Interstellar caused controversy in unexpected circles upon its release. Moviegoers complained that the slick feature had incomprehensible dialogue that was often drowned out by the score. Environmental sound effects that recreated travel in space and on land interfered with some people’s enjoyment of the film. In response, director Christopher Nolan said the sound was no accident — it was precisely how he intended.
Now, The Hollywood Reporter reveals that unconventional approach could get Interstellar an Academy Award. In recent years, Oscar voters have embraced unusual sound mixes. The trend started, according to THR, with a nod to the electronic mix in The Social Network four years ago. Before that, high level orchestral sounds were a staple of the nominee list.
Interstellar features a pipe-organ styled soundtrack, and the fact that Nolan chose to highlight it over dialogue at key points “may have endeared Interstellar to every living composer.” Also in line for a potential Oscar nod is the all-drum sounds in Birdman, although THR writes that one off as a long shot due to its lack of melody.
Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, who were behind The Social Network‘s score, also have a potential Oscar winner in Gone Girl. The film has generated Oscar buzz for director David Fincher, although Deadline reported in October that Oscar voter reaction at screenings of the film was mixed.
There is a heavyweight figure behind Interstellar’s score. Hans Zimmer is a legendary film music composer who worked on three blockbusters this year alone. In addition to composing the theme music for Interstellar, he was executive music producer on Divergent, and composer of additional music for Transformers: Age of Extinction. He had a hand in the sound for many Oscar winners in the late 1980s and early 1990s, including Rain Man, Driving Miss Daisy and The Lion King. Although Zimmer has been nominated for multiple Oscars according to his IMDB profile, THR notes he has not won since The Lion King in 1994.
Oscar talk for the film score comes as Interstellar surpassed the $500 million mark in total box office receipts. Its total so far, according to a Variety report today, is $542 million, including a total $106 million in the People’s Republic of China, where Interstellar has been the most popular film for three weeks in a row. Despite the fact that the film is not in 3D — which Variety says is usually necessary to draw in international audiences — it has been bolstered by IMAX screenings.
Interstellar is in theaters now.