Saturday, December 9, 2017

2017 Original Score Awards Roundup

Here's the 2017 Roundup of Original Score nominations and winners from various associations. Winners will be marked in red and updated regularly!


[nominations January 23rd]
[winners announced March 4th]


Dunkirk (Hans Zimmer)
Phantom Thread (Jonny Greenwood)
The Post (John Williams)
The Shape of Water (Alexandre Desplat)
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (Carter Burwell)
[winners announced January 7th]

[nominations January]
[winners announced February 18th]


The Breadwinner (Mychael Danna & Jeff Danna)
Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie (Theodore Shapiro)
Coco (Michael Giacchino, Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Robert Lopez & Germaine Franco)
Loving Vincent (Clint Mansell)
Olaf’s Frozen Adventure (Christophe Beck, Elyssa Samsel & Kate Anderson)
[winners announced February 3rd] 


Darkest Hour (Dario Marianelli)
Dunkirk (Hans Zimmer)
The Shape of Water (Alexandre Desplat)
War for the Planet of the Apes (Michael Giacchino)
Wonderstruck (Carter Burwell)
Wonder Woman (Rupert Gregson-Williams)


*Phantom Thread (Jonny Greenwood)
The Shape of Water (Alexandre Desplat) [runner-up]


Blade Runner 2049 (Hans Zimmer, Benjamin Wallfisch)
Dunkirk (Hans Zimmer)
Phantom Thread (Jonny Greenwood)
The Shape of Water (Alexandre Desplat)
War for the Planet of the Apes (Michael Giachino)


Baby Driver
Beauty and the Beast
Call Me By Your Name
The Shape of Water


*Blade Runner 2049 (Hans Zimmer, Benjamin Wallfisch)


*Phantom Thread (Jonny Greenwood)


Blade Runner 2049 (Hans Zimmer, Benjamin Wallfisch)
Dunkirk (Hans Zimmer)
Phantom Thread (Jonny Greenwood)
The Shape of Water (Alexandre Desplat)
War for the Planet of the Apes (Michael Giachino)




[winners announced December 18th] 



Blade Runner 2049 (Hans Zimmer, Benjamin Wallfisch)
Darkest Hour (Dario Marianelli)
Dunkirk (Hans Zimmer)
Phantom Thread (Jonny Greenwood)
The Post (John Williams)
The Shape of Water (Alexandre Desplat)


Sunday, October 22, 2017

Rejected Scores: Part II

Stage discussion (l-r) Malcolm Arnold, William Walton, Guy Hamilton

In this post found here, I featured stories of notable rejected scores and their replacements.
Here are a few more notable examples and some favorite stories of mine.  

9. Team America: World Police (2004)
[Marc Shaiman]

After their work on the South Park film in 1999, creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone got to work on their puppet comedy. After co-writing songs, Shaiman turned to writing the score while filming was still going. The plan was to rush through post production so the film could be released before the upcoming US election. The team finally caught up with Shaiman after a majority of the score was recorded, and decided to ditch the playful score. The studio and Parker wanted a score to match the Jerry Bruckheimer/Media Ventures sound the film was parodying, so they turned to Harry Gregson-Williams. Gregson-Williams scored it (with additional members from MV) like a straight action film in only a few weeks. Everything was so rushed, the original soundtrack famously doesn't list Gregson-Williams' name. 

8. The Golden Child (1986)
[John Barry]

For this Eddie Murphy Tibet-themed comedy, we got an lush Asian inspired Barry score and action similar to his later Bond films. Producers clashed with Barry during post production, and test screenings indicated a change of direction toward a contemporary synth sound better fitting the Eddie Murphy character. Michel Colombier was hired to compose a new score in a matter of weeks, with the final film and soundtrack still containing Barry cues.

7. Jennifer 8 (1992)
[Maurice Jarre]

Producers of this cop thriller sought after high-profile composer Maurice Jarre even while director Bruce Robinson had Christopher Young in mind after being a fan of Young's The Fly II. The studio won out, with Jarre writing and recording around 40 minutes of music. Apparently a lack of communication between Jarre and Robinson gave him not exactly what he wanted for the film. So Jarre was out and Young was brought in to compose his haunting score. Interestingly enough, 19 years later, Robinson worked with Young again on The Rum Diary.

6. Timeline (2003)
[Jerry Goldsmith]

After months of composing and recording the score for director Richard Donner, Goldsmith's score basically got edited out as the film headed into trouble. Reshoots, massive editing and bad screenings led to Goldsmith either redoing everything or backing out. For the action sound Donner wanted, he turned to relative newcomer Brian Tyler. Goldsmith's score ended up being his penultimate release with his passing in 2004.

