was the sound of cello 's that represented something of this feeling of love that's NBL street cause Beal streets about love, and it's about injustice, and as regards love deals with so many kinds of love. There's there's an almost sense of divine. Unconditional love in the film, there's romantic love there's erotic love. There's the love the parents have for their children. There's a feeling of friendship and brotherly love and the strings the way that we would evolve the strings through the film was was all all to that end. You know, it was somehow those cello felt like love, and then that opened a door of saying, well, what if I took this the music, I wrote for brass what if I played that on cello 's and that would open door, and then we'd say we'll actually what if I then mix some brass back in with these cello. And you know, we start just uncovering things in every scenes different. So it's a very, you know, I don't want that to sound overly complicated. It's really just a journey like where you know, buried, and and joy and NAT his editors are working together. They're trying things out with the film. They're seeing how the film's going to live as one piece, and I'm doing the same thing where I'm looking at different sequences, and I'm trying things out. And we're having these conversations where Barrio come to my studio, New York. And will sit in the room for days on end and watch the movie in order shakes can just like try stuff out. And it's really fun because we don't we don't know we really don't. And yet when you find that thing that works. It is it's it's a feeling unlike anything else, and I think those are those moments that you that you really sort of striving for those moments where you discover you write something, and then the way that it connects is sort of inexplicable, and I really do think that's that's one of the things that I'm always seeking as those those kind of special moments where unav- personal level, you know, you you've learned something you've emotionally kind of discovered something and you've done it together. You know, it's not just me something by myself doing that at me and Barry were sitting there together. And we're and we're both feeling something. And it's a really joyful kind of moment when that happens like back, Barron. I always talk about we re remember those moments. You know, like we were talking about that piece middle of the world like. I remember when I sort of connected something there with Barry. I did it in front of him. You know, I was like writing this with him there. And you know, those moments we I don't think we'll ever forget is it ever not that way. Because even as we're talking. This is the second time we've spoken, and you already made two references to different physicists that our conversations one on Mike and one off and you're obviously, very I apologize. I know it's fascinating. But you're you're brilliant person. And also, you have this background hip hop to which is sort of produce Oriole style of music where you kind of have signature sounds, and you have moves, and maybe you have sort of an archive of things you can go to and I'm wondering if you have like a bag of tricks for lack of a better phrase, the you know, like I'm going into a project. I know I've always wanted to something like this. I know that I've, you know have an idea for X. Do you approach certain projects that way too? That's an awesome question because I wrote so much music when I was in college. And and in the you know years after that. And I think one of the things that happens is there are certain we all have certain things that we like, you know, like, especially musicians, I thank, you know, with their certain chords that movie was certain way, there are certain shapes of melodies that just means something to you. You know? I mean, I think music does mean something to so many people, and I think for me as a composer there, are there are sort of things that you gravitate towards, but I would actually say that I often tried to go away from those things because it's almost easy to fall into. Oh, you know, I I like that move. And then you, you know, you find yourself doing it. And you're like no have done that. Like, I I don't wanna do that again, or I don't wanna do that right now, you know, or or is there a new way to think about that? You know? I mean, there are certain chord progressions that means something to me in some way. And I think if I ever, you know, go in a certain direction, I want to always keep a kind of knew of. Of if that makes sense, I think actually even down to playing the piano where piano such a physical thing. It's this. You know, your your your body learns the piano as much or maybe even more than your mind us. Sometimes I feel like when I said the piano, my body just sort of goes to certain places, and because of that I think if I'm writing I don't always right at the Pano often right at the computer, or you know, what I'm traveling. I'll just write with pencil and paper. But at the piano, there certain things you go towards and I will often try to play in keys that are not the the usual keys because your hands are sort of almost forced to go to places, they don't usually go, and you find stuff that you wouldn't other like if I if I'm going to de-miner or c or a like I'm gonna go to similar stuff that I would. But I'm like, you know, what it's being f sharp minor. Let's be an e flat. Minor. Let's be somewhere like that. I don't know you're gonna find I for me. I would find some other stuff. They're just because my hands are sort of like, oh, where are we interested in the language that you and filmmakers have before you start writing or even while while you're in the