January 18, 2007
Best Original Score????????

This has officially become the most difficult category for me to predict this year.

What say you? Feed me.


It doesn't stand a chance of being nominated, but I liked the score to Brick, with its jazzy noir riffs played on very non-noir instruments like harpsichord and cowbell.

The score to The Painted Veil (which may very well be nominated) sometimes seemed merely the first draft of the "Painted Veil Piano Concerto," but it had some lovely moments.

The Fountain would have to be my favorite work of the year, but I'm definitely hoped for nominations for Notes on a Scandal and The Painted Veil as well. Philip Glass's work on the former really enhances the film.

In addition to the score for The Fountain, I'm hoping for nominations for The Painted Veil and Notes on a Scandal. Philip Glass's work in particular really enhanced the viewing experience.

oops, sorry about the double post-- feel free to delete the first one :)

I've investigated this category quite throughly, and I can easily say that if you are not currently predicting Pan's Labyrinth to be nominated here, you're making a big mistake. It has been singled out by many as the best score of the year, and it is the kind of film that will pick up multiple nominations in the tech categories. You can listen to the whole soundtrack at panslabyrinth.com, under interact.

The Painted Veil just won the Golden Globe, so expect it to be nominated, not The Queen. And Desplat isn't John Williams, so he won't be able to pull out two nominations.

Neither will Phillip Glass. While I notice that you have a fondness for his work in Notes on a Scandal, some critics, even A.O. Scott on Ebert and Roeper, noted how the score was the most obtrusive part of the film. It overpowers too much. However, Glass' BFCA win for The Illusionist is right up the academy's alley. It's a period piece, it has a more distinct theme, the film is bound to get nominated somewhere, and this is one of the likely places. Since this score has been getting more notice awardswise, Glass will most likely get in for this than for Notes on a Scandal.

The Original Score group love their veterans, and Thomas Newman had two exceptional scores this year, the more award bait one being The Good German. It is maybe the only place the film will score a nomination, and it is actually the real strength of this film. Love themes are a big plus, and this one has it. It's also a bit of a departure from the usual Thomas Newman style music.

I'm torn about who will get my fifth spot, but I will have to go with James Horner's work in Apocalypto. It has received some criticism, but it is different for a Horner score, and his use of ethnic instruments might make an impression. Also, they will nominate him for almost anything. Remember House of Sand and Fog?

My runner up goes to Clint Mansell's work on The Fountain. It's a great piece of music composition, but will the academy recognize a new guy and a somewhat unconventional score. Nevertheless, it's gorgeous. The problem is the mixed reviews the film has received.

Let us also not forget World Trade Center, a film that made quite a good impression when it was released and eventually died out. The score was one of the most memorable things about the film, and the piano and cello themes are meaningful and inspiring.

Alberto Iglesias was a surprise nominee last year for The Constant Gardener, and he might show up here again for Volver. The score is very appropriate to the location and tone of the film, and it is both vibrant and beautiful.

Forget Letters from Iwo Jima. Two composers leads to disqualification.

Forget Flags of Our Fathers. Clint Eastwood never gets nominated for score.

Forget Notes on a Scandal, for reasons mentioned above.

Forget The Departed, because source music overpowers Howard Shore's appropriate scoring for the film.

Forget about The Da Vinci Code. Too dull and easily one of Han Zimmer's worst.

Forget about Babel too. It might have gotten citations here and there, but Santaolalla JUST won for Brokeback Mountain, and this score has no memorable theme like Brokeback, and the beautiful piano theme at the end, isn't even his composition. Even with a Golden Globe and BFCA nomination, it means nothing because the original score group does not follow precursors. They speak their own mind, and they like veterans and scores with memorable themes that one can hum to.

1. Pan's Labyrinth
2. The Painted Veil
3. The Illusionist
4. The Good German
5. Apocalypto

Runner up: The Fountain, Volver

Well, I count three mentions for Pan's Labrinth's score, only two of any significance. So it certianly isn't being singled out all over the place, and most definitely shouldn't be in a #1 spot.

The most singled out scores are Babel, The Painted Veil, The Fountain, The Illusionist and Notes on a Scandal.

I've been set on Glass for Illusionist over Notes for quite some time. I just haven't bothered updating the score chart very much because of mass confusion. I do agree neither he nor Desplat is likely to join Williams, T. Newman, R. Newman, Horner, etc., in being a double nominee.

