Hollywood played host to the 94th Annual Academy Awards last night at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. It was a memorable occasion for all kinds of reasons, not least of all the fact that the awards for music were not featured in the main show.


The absence of the prize-giving for the music categories was cause for some outrage in the industry. A clutch of awards categories (eight in fact) were sidelined for the big show in order to shorten the proceedings. Notable names who voiced their concern at the absence of the music prizes include five-time Oscar-winning composer John Williams.

That didn’t stop music playing it’s part, however, with live performances a key part of the show from an ‘All Star Band’ and live orchestra, led by the show’s music director Adam Blackstone.

Dune dominated the winners list with six Oscars, including one for Best Original Score. Han Zimmer’s music had a huge impact in the film, with its otherwordly sound design and heady mix of orchestral, vocal and electronic colours.

The competition was fierce this year, with Zimmer up against Jonny Greenwood, for The Power of the Dog (his second nomination), Nicholas Britell for Don’t Look Up (his third nomination), Germain Franco for Encanto (her first nomination) and Alberto Iglesias for Parallel Mothers (his fourth nomination).

The win for Dune is Zimmer’s second Oscar and comes just two weeks afrer he won his first-ever BAFTA. His first Oscar win was for his original score for Disney’s The Lion King back in 1995, the composer receiving nine further nominations in the intervening years. His first ever nomination was for Rain Main (1988), the score which launched his Hollywood career.

The composer is currently on tour in Europe and was unable to attend the ceremony. He shared on Instagram that his daughter Zoe woke him at 2am in his Amsterdam hotel to tell him the news.

This year’s winner for Best Original Song also had a connection to Zimmer, as Billie Eilish and Finneas’s Bond hit ‘No Time to Die’ features his orchestral arrangement. Their win marks a hat-trick run for Bond songs, as the prior two songs – Adele's 'Skyfall' (from Skyfall) and Sam Smith's 'Writing's On The Wall' (from Spectre) both took home the same prize.

Eilish and Finneas performed their song as part of the ceremony. Indeed four of the five Best Original Song nominees featured in live performances – only Van Morrison couldn’t attend to perform his song from Belfast as he is currently on tour. Beyoncé performed her number ‘Be Alive’, penned for the Williams sisters tennis drama King Richard, while Reba McEntire sang ‘Somehow You Do’ from the film Four Good Days, written by legendary songwriter Diane Warren (her 12th nomination).

Disney’s smash-hit Encanto also featured in the line-up with two song performances. Sébastian Yatra sang Lin-Manuel Miranda’s nominated ballad ‘Dos Oruguitas’ while the show opened with the phenomenally popular song, ‘We Don’t Talk About Bruno’. Many fans felt that song should have been nominated, so it was great to have the Academy tip its hat to the song’s success. The film went on to win the Oscar for Best Animated Feature.


Photo of Hans Zimmer / Getty Images


Michael BeekReviews Editor, BBC Music Magazine

Michael is the Reviews Editor of BBC Music Magazine. He was previously a freelance film music journalist and spent 15 years at St George's Bristol. Michael specialises in film and television music and was the Editor of MusicfromtheMovies.com. He has written for the BBC Proms, BBC Concert Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Albert Hall, Hollywood in Vienna and Silva Screen Records.