This Sunday, Westport’s eyes will be on Justin Paul. The 2003 Staples High School graduate and his songwriting partner Benj Pasek are up for 2 Academy Awards. Two of their “La La Land” lyrics — “City of Stars” and “Audition” — have been nominated for “Best Song.”
A 2nd Westporter is also up for an Oscar. Nicholas Britell’s “Moonlight” is among 5 nominees for “Best Original Score.”
Paul — who with Pasek also wrote the music for the current Broadway smash “Dear Evan Hansen” — has gotten plenty of local publicity.
Yet despite winning a Westport Arts Horizon Award in 2012, Britell has gotten less press here.
A 1998 graduate of Hopkins School in New Haven (as well as Juilliard and Harvard), he’s a New York-based composer, pianist, and film producer.
He composed and arranged spiritual and work songs, violin performances and dance numbers for “12 Years a Slave,” among many other credits.
Yesterday’s New York Times described how Britell “chopped and screwed” classical music, giving the “Moonlight” score its “otherworldly sound.” Click here for the full story.
Here’s wishing good luck to both Justin Paul and Nicholas Britell on Sunday. Besides growing up in Westport a few years apart, they’ve got another connection: Damien Chazelle. He’s known today for directing “La La Land.” Four years ago, he directed “Whiplash.” The producer was Britell.
(Hat tips: Anne Rutherford and Jeff Wieser. Click here for a full list of nominees for Sunday’s Academy Awards. If you spot any other Westport connections, click “Comments” below!)