5. Mission: Impossible (1996)
[Alan Silvestri]

According to director Brian DePalma, Silvestri's action score never worked being too busy or too melodic. As he was composing and finishing a day of recording, he received a call and was off the project. At the request of star/producer Tom Cruise, they turned to Danny Elfman who had just come off of a score for To Die For, starring Nicole Kidman. With limited time, Elfman composed a percussive action score unlike his previous work. 

4. Chinatown (1974)
[Phillip Lambro]

Fresh from the classical world but trying to break into film scoring, Lambro wrote the original score to Chinatown on the request of director Roman Polanski. After poorly received test screenings, it was decided to scrap his entire period-infused score. Producers turned to Jerry Goldsmith for the new score - and had to compose the replacement in 10 days. Even with this short span, Goldsmith's replacement score has become a classic. Oddly, it was Lambro's score that made appearances in the film's trailer and ads. 

3. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)
[Alexandre Desplat]

With Alexandre Desplat reuniting with director Gareth Edwards after Godzilla, it seemed like we'd get a different vision for a Star Wars score. Desplat got to work writing, but hadn't recorded anything from the score. As extensive reshoots muddled the production, Desplat's scoring schedule was adjusted and he'd no longer be available. Disney and Lucasfilm turned to Michael Giacchino, known for his large thematic orchestral scores for the studio. A lifelong dream to follow in the John Williams tradition, Giacchino only had around three months before the film's release. 

2. Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous (2005)
[Randy Edelman, John Van Tongeren]

Possibly the biggest offender of rejected scores are temp scores, the music used during production before the final score gets added. With this sequel, Edelman's original score (with additional music by Christophe Beck and John Van Tongeren) couldn't keep up with the temp score and basically was all dropped with Tongeren receiving composing credit. Film score fans probably can't make it through the final film with random cues from Miss Congeniality, Two Weeks Notice, I Am Sam, My Best Friends Wedding, Sweet November and even Chicken Run being used. (Edward Schearmur, John Powell, John Powell, James Newton Howard, Christopher Young, John Powell/Harry Gregson-Williams, respectively)

1. Battle of Britain (1969)
[William Walton]
Classical composer Sir William Walton returned to the film world, swayed by friends like lead actor Sir Laurence Olivier and composer Sir Malcolm Arnold. Arnold would assist the aging Walton by orchestrating, conducting and writing additional cues. With the score not long enough and not sounding enough like a standard aerial war picture, it was scrapped. Producers turned to Ron Goodwin (fresh off several British war films) to write the replacement. At the insistence of Olivier (threatening to take his name from the film), a piece of Walton remained in the film. The montage's "Battle in the Air" is still one of the score's highlights.   

For you score detectives out there, here's a rundown with a listing of how to hear some of these rejected scores.  Luckily many of these scores have been released recently.

Team America
No part of Shaiman's score has been released.
The Golden Child
While the original soundtrack featured a Barry cue and song, a 2011 release by La-La Land Records contains all of the unused score and Colombier's final score.
Jennifer 8
Jarre's entire score was released alongside Young's score in a 2012 La-La Land Records release.
Varese Sarabande released the regular soundtrack to Tyler's score, while the same label released a very limited release of Goldsmith's unused score in 2004 (posthumously)  - giving his fans one more score to hear.
Mission: Impossible
Bootlegs have surfaced over the years with Silvestri's unfinished score.  Rumor is that parts of the music became parts of the following year's Eraser.
While Lambro was being rejected, he made a deal with the studio for publishing rights in return for parts of his score to be used in the film's marketing. It took until 2012, but Perserverance Records released Los Angeles, 1937.  The deal included not mentioning the Chinatown title, but you can hear his whole unused score and trailer music.  
Rogue One
Since there are no recordings, it seems that Desplat's ideas will never be heard.
Miss Congeniality 2
There were no score releases for either film - rejected or otherwise.  But you can make your own playlist of temp tracks!
Battle of Britain
Walton's Battle in the Air was on the original LP.  It was the 1999 Rykodisc/2004 Varese Sarabande release that featured all of his unused score in addition to the Goodwin score.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Scoring the Series: Spider-Man

Back with Scoring the Series, as we look back at the various Spider-Man films.  With the release of the newest film, Spider-Man: Homecoming, we add Michael Giacchino to the list of top composers for our favorite web-slinger.  Here are the credits to each film with some scoring photos tossed in.   

