December 11, 2018

'Mandy' Will Not Win the Academy Award it Deserves

Jóhann Jóhannsson's final score will not be eligible for the Oscars.

For some, the argument could be made that 2018's psychedelic horror masterpiece, Mandy, deserves to pop up in multiple categories over the course of this awards season. The film is unlike anything we've really ever seen before, with director Panos Cosmatos' insane vision brought to life by hallucination-inducing cinematography from Benjamin Loeb, featuring Nicolas Cage's most unhinged performance ever, and tied together by the patient, yet masterly editing of Brett W. Bachman. 

Perhaps the most deserving of an award, however, is a truly metal and horrifying score from the late, great Jóhann Jóhannsson. His scores to The Theory Of EverythingSicario, Arrival, and Prisoners brought him nominations from the Academy a handful of times, but he was never recognized for anything more. Mandy would prove to the final score of the esteemed composer who tragically took his own life in February 2018, weeks after the film made its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival. 

In a tribute where Cosmatos wrote the liner notes for the film's vinyl soundtrack, Cosmatos claimed, "Most film composers work solely to enhance the actions and emotions on screen. Some transcend this and can create a tangible and memorable atmosphere as well. The composer whose work seems to metaphysically flow from and within the images themselves is the rarest breed. Rare because there is alchemy at work. Rare because it requires an almost preternatural sensitivity and openness to the images they are working with and the skill to articulate it. Johann was such a composer."

Unfortunately, as confirmed by Indiewire earlier this morning, his soundtrack has been disqualified from the vote because “it was released on VOD before it completed its qualifying run.” When asked to elaborate on the disqualification, a representative for the film told IndieWire a “qualifying run” means the film is released for one week in Los Angeles with a minimum of three screenings per day. Mandy became available on VOD before the completion of its one-week run and was deemed ineligible as a result.

It's truly a travesty that Jóhannsson won't be in the running and a clear indication that a new generation of distribution demands a re-haul of rules from the Academy.     

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