'Birdman' Drum Score, Disqualified From Oscars, Nabs Grammy Nomination


Antonio Sanchez's work is nominated with 'The Imitation Game,' 'Interstellar,' 'The Theory of Everything' and 'Whiplash.'

Birdman has landed on this year's list of Grammy nominations.

The drum-centric score from Antonio Sanchez nabbed a nod in the Grammy category for best score soundtrack for visual media. Also nominated in the category are works by Alexandre Desplat for The Imitation Game, Hans Zimmer for Interstellar, Johann Johannsson for The Theory of Everything and Justin Hurwitz for Whiplash.

Sanchez's nomination comes a year after the composer's work for the Alejandro G. Inarritu film was deemed ineligible for Oscar consideration, a disqualification made because its soundtrack includes pieces of classical music in addition to Sanchez's score.

"It was felt that the drum score is highly effective in the places in the film where it is used," wrote Charles Fox, the chair of the Academy's music branch executive committee in a note. "However, the fact that the film also contains over a half an hour of non-original (mostly classical) music cues that are featured very prominently in numerous pivotal moments in the film made it difficult for the committee to accept your submission as an eligible score in light of the above-quoted rule."

Despite letters from the composer and filmmaker that petitioned for their reconsideration — with Inarritu juxtaposing Sanchez's 29 minutes and 30 seconds of new work against 17 minutes of classical music that "is clearly music that is being played during the theatrical play in the film" and further stressing that the score was the "spine and the element [that] helped me find the intensity of the characters, the tone and the internal rhythm of each scene" — the music branch executive committee did not waver on their decision.

The dramedy starring Michael Keaton, Naomi Watts, Edward Norton, Emma Stone and Zach Galifianakis went on to win the Oscar for best picture, director, original screenplay and cinematography from its nine nominations, and Alexandre Desplat won the Oscar for his Grand Budapest Hotel score.

Sanchez — who had been touted by some as a strong bet to become the first Mexican composer to win an Oscar — was nominated in the score category by the Golden Globes and the BAFTAs. He previously won Grammys as part of the Pat Metheny Group (best contemporary jazz album in 2002 and 2005) and the Pat Metheny Band (best jazz instrumental album in 2012).

"I'm deeply honored for this nomination and so thrilled that over a year since Birdman's opening, the score keeps getting recognition. It's also great to see that the Oscar controversy didn't affect how members of other academies view my work," Sanchez told The Hollywood Reporter. "I'm very humbled to be nominated alongside all the other outstanding composers and musicians."

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