As the “Academy Award-nominated” descriptor starts to sink in for 2011’s newly anointed Oscar nominees, Billboard.biz gathered reactions from the following composers and songwriters recognized in the music categories of best original score and song: Trent Reznor, A.R. Rahman, Hans Zimmer, Tony Douglas, Randy Newman, Alan Menken and John Powell. Here’s what they had to say:
Nominated for best original score for “127 Hours” and best original song for “If I Rise,” from “127 Hours”
“I thought I would get maybe one [nomination] for either the score or the song, but to get two was definitely a surprise. I was entering a hotel in Zurich and I checked my email, and there was the news.
“Last time I worked with M.I.A. [on the ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ soundtrack], and she’s more of a rapper and has very good ideas. Dido [who collaborated with Rahman on ‘If I Rise’] is very melodic and has an extraordinarily healing voice. So it’s two different personalities, but both of them work for me.
“It felt good for me to work on ‘127 Hours,’ but at the same time I had to be careful because it wasn’t an Indian score [like ‘Slumdog Millionaire’]. But Danny [Boyle, the director] didn’t have any doubts about it, so I didn’t have any doubts, either.
Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross
Nominated for best original score for “The Social Network”
“When David [Fincher, the director] approached us to write the score for ‘The Social Network’ we were intrigued and excited to see what we could bring to the project — but truly couldn’t imagine it would lead to an Oscar nomination. We are extremely grateful to the Academy and very proud to have contributed to David’s vision.”
Nominated for best original score for “The King’s Speech”
“It’s only five composers a year, so being on the short list is a huge win for each of us. There’s many, many great composers that also deserve to be there, so humbly I’m very proud and really honored.
“Tom [Hooper, the director] offered me the music prior to starting ‘Harry Potter.’ I just had a window before starting ‘Deathly Hallows,’ and I did not hesitate a second. This movie is a gem — it’s one of the rare movies that comes towards you that…talks about friendship and love and about a man who’s suffering and struggling with his handicap. It’s not a movie where the music cries out and blasts your ears. It’s deeper than that and that’s also what I like, to write something really deep and emotional. I’m very proud to have done that with Tom.
“I’m just starting the last episode of ‘Harry Potter.’ I did the penultimate, and now I’m just starting on the last one, which will be huge fireworks — it will be a lot of energy to give away. That’s my next main big thing.”
Nominated for best original score for “Inception”
“People always ask me, ‘Aren’t you jaded?’ Of course I’m not jaded. I think each of these movies is a work in itself, and I’m particularly proud of ‘Inception.’ So it’s nice when it’s about something that you really care about.
“[Christopher Nolan, the director] brings out the best in me, and he does it in a clever and sneaky way. He basically tries to always encourage me and encourage my imagination to run riot and he doesn’t encourage my best behavior [laughs].
“I’m working with my friend and fellow nominee John Powell [nominated for best original score for ‘How to Train Your Dragon’] on ‘Kung Fu Panda 2.’ Of course there’s friendly rivalry, always. We’ve known each other for a very, very long time. We started at the same place together, then he came and worked over here with me. Plus we’re really good friends. I love his stuff; I love where he’s going with his music. It gets very exciting when the two of us are in a room.
Nominated for best original song for “Coming Home,” from “Country Strong”
“I teach a class on lyric writing at Belmont University, and I was on my way to class…so my wife went online and looked, and she called me and said, ‘Aw, gosh, you didn’t make it.’ And I was disappointed; I wasn’t crushed, but I was disappointed. But she was looking at the previous year’s nominees; they hadn’t posted this year’s yet. Then [producer] Lia Vollack emailed me at 8 o’clock with the congratulations, and the phone’s kind of blown up since then. It’s hard to believe…I think every songwriter dreams of having a song in a movie, so it’s really the thrill of a lifetime.
“Gwyneth [Paltrow] really transformed herself into this tragic country singer that we’ve all known and loved. Obviously, she doesn’t need a country career, but if she wanted it, she could be a huge star in country music.
“I’m working with a new band called Mockingbird Sun, and I’m working tomorrow with Casey James — he came in third on ‘American Idol’ last season. He’s the real deal. He’s a great singer and great guitar player, so I’m looking forward to writing with him.
Nominated for best original song for “We Belong Together,” from “Tangled”
“I’m honored that the Academy would choose to nominate me. I feel fortunate to have been part of the ‘Toy Story’ trilogy.”
Nominated for best original song for “I See the Light,” from “Tangled”
“My cup runneth over. This is my tenth film musical, and Disney’s 50th animated film. An Oscar nomination puts the whole experience beyond words for me.”
Nominated for best original score for “How to Train Your Dragon”
“It’s just an epic story based on sort of a classic problem — your relationship with your parents and what they expect of you. We’re always going have that issue, and it’s a good telling of that same story with great animation and a great script. They got all the pieces in the right place, and it was just my job not to fuck it up.”