French composer Alexandre Desplat arrived on the Hollywood scene in 2003-04 with back-to-back movies Girl With the Pearl Earring and Birth. Since then, the town has only asked him for more, spellbound by his ability to canvass various distinctive melodic styles, making them intrinsic and organic to a given film on screen.
Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water marks the ninth original score Oscar nomination for Desplat following such great movies as The Queen, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Fantastic Mr. Fox, The King’s Speech, Argo, Philomena, The Imitation Game, and The Grand Budapest Hotel. For quite some time, the question begged by awards pundits was “Why on earth hasn’t Alexandre Desplat won an Oscar already?”
Desplat would humbly explain it was because he wrote understated scores: ““It’s not about what’s a good or bad score at the Oscars, rather what’s exposed to the ears more…There aren’t that many understated scores that have won in the last 10 years. It’s not easy to write an understated score over a loud one.”
The last time he was nominated in 2015 was for The Imitation Game and Grand Budapest Hotel, and rather than cancel himself out, Desplat won for the latter, a rollicking, toe-tapping Hungarian bonanza, and, yes, as the maestro would couch, “a loud score.” While Desplat waited several years to win, that shouldn’t be a problem this year as many voters are not only hooked on The Shape of Water (it counts the most nominations at 13) but also the film’s romantic whistling waltz which encompasses Sally Hawkins’ mute Elisa and Doug Jones’ Amphibian man.
Desplat came to know del Toro through his productions Rise of the Guardians and the series Trollhunters, both of which the composer worked on.
In regards to how their collaboration on The Shape of Water began, Desplat says, “Two years ago, we had sushi together and he said I want to talk with you about fish.”
Desplat tells us more about Shape of Water and his career in the latest Crew Call.