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Oscar-Nominated Scores: 'Babel,' 'The Queen'

This year's crop of Oscar-nominated musical scores offers a glimpse into a diverse array of styles and genres. NPR's movie-film expert Andy Trudeau takes Liane Hansen through two of the nominees: Gustavo Santaolalla for Babel and Alexandre Desplat for The Queen.

Santaolalla won best score last year for his work on Brokeback Mountain. But the music in Babel, which draws from a variety of cultures, has a much different feel.

Babel is a soundtrack that redefines what is meant by the genre, says Trudeau. With no theme or any of the other benchmarks that are used to judge a score, it often feels more like an improvisation. The result is a "personal soundtrack" that arose from an intense collaboration between Santaolalla and director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu.

French composer Alexandre Desplat's lean, orchestral music for The Queen conveys the somber, resolute Elizabeth II and the British royal family's response to the death of Princess Diana. Restraint becomes a major emotional element of the music. Yet as Trudeau points out, there's more to the soundtrack than mere pomp and circumstance.

In future segments of the series, Trudeau will offer his comments on the other nominees for best score, including The Good German by Thomas Newman, Notes on a Scandal by Philip Glass and Pan's Labyrinth by Javier Navarette.

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