Oscar Contenders

Event coverage by Jennifer Ortega, Red Carpet Report Reporter follow Jen on Twitter @JenniferEOrtega

Last month, TheWrap sponsored the 2018 Oscar Song Contender event. The event included clips from films featuring the songs, followed by a panel discussion. Many musicians attended to discuss their work on some of the year’s most talked about films. Participants included Common, Elvis Costello, Diane Warren, Patrick Doyle, Kenneth Branagh, Raphael Saadiq, Taura Stinton, Ryan Bingham, T-Bone Burnett and Ryan Tedder. Red Carpet Report’s entertainment writers Jennifer Ortega and Sari Cohen were on hand to speak the musicians about their work.

Common was quick to speak about creating music that creates a catalyst for hope. When speaking about the song he co-wrote with Diane Warren for the film Marshall, he told us, “What the song is saying is stand up for what you believe in. Something that is positive. Something that is bigger than you. Some of the things we always talk about that would be great to stand for is women’s rights and standing for justice, standing for peace, standing for equality, standing for animal rights, standing for the environment, standing for black and brown justice, standing for education. The reason we wrote this song is to activate people for what they feel passionate about and what they feel their purpose is so they can stand up for it.”

We asked Common about visiting the White House under the Obama administration and how to keep that same hope alive. “I think the hope is still there. We received some reality bites, but it’s part of the growth. Part of hope is that when things look grim and it’s not the best of times, you still have to have hope and faith that we will get past these times and we will elevate above the negativity and racism. I don’t think hope is a conditional thing, meaning that if it doesn’t go right for you today, you still have to keep hoping for a bigger vision. I went to the Obama Foundation event and I was inspired. I can see that he will be doing more and I’m hopeful about it.”

We also spoke to Patrick Doyle who created music with Kenneth Branagh for Murder on the Orient Express. We asked him about his friendship with Kenneth Branagh and how that effects his music composition. “I’ve worked with Kenneth Branagh over the past 30 years. We’re great friends. We’ve worked on 13 films together and tons of theater. I think that this our 13th film together. We meet 30 years ago in the theater. I was a composer and musical director for his theater shows. We hang out together and we’re great friends. He makes me laugh and he says I make him laugh. I think humor is the foundation of all good relationships. We have an instinct. We sort of read each other’s thoughts. That’s a great gift we have. We’re very lucky. If you have some sort of skill set and work together and have a certain synergy, then you’re very very lucky. It’s always about coming up with great theme music for thematic ideas and getting the foundation of the score. Ken is a wizard with words. He has a natural gift for words and I love working with him.”

Talking with Elvis Costello started with laughter and jokes to the point we he told us we should take our comedy act on the road. When we told him how we love his music and how his songs stay stuck in our heads he said, “I’m sorry,” with a laugh and then thanked us for our appreciation. We asked about his career and what inspires him to keep making music. “I’m one of the very fortune people that makes my living doing what I tell myself I’d be doing anyway. But I’ve never tested that. I’m just really glad to be here among such amazing company. My good friend T-Bone Burnett is here. We’ve written many songs together.” Elvis was at the panel to speak about his song “You Shouldn’t Look at Me That Way” that is featured in the film, Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool. He spoke to us about matching the tone of the film and working with the emotional and thematic cues. “Your job is to echo the feeling of the film, it’s not to compete with it.”

T Bone Burnett was in attendance for music he created with Ryan Tedder for Al Gore’s film, An Inconvenient Sequel. T Bone, a truly prolific musician and producer, has worked with extraordinary artists like, Roy Orbison, Elvis Costello and Elton John. He has worked with so many artists, that we had to ask who he still would like to work with that he hasn’t. “Eminem. I love Eminem.” We asked him about creating music for Al Gore. “I was having dinner one night and he (Al Gore) said he has this new movie coming out and would I like to write a song for it. And I said sure. I love Al and I view Al as the leader of the free world. He’s the only person to have ever lost the presidency by one vote. Certainly, his policies are much in keeping with the rest of humanity. I would say Al Gore inspired me. You see the price this man has paid. It’s a pretty extraordinary story. It’s a wild, deep, painful American story. He’s so deeply smart.”

TheWrap did a fantastic job of creating a panel of some of the most influential musicians and composers. Exclusive video coverage from the panel discussion can be found on TheWrap’s facebook page.

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