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« Inside Llewyn's Gotham Awards | Main | Interview: Julie Delpy on the ideal way to watch the "Before" trilogy »

Team FYC: 'Nebraska' For Best Original Score

In this series TFE contributors sound off on their favorite fringe contenders. Here's Anne Marie on Mark Orton and the Tin Horns.

Alexander Payne's latest film Nebraska is getting much-deserved acting kudos. Bruce Dern has undoubtedly given a career-topping performance as the muddled and melancholy Woody. However, an unacknowledged but equally fine character is the folk score by Mark Orton. Orton reunited with his band the Tin Horns to play the music for his first feature film score. They mix traditional bluegrass elements like guitar and fiddle with surprises including a dobro and a xylophone. The effect is full Americana with a lot of quirkiness and a little sadness--giving voice to the unvoiced themes in the film.

Like Deborah, I ask that the Academy think small this year. We have the usualy heavy-hitters filling film scores with sound and fury, and soon the Coen Brothers will be releasing that other folk film that's sure to turn attention away from Nebraska. However, Mark Orton's score stands alone.  Like other characters in the film, the score hints at deeper meanings but never falls into the easy cliches and chords of melodrama. With deceptively simple orchestrations and a powerful musical thread throughout, Mark Orton has crafted a beautiful score that feels both familiar and unique.

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Reader Comments (12)

The score, Will Forte, and the lady who ran the newspaper were the only things I liked about it. The rest of it--for me--was like dental work without anesthesia. Alexander Payne's rueful, sardonic tone has curdled into something nasty and foul here.

However, the moody, minimalist score--not unlike "Brokeback Mountain"--was bleakly effective. (I still liked the score to "Dear Mr. Watterson…" a lot more, which I also saw yesterday.)

December 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDback

dback -- what is that?

also disagree on Payne's sardonics curdling. I think Nebraska has some genuine warmth under its bite

December 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNathanielR

The score is plaintively gonzo. Oscar nom for sure.

December 3, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

Totally with Dback on this one, minus Forte.
Payne's critical success is unbelievable to me.

December 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAmir

LOVED the score. fit the film perfectly. both slightly humorous and melancholy. i've heard there might be some eligibility issues with i do hope it gets recognized.

December 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMrJeffery

Will Forte and the newspaper lady?! I thought both parts were woefully miscast! Lol.

The score is aces, though. Such a lovely counterpoint to all the Hans Zimmer-y bombast elsewhere.

December 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRoark

I agree. Love this score. Interestingly, it's the only score from a best picture contender that I've really liked.

December 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterEvan

That lady from the newspaper office was so touching! Her character embodies all those people from someone's past who sees the person you know in a completely different, sincerely penetrating light. That lovely scene was yet another bull's-eye for Payne's wonderfully heartfelt elegy.

December 3, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

Evan, I agree. Most of the scores getting buzz have really struck the wrong chord with me (sorry). I think the worst offense a score can make is to clash with the film. It may be a great musical piece on its own, but if it doesn't fit with the film then it distracts. That's the problem I've had with many of the buzz-y scores this year; Saving Mr. Banks and August: Osage County in particular.

December 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAnne Marie

Ok, you totally just convinced me to buy this soundtrack. Love this film so much and the music fit perfectly. I get the sardonic comments, I really do, but that is what made it work for me. It felt real and true, and so much what I experienced growing up in a tiny town. It's a sort of dark Mayberry, where there is goodness and caring, but the barely hidden nastiness is what gave it depth to me. This is probably my favorite film I've seen thus far this year and DEFINITELY my favorite Payne as I've never particularly warmed to his work previously.

December 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterHannahlily

Saw the film on Sunday and immediately made a mental note to look up the score. Since then, I've been listening to it on loop. I love it.

December 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMarina

I'm glad this score is getting the attention it deserves. It's one of the many elements I really enjoyed from Nebraska. It deftly accommodated the film's often dry and somber visuals. Beautifully written, Anne Marie.

December 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJohn

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