act of writing is it because I think people imagine that if you're working with Ataman vice? Yeah, is it like majesty cereal, but doomed you know, like what are the do? You have like a checklist of words that you're identifying and then you're applying the sort of feelings in instruments and notes that you need to write to fit. Those words there is a sort of mapping that starts to happen. And I think the key thing for me is always talking to directors about emotions. That's that's my focus eve-, even among musicians. I think talking about musical terminology doesn't always help you if I'm talking from talking to an orchestras where recording, you know, saying I need more of a crescendo here as we're going into, you know, g minor like sure that's very specific. But I might actually say here's what's happening in the scene. Here's actually how I want you to feel like. This is a moment of doom or whatever, you know, that the drama the storytelling of that. I think is much more important and for for scoring and for working with directors. It really is about that. You know, we're saying EY. What's happening in the scene? How do you wanna feel? We can explore that emotion. Like, what is is? This a sad moment. Or there's the other question of like, what are we actually trying to say because the music is is not always supposed to enhance what you're seeing the music. Oftentimes is supposed to tell you something. You're not seeing you're gonna wanna hear something else. It could be that. You're seeing a moment of doom. But you're actually supposed to be hearing where we're going which is love or another character or something else happening. And I think those are the things I really love where the music kind of plays its own story. And it's actually the interaction of those two stories that you that opens up this this other thing because sometimes you know, when you're you know, there's that metaphor like a hat on a hat. Like, you know, you don't need out on that. There are times amplifying something, of course. Absolutely. You know, there are times action needs to be amplified. But I'm always fascinated when it's, you know, you're seeing accent you're hearing why it's really interesting, I'm curious, you know, you have a very sophisticated understanding of the films that you work on perhaps more. So than some of your peers, you can agree or disagree about that. I'm interested in the way that you choose projects because there seems to be something progressive and forward thinking about the films that you work on and wondering how important it is that you believe in the story in believing the ideas of the filmmaker to do something or and maybe things will change in the future. If you'd be willing to work on some sort of more of an intellectual challenge, but not necessarily something you feel aligned with. I think that music is a very, you know, music special to me and connecting emotions in sharing those emotions I think is very has a meaning in a way. And I do I do. Really try to choose projects that I think have a at least to me a deeper significance where I feel I can connect to it. If I if I don't feel, you know, a having a director in amazing director is something that you know, I would go to the ends of the earth for bear Jenkins or Adam McKay. So you know, whatever marry wants to work on I would love to do. So that's thirty a simple answer there. But, but I think in a big picture sense. You know, there's some I think films are way of disseminating not just ideas, but feelings, but ideas, and oftentimes it can be a very powerful thing where people really understand things through. I think through people understand things through their gut and away through their feelings. That's maybe a deeper kind of understanding than you know, we're talking about ideas, you can agree or disagree. But when you feel those ideas, it's a whole other kind of state, and I think that you know, if I can work on a film that that I believe in and I can be a part of. Creating a sort of sense of emotion around certain ideas that I believe in. I think that for me, that's a very that can be a very poignant experience. This is a ringer podcast. I'm legally obligated to ask you about succession. That's that's our favorite show here. Expect you wrote the theme obviously in all of the music in the show is that right? Just can you talk a little bit about the construction of the theme which is a bit of a theme song in this in these offices. Absolutely by thank you know. I love working on succession. I when I I I talked to Adam about it quite a few years ago. And there was a period of time where I worked with Ataman Jesse Armstrong creator, the show show runner, and we met up, and I played some early ideas. And it really was kind of what we were talking about before where there were these early experiences. This was while they were shooting the pilot where I invited actually Jesse came over to my studio, New York, and I was just playing him some ideas just again who knows where these things come from. But I remember saying him like, I think it'd be cool. If there were like weird like zen bell sounds. He was great. And then I was like, you know, waste our Royko. They have sort of a theme. I wanna like right that seem and then I want to you know, think about ways of weaving things together. And then I played him a couple ideas that had this kind of mixture of a huge hip hop beat. And you know, I guess I would I would characterize it as sort of like a insane out of tune, piano. That'd be no sort of almost circus like piano, and I think there was something sort of dark, but it was also kind of absurd at the same time. And for me that sort of opened during Jesse was into