I'm skeptical of Horner after missing last year for The New World, and I also feel Mansell, however brilliant with The Fountain, seems too much of an outsider.

But yeah, I've been knee-deep in research for this category for a long while, and even crunching the numbers, it comes down to a personal guess. There are no definitives. None at all. Even Santaolalla's work, with some 7 nods and 2 wins from critics groups, is no shoo-in given that it is going back to the ethnic work they ignored from him for so long.

("Here and there?" You SURE you're researching the same category here?)

As for Thomas Newman, given that Little Children was more critically appreciated (and seriously...I don't think anyone will get through Good German), I tend to wonder if he'd get in for that instead. I don't know.

Finally, I think you're doing yourself a disservice to say "forget" Notes and Da Vinci (one of the more rewarded scores from critics groups of the year). Never say never and all of that, but I can't even see how you'd back up saying "never" to these two.

Anyway, thanks for the sparring. This category is so stacked.

Thanks for your prompt response. About Pan's Labyrinth, I'm not looking specifically at critics lists of best scores. I was focusing more on what the general concensus was in the Oscarwatch forums. Anyways, Scorekeeper's best scores of 2006 listed Pan's Labyrinth as the #1 score of the year, and that says something. Also, personal opinion might get in the way, but fantasy films do quite well in this category, as we have seen from Lord of the Rings, and Pan's Labyrinth's score has all the elements of a winning score. That's why I feel so strongly about it. But the love for this score is out there, and it is as strong as the love for The Fountain's score. It might be helpful to take a poll and for people to decide what they think is the best score of 2006. I'm sure those two will be at the top.

You mentioned how Notes on a Scandal was one of the most singled out scores. Where? It wasn't not nominated for a BFCA nor a Golden Globe. Only a Satellite award, and they are obviously not reliable in their choices. Again, personal opinion might get in the way, but the score for Notes on a Scandal stood out too much. It should support the film, not overtake it, and that's what I feel it did. In some scenes, you could not concentrate on the story, because the music pushed itself into the spotlight, and unfortunately, it's not that much different from his work in The Hours. Same fast tempo strings, with the forced crescendos. Too much! But like you said, The Illusionist is more likely to be nominated.

The Good German did not come out with great reviews, I'll give you that. But neither did The Village. And even though the story kinda sucks, the style is gorgeous, and I think it's enough to keep voters interested. The music is still the film's strongest element. Little Children might be the better received film, however the score seems almost too similar to his work in In the Bedroom or American Beauty. Also, period films always do best in this category, which is another way to argue The Painted Veil over The Queen, The Illusionist over Notes on a Scandal, and The Good German over Little Children.

You bring up a good point with The New World, and James Horner is not secure for a nod. It's really shaky, but I think he might be able to pull through because this score has a lot more going on than his delicate scoring of The New World, which was overlooked because of Malick's use of Mozart in the film, which overshadowed Horner's somewhat minimalist work.

As for Babel, "here and there" was intentional understatement. It's more like "all over the place." But like I said before, precursors don't mean that much in this category, since last year most people went 2/5 in this category, having overlooked The Constant Gardener, Munich, and Pride and Prejudice, all films with no precursors I believe. Also, the ethnic style of Babel I think will really go against it, like you said it might. It just feels like one of those nominations everyone expects that everyone will end up being wrong about.

If voters can't get through The Good German, I don't see how they will be able to get through The Da Vinci Code. And like Gerard Kennedy said in his commentary on this category, he does not see Hans Zimmer returning to the academy awards with this particular score. This is nowhere near his work on Gladiator and The Lion King, let alone The Last Samurai, which wasn't even nominated.

I checked up and did just realize that Notes on a Scandal has received some mentions from Chicago Film Critics and the Online Film Critics, and SOAP. But no wins for the individual score, just a career achievement award for Glass at the Palm Springs Film Festival. Still, I think his odds lie best with The Illusionist, which is why I don't look at this score as nearly as strong of a contender.

I checked up and did just realize that Notes on a Scandal has received some mentions from Chicago Film Critics and the Online Film Critics, and SOAP. But no wins for the individual score, just a career achievement award for Glass at the Palm Springs Film Festival. Still, I think his odds lie best with The Illusionist, which is why I don't look at this score as nearly as strong of a contender.