Spider-Man (2002)
Music composed by Danny Elfman
Conducted by Pete Anthony
Orchestrated by Steve Bartek, Mark McKenzie, Edgardo Simone, David Slonaker, Marc Mann
Recorded and mixed by Dennis Sands
Recorded at Sony Pictures Scoring Stage

Spider-Man 2 (2004)
Music composed by Danny Elfman
Conducted by Pete Anthony
Orchestrated by Steve Bartek, Mark McKenzie, Edgardo Simone, David Slonaker
Additional music by John Debney, Christopher Young
Recorded and mixed by Dennis Sands
Recorded by the Hollywood Studio Symphony
Recorded at Sony Pictures Scoring Stage

Spider-Man 3 (2007)
Music composed by Christopher Young
Conducted by Pete Anthony
Orchestrated by Pete Anthony, Bruce Babcock, John Kull
Original themes/cues by Danny Elfman

The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)
Music composed by James Horner
Conducted by James Horner
Orchestrated by James Horner, J.A.C. Redford, Jon Kull, Steve Bernstein, Peter Boyer, Carl Johnson, Randy Kerber
Music arranged by Simon Rhodes, Simon Franglen, Ian Underwood
Recorded and mixed by Simon Rhodes
Recorded at Sony Pictures Scoring Stage

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)
Music composed by Hans Zimmer and the Magnificent Six
(Michael Einzinger, Junkie XL, Andrew Kawczynski, Johnny Marr, Steve Mazzaro, Pharrell Williams)
Conducted by Nick-Glennie Smith
Orchestrated by Bruce Fowler, Walt Fowler, Suzette Moriarty, Rhea Fowler, Kevin Kaska
Additional music by Andy Page, Adam Peters, Czarina Russell, Mario Reinsch
Recorded by Alan Meyerson
Recorded at Sony Pictures Scoring Stage

Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)
Music composed by Michael Giacchino
Conducted by Marshall Bowen III
Orchestrated by Jeff Kryka, William Ross, Marshall Bowen III, Cameron Patrick, Curtis Green, Michael Giacchino
Recorded and mixed by Joel Iwataki
Recorded at 20th Century Fox's Newman Scoring Stage 

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Top 10 Scores Turning 10 in 2017

Back to our musical score time machine!  This time, we're only looking back 10 2007! Here's a look back at the scores of 2007 with my list of the 10 Best Scores Turning 10!

Let's start the ranking!

10. Spider-Man 3 (Christopher Young)
After scoring a few cues for the previous film, Young took over the whole score from Danny Elfman.  This score stands out by expanding on Elfman's material and style while adding Young's Black Suit Spider-man, Sandman and Venom material (among others).  Like Spider-Man 2, additional composers were brought in rescore sections.  Sadly, no score release has ever been released.

9. The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep (James Newton Howard)
A mix of childlike fantasy, Celtic influences, orchestral action makes this likely a favorite from JNH fans.  The sweeping orchestral writing near the finale is especially moving and brings me back to this score for several repeated listens.       

8. Partition (Brian Tyler) 
Typical Brian Tyler fans probably wouldn't find or seek this score, and likely you haven't seen this drama about the creation of Pakistan.  The main theme and vocal solos are a sure standout, with tasteful ethnic instrumentation incorporated throughout.

7. Stardust (Ilan Eshkeri) 
If you haven't seen or heard this one, put it on your list.  This score fits snuggly in the action fantasy category with twinkling instrumentation, broad orchestrations, choir and charming melodies.  There are heavy Lord of the Rings/Narnia influences, but still Eshkeri's strongest efforts.  

6. I Am Legend (James Newton Howard
While a good chunk of the film deals with the main character's isolation with silence, the score's album contains more music.  The orchestral/choral theme for our main character is a standout among action cues and sweeping moments later in the film.  

5. Atonement (Dario Marianelli) 
For this period piece, Marianelli composed what could be mistaken as concert music.  Cello and piano solos stay in the forefront in this largely romantic-yet-subdued score.  The two main melodies appear regularly, as does bits of typewriter.  

4. 3:10 to Yuma (Marco Beltrami) 
Gritty western is the usual way of describing the film and score.  Notable are the darker motifs with innovative instrumentation mixed with sound design.  Beltrami matches the tension of the film, before finally unleashing more outstanding action. 

3. The Golden Compass (Alexandre Desplat) 
From the beginning of this fantasy epic (a trend of mine emerges), Desplat brings you into this new world.  Everything is crafted neatly and themes are woven into interesting textures (utilizing some instruments and orchestral sounds you don't always hear).  This is also one of Desplat's first "big" films, giving him the chance to write action cues still crafted with the same care as his French films.

