The biggest disappointment -- but not shock -- is the elimination of Mansell's 'Black Swan' and Burwell's 'True Grit,' which were axed because they rely heavily on pre-existing material to shape their arrangements. In 'Swan's' case, Mansell used Tchaikovsky's 'Swan Lake' as his source and 'True Grit' features several 19th century hymns. Both soundtracks are essential cinematic devices and perhaps some of the strongest amongst this year's contenders, making this news pretty deflating.
Burwell's 'Kids' and Brook's 'Fighter' scores were "diminished in impact by the predominant use of songs," according to the Academy. Basically that means the films were overloaded with other songs, making the actual score seem secondary. Alexandre Desplat's score for 'The King's Speech' was able to squeak by despite the use of Beethoven's work in several key scenes. This explains why 'The Social Network' was probably given a pass despite using Edvard Grieg's 'In The Hall of the Mountain King.'
It seems as though the Academy needs two categories -- one for original scores and one for scores using primarily pre-existing music. They basically do the same thing with screenplays -- original and adapted. As it stands now, disqualifying these soundtracks diminishes the work of the artists who selected the songs, put them in the film where they'd be the most effective at providing context, and so on. While it's not exactly fair to compare a soundtrack that uses pre-existing material to one composed from scratch, it also seems misguided to preclude those kinds of scores from receiving recognition as well.
Where do you stand on this issue?