This category is CRAZY. About 20 titles could show up and wouldn't surprise me.

I am going with...
The Illusionist
Notes on a Scandal
The Painted Veil

I realize double Glass doesn't make sense at all and I don't actually expect it to come to fruition. But there seems to be considerable love out there for "The Illusionist" while "Notes" is exactly the sort of score they god for.

Even with the Globe win, I don't think Desplat is assured mainly because I'm not convinced they'll have seen "The Painted Veil" due to its botched release and, moreover, he has a BP nominee in play.
That said, enough attention has gone to the score that I reasonably hope they do see it and I'm not sure how one could watch "The Queen" and "The Painted Veil" and prefer the former's music.

There is considerable love out there for both "Babel" and Santaolalla's score. It's the only one to receive the BFCA/Globe/ BAFTA treatment. It's not their sort of score but at this point, I feel odds are in its favour.

I feel we need one staple in there so I went with Horner. I don't feel "The New World" snub is that concerning; that score was very much watered down by the non-original music. My greater hesitation is no precursor attention and mixed feelings on the movie.

I feel James Newton Howard is a darkhorse. "Blood Diamond" has been chugging along. And "Cars" is the first time in ages to nominate Randy Newman. I reckon it could happen.

Newman is lurking around but "Little Children" is not a typical nominee and will anyone get through "The Good German?"

Zimmer has had major trouble this decade and I'm skeptical "Da Vinci" is the film to return him to the fold.

Navarrete is a possibility but nowhere in the vicinity of being a lock. Newbies always struggle. And Mansell doesn't seem like their sort of composer at all.

Right now I'm thinking:

The Da Vinci Code
The Fountain
The Illusionist
The Painted Veil

Does anybody remember 2004? Mostly everybody got The Passion of the Christ and Finding Neverland right. Some mentioned Harry Potter. Some thought The Terminal. The precursors mentioned none of these, save Finding Neverland. Everybody thought the precursor favorites Sideways, The Incredibles, and The Aviator would get in, and then Aviator was disqualified, and the others didn't make the cut. If they really don't like scores like Babel, that's good enough a reason to go against it. Because precursors really aren't that important. Sometimes they are right. Sometimes they're wrong.

I loved the Babel score - but Newman for Good german was really fine - Pan's Labrynth too - and of course Glass for Notes -

Precursors perhaps have less influence here than any other category but when only one score gets all the major nods, it's unlikely to miss. Neither "Sideways" nor "The Incredibles" had the important nods that "Babel" does.

I've overlooked Pan's Labyrinth but I agree it should have top consideration. Most of the rest of the discussion I agree with bblasingame.

For the composers it's only partially about seeing the movies, they do get 'score screeners' which are the cds of the score, some of which are never given a commercial release.

Thomas Newman is strong as a veteran with Good German and it is likely to be nominated because of how much it sounds like a period Reitherman or Steiner score, composers rarely get to work in that style and it's uniqueness will stand out as they're listening to this year's crop. it's the most memorable score experience of the year, and an enormous departure and achievement for Newman.

And that may be what will hurt Notes on a Scandal, but will help Illusionist. On the other hand I can't recall a strong theme from the Illusionist and I just watched it on dvd this week. :p

The Queen had a fabulous score, as did the Painted Veil. I would not be surprised if both films got just enough love (but few voters voting for both) to make the cut for the final five.

One score completely overlooked here is another veteran. Danny Elfman composed the score for Charlotte's Web and children's movies with a high profile score also tend to do very well in this category.

The Fountain may be terrific, but Mansell hasn't earned the credibility to be a first priority listen, and if the movie isn't a priority viewing (because it has no buzz) the score gets shuffled to the bottom of the pile. If work from a tremendously successful film like the Incredibles can't earn a nomination, this is a significant factor against The Fountain.

The Village got in because James Newton Howard has earned credibility to have his scores listened to each year, this is part of what is keeping Blood Diamond in play.

Apocalypto is a difficult listen when the score is freed from the context of the visuals and lacks a memorable cohesion. Although it's nice that Horner isn't repeating the same chord progressions over and over (ie the score doesn't sound like the typical Horner "Best of" work) I don't think he'll earn a nomination this year.