2. Pirates of the Caribbean: At Worlds End (Hans Zimmer) 
With easily the best of the Pirates scores, Zimmer & co. bring the orchestra whipping up some great rollicking moments.  With new themes expanding the past films, new material includes a love theme, pirate anthem, more quirky Jack Sparrow material, Asian influences, and even Morricone takeoffs.  Even while riffing on things done before, the score seems fresher and even sounds better.  

1. Ratatouille (Michael Giacchino)
For this still delightful Pixar film, Giacchino delivers a perfect blend of French textures, jazz, a pinch of romance, a strong main theme and subsequent song.  The energetic action cues sit nicely next to the sentimental moments.  With the balance of sweetness and upbeat excitement, it's easy to see how Giacchino became a Pixar favorite and how this score earns top place of the year.     

Honorable Mentions:
August Rush (Mark Mancina), The Bourne Ultimatum (John Powell), Eastern Promises (Howard Shore), Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (John Ottman), Meet the Robinsons (Danny Elfman), There Will Be Blood (Jonny Greenwood), Zodiac (David Shire)

Any favorites of yours from 2007 that I didn't include?  Comment below!

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Spotlight On...The Fast and the Furious

The newest Spotlight On takes a look back at the The Fast and the Furious franchise.
These street racing/heist/revenge action films are more popular than ever and have featured what feels like the most frequent action cues.  So rev up your engines and let's take a look back on the films score by score.

The Fast and the Furious (2001)
Music by BT
Composer and musician Brian Transeau was well established in the electronica world, but film scoring was still relatively new.  His score features some non-traditional writing techniques and included complex rhythm patterns on car chassis parts.  Clearly the techno style has followed through most of the later films.  Since the original focus was the song soundtrack, only a few tracks appear on the More Fast and Furious album.  (Just listen to: Race Wars, Nocturnal Transmission, The Fast and the Furious Theme) 

2 Fast 2 Furious (2003)
Music by David Arnold
Director John Singleton brought David Arnold to this less than desirable sequel, with a few action James Bond films under his belt.  Arnold matched the glowing street racing musically with a hard rock influence of drum loops and electronic elements.  Unfortunately no score tracks were released on any official albums.

The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006)
Music by Brian Tyler
Tyler continued the mix of electronics and orchestra, letting guitars and brass stay in the forefront of the constant action cues.  Tyler does include a bit more thematic material that threads through the score.  His action writing led to Tyler basically taking over the franchise's overall sound.  (Just listen to: Neela Drifts, Downtown Tokyo Chase, Symphonic Touge)

Fast & Furious (2009)
Music by Brian Tyler
More symphonic than the last, the score never loses its roots in the guitars and electronic rhythms and hints of techno.  Welcome slower moments include Letty's acoustic guitar theme and love theme.  (Just listen to: Letty, The Showdown, Suite)

Fast Five (2011)
Music by Brian Tyler
The orchestral side of the score is more dominant.  The drumset, guitars and electronic loops give the score a bit more edge.  The new main theme will become a film mainstay while new characters (like Dwayne Johnson's Hobbs) lead to some new thematic motifs.  Overall, Tyler continues his typical action chops, with some memorable cues that don't feel like retreaded material.  (Just listen to: The Perfect Crew, Dom Vs Hobbs, Train Heisht, The Vault Heist)

Fast & Furious 6 (2013)
Music by Lucas Vidal
With Tyler stepping aside for other projects, young composer Vidal stepped with an equally action-packed score that blends nicely with the past scores.  In fact, themes and full cues from Tyler's scores of films 4 and 5 appear.  In addition, no official score album was released. 

Furious 7 (2015)
Music by Brian Tyler
For film 7, Tyler returned with possibly the freshest of the scores while still developing past material.  The main theme returns as does the theme for Hobbs, and a menacing theme for villain Shaw.  Choir makes an appearance in this score, seemingly upping the score just like the films themselves.  The emotional side of the series has popped up occasionally, but with Paul Walker's touching tribute, Tyler's emotional aspect exactly hits the mark.  (Just listen to: Furious 7, Battle of the Titans, One Last Stand, Farewell)

The Fate of the Furious (2017)
Music by Brian Tyler
Containing some of the betrayal and vengeance parts of the film, Tyler connected several past themes for Letty and Dom in slighty darker moments.  All of the Tyler essentials appear at full blast.  This score doesn't add much to the musical world we've heard already as the long album moves along.  (Just listen to: Zombie Time, Davidaniya, The Return)  

Check out the others in the SPOTLIGHT ON.... SERIES!