April 22, 2021
They create hit soundtracks and some of the most memorable moments in movies – but even their parents don’t know what they do. Top music supervisors lament their lot
‘It needs to change’: are music supervisors the most unsung people in film?
On 11 April, midway between the Grammys and the Oscars, the US Guild of Music Supervisors (GMS) held its 11th annual awards ceremony, celebrating the people “who help the director devise the musical strategy for the film and then execute it,” says Randall Poster, a two-time GMS winner whose credits include Boyhood, Zodiac and the Royal Tenenbaums. It was a good night for the people who worked on Soul, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Promising Young Woman and The Cuban, but none of them will be recognised at the Academy Awards, nor at any other major movie awards ceremony. Music supervisors may be increasingly important, but during awards season they remain unsung. “This is the one night of the year where we can be part of the conversation about excellence,” says GMS president Joel C High.
The Oscars still has just two music categories: best original song and best original score, which date back to the 1930s. While there were always startling omissions (Goldfinger! Fight the Power!), for decades best original song did at least celebrate the musical moments that mattered to movie-goers, from Over the Rainbow and White Christmas to Theme from Shaft and Take My Breath Away.
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