So my picks go something like:

Charlotte's Web
The Good German
The Painted Veil
Pan's Labyrinth
The Queen

I think this category is going to be heavy on the favorites as usual. Remember that composers are very "cliquey."

I think the final five will be Apocalypto (Horner usually gets in and New World snub was prob. due to its use of classical music), Babel (got all the important precursors, plus the love for the film), Blood Diamond (Howard got in for The Village, they really like him), Notes on a Scandal (Kundun and The Hours make me think Glass will get in for this rather than Illusionist) and The Queen (when in doubt, go with a BP contender than Desplat's own Globe winner).

What important precursors are there for score besides the Globes and BFCAs? Sideways scored in both of those. The winner of the award that year only ended up scoring in the BAFTAs and Globes.

Lots of groups nominate scores, bblasingame. They're all pretty much equally important, if you ask me. The HFPA miss a lot, so does BFCA, but the groups that nominate are the Chicago critics, Online FilmC ritics, Satellites, BAFTA, and, of course, BFCA and HFPA.

I agree Charlotte's Web has been overlooked, movielocke, but at the same time, Danny Elfman has to fight tooth and nail for the few nods he has received over his career.

Another score overlooked, one of the best of the year, is Gabriel Yared's "The Lives of Others." It'd be at the top of my list if not for the fact that Yared has only made it in with the Minghella films he's worked on.

The BAFTA immediately pops to mind as a major group which nominates scores and "Sideways" missed there.

Regardless, bblasingame, I don't see how "Pan's Labyrinth" can be put at the top of the list seeing as Navarrette is totally new to even being considered (at least Iglesias was well known, in addition to having a BAFTA nod) and he has missed nods from the Globes, BFCA and BAFTA (which clearly liked the film A LOT).

I agree with you Kris that The Lives of Others is a wonderful score, but considering that film would have great difficulty overcoming the barrier of being a film from Germany, I think the foreign language film category is the only place it will earn a nomination, with maybe a surprise in Original Screenplay. Either way, great film, great score.

The problem I have with people giving such precedence to scores like Babel and Notes on a Scandal is the precursors tell us very little about this category. If Babel actually won the prize from one of those groups, then it maybe would solid to earn a nomination. But this is not a score the academy goes for. It's the type they frequently ignore.

Also, none of these categories I believe has ever been able to mention more than three of the five oscar nominees. Usually they only mention one or two. Look at Pride and Prejudice, Lemony Snicket's, The Village, House of Sand and Fog, all ignored completely. Finding Nemo was only noticed by the Satellites. Munich and The Constant Gardener only mentioned once. King Kong was noticed by the Globes and Online Film Critics and ignored. Sideways was noticed by the Globes and BAFTAs and ignored. The precursors are quite unreliable altogether. They show you two or three of the eventual nominees. The others you have to use deductive reasoning.

I don't think Pan's Labyrinth is a lock for a nomination. I don't think any score is. However, if it is nominated, I can easily see it winning. Dario Marianelli was not well known either. And like I mentioned before, Pan's Labyrinth score was noticed on Scorekeeper's Best of 2006 at #1. That's pretty good news to me, at least to expect a nomination.

I don't think anyone is full disregarding the score as a possibility, b, just your placement of it as #1. That is certainly questionable.

I mean, believe me, I think it has a great shot. It may very well end up in my final predix. It has a theme I can hear in my head right now. Hell, one of the characters hums it at the end. But #1?

And Gerard, I'm not too sure BAFTA should be given a lot of credence here. After all, they honor "music," not score, and so films like "Dreamgirls" end up with nominations.

Anyway, great thread guys. Keep em coming.

in such a crowded race, is hard to think they will ignore the best two scores of the year, which are....

* The Fountain
* Pan's Labyrinth

I concede the BAFTA music category is an imperfect comparison for the Oscar score category.

But "Pan's Labyrinth" garnered eight nominations from the group and missed out on the music nod, just as it did from the HFPA and BFCA. And bblasingame is defending its nomination to the death (though he seems to have calmed down a bit in that last post). The BAFTA just furthers my opinion that the film can't be considered #1 in the category.

I agree it *could* be nominated and if nominated has a great shot at winning. But I feel the difficulties it will encounter in its quest for a nod are not difficult to see.

