Portland Playhouse A Christmas Carol Portland Oregon

PuzzleWatch: The Music Academy

Add some theme and variation to your Oscar viewing this year with a new crossword puzzle that's sure to test your knowledge of winning songs and movie scores.


The Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, where the 95th Academy Awards will be held. Source: Wikimedia Commons

It’s Oscar time. Some of us will arrange our entire schedules to watch every moment. Others are grateful for the record and fast-forward buttons on our remotes. And some may only read about the awards ceremony in the news the next morning.

However you choose to experience the Oscars, if you love movies, music—or, even better, movie music—then this month’s PuzzleWatch crossword is for you. It won’t remind you of past acceptance speeches or who hosted the ceremony in 1984 (it was Johnny Carson). But it might help you recall the special musical moments that stick with us…that “wicked witch peddling her bike” theme by Herbert Stothart, for instance. Or perhaps you’ll laugh, thinking about the magnificent quirkiness of Burt Bacharach’s “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head,” which set up another bike-riding scene. 

The best movie music doesn’t just assume a supporting role; rather, it takes the lead in defining mood, drama, pacing, setting, and all the other elements that go into movie magic. Good movie music isn’t incidental, but intrinsic to a film. Sometimes the music is so poignant it holds us in our seats until the end credits roll—like John Barry’s award-winning farewell music from Dances with Wolves.

We all have our favorite movie songs and scores. Some composers in this puzzle might be quite familiar (Hans Zimmer, Jerry Goldsmith, Rachel Portman); others, not so much (André Previn, Trent Reznor, Irene Cara). My one regret is that, for the sake of brevity, lyricists are not mentioned in the “Best Song” clues—but they share half of each Best Song Oscar with the composer. Kudos to those word masters.

Want to find those lyricists’ names and much more detail on every award nominee and winner? Visit the comprehensive and easy-to-use Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Database. It has info on every award ever won in every category and over 1500 acceptance speeches. Cue up that database (secretly) for your next Oscar trivia party (yes, it’s a thing). Or use it to help enjoy this crossword even more.

The Music Academy – Click here for an interactive puzzle you can fill out in your web browser

Download the puzzle as a printable PDF

Download the answer key

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Photo Joe Cantrell

Daryl Browne is a music educator, alto, flutist and writer who lives in Beaverton, Oregon.

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