A twofer this time as I look at one of two music categories, Best Original Score. I will hopefully be starting the actual awards on May 1! But who knows. I may be busy on that day?
Best Original Score
Mark Isham for The Black Dahlia
Just like Brian DePalma's film itself, Mark Isham's score is big and grand and completely over-the-top at times, but also like the film, it actually does slow down from time to time to about the only level of "subtle" that DePalma is capable of. The score is all horns and and brass and track names such as "The Zoot Suit Riots". Oh yes.
Randy Newman for Cars
Just like the Academy, I am a sucker for musical scores by two men. And they both have "Newman" in their names. The first is Randy Newman. I'm a fan of his big sweeping musical arrangements such as "McQueen and Sally". Although for Cars he throws in Americana twang, which I just adore. Then there's stuff like the bonkers "Tractor Tipping".
Clint Mansell featuring Moguai for The Fountain
One of the things I'm enjoying lately the re-emergance of electronic music into film scores. Just recently Danny Boyle's Sunshine featured it, as has Tomandandy's mentioned score below. The finest example of mixing it with traditional film scoring is Clint Mansell's work on The Fountain. Epically dense and magical, haunting and soulful. The best bit is that the scenes set in the future sound like they were scored about 40 years into the future on tracks like "Death to the Road to Awe".
Thomas Newman for The Good German and Little Children
The other Newman delivered two fine scores this year. The Oscar-nominated work for The Good German is my favourite, but he also works magic on Little Children's chimes and airy mystique. In The Good German he takes his lead from scores of old to create a big and bold throwback, best demonstrated in the main title theme "Unrecht Oder Recht" and "A Persilschein".
Tomandandy for The Hills Have Eyes
A surefire winner for Scariest Soundtrack of the year. Tomandandy's, there it is again, mixture of electronic music and traditional scoring helps this Wes Craven remake make headway into it actually not being a pointless exercise (Hi Rod Zombie). That story about the MPAA giving the film an NC17 rating purely for "intensity" surely came about because of the trailer sequence and the music pieces "Beast Finds Beauty" and "Trailer" are more than half the reason why it was so intense.
Terrance Blanchard for Inside Man
An exciting and exhuberant score by Spike Lee's go-to man. Like the rest of Lee's bank heist thriller, it feels just like a really upscale version of what you expect but then they throw in old school ditties like "Food Chain" along with the tense and exciting "Ten Thirty" and you realise there's way more bubbling away than the casual moviegoer may see.
Paul Kelly and Dan Luscombe for Jindabyne
Just like Kelly's score for Ray Lawrence's last film Lantana, his work on Jindabyne is hypnotic and never overbearing. Slowly creeping up on the viewer and emersing them in the slow-moving country surroundings of the film's setting, Kelly and Luscombe create a mystical and wonderful score.
Alexandre Desplat for The Painted Veil and The Queen
Unfortunately for me I haven't actually seen John Curran's The Painted Veil so I don't have the film experience to guide me as to how well Desplat's score works, but from all reliable sources it apparently works fantastically. An elegant and sombre score that goes alongside Desplat's more, uh, sprightly work for Stephen Frears' The Queen. A formidable combo.
Javier Navarrete for Pan's Labyrinth
Much like the rest of Del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth Javier Navarrete's Oscar-nominated score is brimming with magic. It has the film's fairy-tale-gone-dark tone down in spades ("The Fairy and the Labyrinth"). And it is that dark side that makes this score so beguiling. "Not Human" is a particularly amazing piece of music.
David Julyan for The Prestige
A score where even the quiet stuff is loud, but when it's this good I didn't want it to shut up. All lush and dramatic strings (such as on "Are You Paying Attention" and "The Light Field") with beguiling magical moments in between. I hope David Julyan goes on to much more as he really impressed me here. I also just discovered he did the score for The Descent so that's totally a bonus.
Alberto Iglesias for Volver
Ditching the Hitchcockian noir of his Bad Education work, Iglesias now turns to melodrama for his score to Almodovar's latest. An utterly enchanting exercise in upbeat but sinister music, Iglesias' work here is engaging and delighful, much like the movie it represents.
I also enjoyed Dario Marianelli's work on Opal Dream, John Powell's minimal background music in United 93 and the work of Gabriel Yared and Underworld for Anthony Minghella's Breaking and Entering.