It's not that I am fighting it just because I love it. I really feel that this is a score the academy will recognize. It's a period piece and a fantasy. It's a foreign language film, and they have done well here before. Most important though is that it has a very classical music style score. It just feels right. I could be wrong, and yes, it is very risky considering it has no precursors, but it fits the bill so well, it's hard to shake.

As for Notes on a Scandal, there is a lot of support here from oscarwatchers, but the critics feel VERY differently. Read some of the negative reviews for Notes on a Scandal and you will see what I mean.

Rottentomatoes singles out the quotes dealing with the score:

"Dramatic overstatement saturates just about every piece of this production. Even that master of orchestral pop minimalism, Philip Glass, managed to write a score that slinks into the dark shadows of old gothic witchery." - Houston Chronicle.

"What in Zoe Heller’s novel, upon which the film is based, served as a subtle undercurrent here is hammered upon to a desperate degree. Exacerbating the film’s ill-suited film noir-ish tone is Philip Glass’ intrusive score."- Boxoffice magazine.

"A lot is wrong about Notes On A Scandal, starting with a frenetic Phillip Glass score that absurdly heightens nearly every scene in which it's used, squeezing the wit out of what might've been a wicked black comedy."- Onion Av Club

"The thing that almost tipped my thumb down, that really bothered me about this movie was the score. Phillip Glass is a great composer but his work in movies is like nails on a blackboard. I find it really oppressive and it is pushing you in a way that I wish that the actors could have pushed me." - A.O. Scott on Ebert and Roeper.

And there are maybe more. Not good stuff at all. If there are that kind of feelings towards the score, the score might have some supporters but not enough to warrant a nomination.

It's because all the best ones are by people who haven't been nommed before or aren't regulars.

ATM I say:

The Da Vinci Code
The Illusionist
The Painted Veil
The Fountain (in a big surprise)


I decided to make a poll on the Oscarwatch forums and asked what their favorite score of the year was. Out of 47 votes, here were the leaders.

The Painted Veil: 13
Notes on a Scandal: 8
The Fountain: 6
Pan's Labyrinth: 4
The Good German: 3

2 votes for Babel, The Illusionist, The Queen, Volver, The Departed, and Little Children.

So there is some passion out there for Pan's Labyrinth, at least amongst ourselves. Note how the precursor heavy Babel only got 4.26% of the votes, and how The Da Vinci Code has nada.

Some passion? Four votes? Out of 47?

I see YOUR passion, b, but...that's about all.

Why are you attempting to skew perspective so heavily for Pan's? I mean, it got two more votes than Babel, yet Babel's "4.25%" is a dreadful showing and the two votes more for "Pan's" is "passion?" Come on.

And Oscarwatch is pretty much the black hole of actual Oscar buzz, at least as far as how their opinion translates to the Academy's. So really, an interesting poll, if ultimately meaningless.

Whoa, Whoa, wait a minute. I never said the showing for Babel was dreadful. Pan's Labyrinth isn't THAT much better. However, it does show, from a small group of 47 Oscarwatchers, that Pan's Labyrinth does have some support out there, and it should be considered a real contender for a nomination. And I think the so-called lock status of Babel is VERY questionable, because precursors have been wrong before, Babel's score is not what the academy likes to nominate, and at least here, and maybe in other places, there isn't a whole bunch of support. Sure, it shows up in the nominations. But the score hasn't actually won a single award yet.

But do notice that it has some support, and for many that didn't have it in their top spot, they voted it number 2 or 3.

And I've said it before. I'm not trying to skew perspective for Pan's Labyrinth. I simply think the score has more Oscar qualities than any other score this year. So attacking this possibility on every corner just to make a statement is a little offensive to me, acting like I don't know what I'm talking about when you asked for our help.

My prediction for Pan's Labyrinth is daring, but I do not find it foolish at all, and if it doesn't make the cut, I will be quite surprised.

I take that back about Babel. It did win the Satellite award, the San Diego film critics, and the Central Ohio Film Critics, which says something, but those groups are very small, and you can't be serious by telling me the Satellite awards is a reliable predictor.

b, no one is disagreeing that Pan's has a shot at a nod. Only that it is foolish to consider it in a #1 spot. I don't think we can make it any clearer to you.

And I was just about to correct your "Babel" blunder until I noticed you actually did the research. But then you close with an unreasonable slam: "You can't be serious by telling me the Satellite awards is a reliable predictor." Well - haha - you can't be serious telling me that four people on an internet message board are indicative of anything...at...all.