it. Right. I mean, he was like I like this. He's like right away. How could you know, he was he was feeling it right away? And and that was exciting because he was so open to me to me trying stuff and Adam was the same way. And when I was working on on vice and Beale street, I was actually living mckay's house with mckay's in their pool house. So well, so I would here in LA over here. Exactly. And you know, I lived with the mckays for the first time on the big short that summer suit really in the family. I mean, I love the mckays. I love and but it's great because we we had the chance to talk about a lot of things, and I could play atom ideas and show him things. I mean, we, you know, Adam Adam loves working on these projects. And and I do so we really do immerse ourselves fulltime like we are constantly working on this stuff. But yeah, I think the succession sound if volved from those early conversations where I felt that I wanted there to be something classical, especially with some of the piano motifs. And for me something very important with any project is how do we evolve it because I think that's actually the for me. That's the more interesting journey than anything else is if I come up with an idea that feels like it's connected to a project somehow how where does it go? You know, I don't want always ten ideas. That's that's not going to connect things. What if I have a few ideas, but those ideas themselves they're going to shape shift of the course of a project, and we are gonna. Feel that Chander we're gonna learn something. And how it's changing that to me is something really interesting like the development of those ideas. So with succession, you know, started with some of the piano, then strings than weird woodwinds, then as we go guitars and banjos, and I mean, it was just this constant kind of fun and. Yeah. Adam and Jesse were just always encouraging. So you know, that that is the dream where you have collaborators who and look not everything always works. I mean, there's always there's always times where they're like, you know, what I don't know if we ensure of course, I think one of the biggest learning experiences for me was that television is different from movies because there's so much more real estate. I mean, you have ten hours of material versus let's say two hours on a movie in what you do with all that space and the bigger question was, you know, where do you where do you put music I didn't want to compete with the tone in certain places. You know, if something's supposed to be funny. How do we explore that in and succession really was a fascinating tonal landscape where it is both very serious dark at times. But it's also, you know, very absurdly funny. I mean, yeah, it's both of those things. And for me. I think the answer was the music always has to be serious nickel. Just come more questions for you. You're working on season two, I presume. Yeah. That's just started right now. Is there a score recently that you heard that you're jealous of I would say, I mean, there are scores that I think, you know, I'm impressed with you know, and I think it's I think very much for me. You know, it's not there's no there's no emotion or competition because for me like everyone, you know, when someone scores a movie, it's it is that kind of personal expression. So definitely not a jealousy thing in. Anyway. I was very impressed with Anna Merida's score for eighth grade. I thought that was amazing. Yeah. What about to die? That was unique those really Nique. And I thought that you know, for me, a good score is something that feels like it's almost like bringing out the soul of film. And it was so woven into that universe. That. I actually tried to do that thing when I'm watching mousse sentence where I'm like, let me imagine that score not there, and I couldn't I couldn't imagine like some other score. And so I. I think that's always kind of testament where if a score feels like inevitable. It feels like there was no other choice there, you know. And so that was one where I couldn't imagine the movie without that. And I love the movie that's very good. Is there any part of you that wants to go back to concert pianist Ernie? Do you have any pangs should I be more a four facing performer? I've gotten through the work of in doing I've gotten the opportunity to play more. I know I I love I love playing. I love playing. I've record, you know, almost all the piano that I that's in projects. I will play for example, except if it's were kestrel, and if I'm conducting that I won't play. Okay. So like advice, the solo piano, is me the piano that you would hear an orchestra is not me. That's a wonderful pianist name, Dave heartland, London. Nick, I ended up sort of this show by asking filmmakers. What's the last? Great thing that they have seen. So you are technically filmmaker. What is the last great thing that you have seen? I said a good, you know, honestly, I. I've watched it a few times. But I I love Roma. I thought it was amazing. The first person to say that I thought it was amazing. And I know joke today was able to meet Afonso Koran, and I was just sort of stammering when I was like. It was like I I think I said something like I think about children of men every day. You know, I feel like the level of my incoherence is is is it's proportional to my my my feeling for his film. So so, yeah, I would say Roma just because to me it felt like this world it felt like it was it was more than a movie in a way I felt like I was teleported somewhere and just existing. They're watching this story, Nick, that's your music those for people. So thanks for doing this. Good luck. Thank you.

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