In any case, I think you're stretching reality greatly for your own perspective, claiming that 4 measly votes on a board full of supporters of a film indicates that there is a strong core of "passion" for a certain score. Frankly, coming from Oscarwatch, there should have been more votes. They love that film.

But seriously. Four people? You're hanging reason on four people? Who have nothing to do with the AMPAS? Seriously?

It's questionable.

Otherwise, you're just spinning your wheels, because no one has disagreed with the fact that a) precursors don't mean much in this category and b) Pan's has a shot at a nod. So why push your agenda so hard?

Also, you're not privy to real information, at least as far as "Babel" is concerned. Vantage has been quite agressive. They sent copies of the score out to guild and AMPAS members and the press LONG ago, and they've been building steam elsewhere as well, with much more vigor than any other stuio. They even sent out copies of "I Need to Wake Up" from "An Inconvenient Truth" with the lyrics enclosed. That's what wins nominations...fortitude.

I'm not saying "Babel" is a lock, or even likely. But you're disregard of its possibilities proves a certain shade of ignorance, I must say.

ANd I wouldn't call your Pan's prediction "daring."

Oh, and last thing...I certainly appreciate the help and the purposeful discussion. Doesn't mean I'm not gonna argue...


I'm not basing my whole argument on four votes, because I agree that anyone that would do that is really pushing it. I had faith that the score would pull out a nomination anyhow.

And my reasoning for having it at number 1 is daring to say the least. I don't think Pan's Labyrinth is the most secure thing for a lock anyhow. I think The Painted Veil is that score now. Not only is it quickly becoming the most beloved score on here, but the tranquility and the recent GG win makes it a likely nominee and possibly a winner.

However, I think that if Pan's Labyrinth is nominated I think it will win, and the way I come to that conclusion is that it is a beloved fantasy foreign language film with a haunting score. That's a big plus.

What makes me upset is not that the score isn't at the top of everyone's list. It's the fact that it's being disregarded completely. I've never seen it on your top ten charts, I haven't seen it on anybodies. And I think the fact that they are completely disregarding this score that screams Oscar for scores that just did well in the precursors. I just can't wait until Tuesday morning when everybody complains how they couldn't do better in this category, and I only expect to get 2-3 right myself, but I can just see some people not getting a single prediction right.

Don't trust film score fans on "Babel," they hate it. It's not a traditional score and therefore it's generally reviled on soundtrack websites. However, it is probably the most noticed score of the year, and while I don't think Santaolalla will win two years in a row, I think he is the closest thing to a lock in this category.

My favorite score of the year is "The Fountain," which has been consistently nominated, with "Notes on a Scandal" running a close second. Blasinggame, you cite all those derisions of Glass' work, but don't forget that many said the same thing about his score for "The Hours," which got a nomination back in 2002. Glass is a love him or hate him affair, and the composers respect him, and I think they will recognize him for "Notes," being the more accomplished of the two films.

"The Painted Veil" may have won the Golden Globe, but "The Queen" is the more respected film, and in my opinion has the better score. I think since it's the one with the most awards buzz it will be the one to be nominated.

And there is almost always a kids' film that sneaks in, and "Charlotte's Web" is by far the most accomplished score for a childrens' film this year.

"Pan's Labyrinth" has a great score, but I think it's more of a longshot. It's a possibility yes, but Javier Navarrete doesn't have a lot of name recognition within the industry. I won't count it out though.

Ditto for Thomas Newman's "The Good German," which is a throwback to the Golden Age of film scoring and is the kind of thing the Academy loves (i.e. "Far From Heaven").

My predictions are:

Gustavo Santaolalla, BABEL
Clint Mansell, THE FOUNTAIN
Alexandre Desplat, THE QUEEN

I'm just stunned people are still going for The Queen rather than The Painted Veil. The Painted Veil was recognized from the Golden Globe, and it has Oscar written all over it. Usually the Golden Globe winner of this category is nominated for the Oscar, unless the score is disqualified (The Aviator, Moulin Rouge). I have to say this is going to be the most exciting category come Oscar morning. I sincerely believe there are no locks in this category.

I can't disagree with you regarding the lack of locks (and the level of excitement), bblasing.

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