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Entries in Original Score (36)

Wednesday
Jan212015

We Are the Link

Fistful of Film a wonderful personal take on We Are the Best from a father of girls 
Section Eighty a composer discusses the Oscar-nominated film scores
Coming Soon Milla Jovovich confirms she's about to make another Resident Evil movie, supposedly the final one. She turns 40 this year and started this series when she was but 25.
KCRW Actor Craig Chester believes he's haunted by the ghost of Montgomery Clift 
Out Alexis Arquette taking no prisoners in an interview. But bizarre that she didn't know her own sister was up for an Oscar! 

 

Indie Wire the lineup of New Directors New Films this year The Tribe and White God are both featured. They feel like anything but "new" to me after a whole year of festivalling but I still haven't had the chance to see either - will they ever open theatrically or just keep doing festivals like this one for a second year?
In Contention most anticipated films of Sundance 
We Recycle Movies you should check out Anne Marie's rainbow countdown to the Oscars
The Carpetbagger welcome to Phase 2 of the Oscars. Also: Mark Schultz changes his tune again on Foxcatcher. I am not saying this snarkily but with concern: this is why we need universal health care and easier access less stigma for mental illness treatment. Something is seriously wrong with this guy 

American Sniper Mania
Grantland excellent piece by Mark Harris on why American Sniper's box office won't help its Oscar run ... "success breeds scrutiny"
Rolling Stone on American Sniper's stupidity - they use a similar comparison to Forrest Gump like the one I tweeted icymi
Movie City News David Poland doing some train of thought hand wringing on the extreme combativeness of theAmerican Sniper and Selma Oscar battle... that isn't really a battle but that people have suddenly made it into one 
Playbill ...but perhaps the worst American Sniper news is that its leading Broadway's Elephant Man revival to cancel several performances due to Bradley Cooper's awards schedule 

Off Cinema
Pajiba the one reason to keep watching Girls 
NYT John Cameron Mitchell returns to Hedwig, the role which made him and also, not so incidentally, brought us a brilliant film director. Make another movie, Mitchell! All three of yours are heaven.
i09 looks at lesser known characters in the public domain. Will any of them be revived? 
i09 they also look at the case of James Bond, now public domain in Canada! But not in the US or Europe.
Towleroad's the story of Björk's new album, released two months early. Sad she broke up with Matthew Barney. They seemed like such an iconoclast match

Saturday
Dec132014

Oscars Songs & Scores. Plus: Chart Updates

Each year the list of eligible ORIGINAL SONGS that will vy for Oscar nominations holds numerous surprises. These surprises almost invariably fall under the question heading:

That movie had a song in it?"

Apart from song showcases that are an important part of the narrative - remember that sweet tense reunion between Hiccup's father and mother in How To Train your Dragon 2? - many songs are buried in their movies by way of incomplete airings or end credit positioning when people are exiting the theater  -- you have to be the first music in the end credits to be eligible at all. Come second and you're outta there as Madonna learned the hard way for her end credits "Masterpiece" in W.E. (that's the name of the song, not a qualitative judgement). The other annual head-scratcher question about this category is not the mean-spirited "Why does it exist?" but the far less frequently asked "Why is it afforded more nominees than the Makeup & Hairstyling category since literally all live action films require makeup & hairstyling and only a teeny-tiny portion of films have a composer on their payroll writing original songs. Indeed that question is only ever asked by The Film Experience though we think it a good one.

Makeup & Hairstyling is now the only Oscar category still considered unworthy of 5 nominations annually despite being a craft that's used in 100% of live-action movies which a few other categories cannot claim. But that's a topic for when the Makeup Branch finalist list is announced. Why am I talking about it now? My brain, inside a head that requires no hairstyling, hops track is all. Sorry bout it.

ORIGINAL SCORE
The annual list of eligible Original Scores for Oscar's music branch to consider holds a different kind of surprise altogether. Those surprises are about what's not listed. They fall under the question heading:

They disqualified that one? Why???"

This year apparently the music for Foxcatcher and The Two Faces of January -- to name two examples from famous composers (Danna & Iglesias respectively) -- wasn't "original" enough or something for Oscar. But the headline snub is Antonio Sanchez's work on Birdman. It's won much (rightful) attention for its unique percussive approach.

With Birdman out of the way, expect the five nominees to be: Alexandre Desplat (Unbroken), Alexandre Desplat (The Imitation Game) Alexandre Desplat (Godzilla) Alexandre Desplat (Grand Budapest Hotel) and Alexandre Desplat (The Monuments Men). I'm joking but there is no rule against it in the craft categories! You know if John Williams wrote five new scores in a year he'd win all five nominations. Somebody give Desplat a sedative before he burns himself out. He's so brilliant but do you think he'll stop working himself into an early grave once they give him the statue? He's won six nominations in the past decade, most of them from Best Pictures nominees or winners no less, but he has still yet to win the gold.

ELIGIBILITY LISTS AND A FEW MORE NOTES AFTER DESPLAT...

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Dec042014

Team FYC: "The Immigrant" for Original Score

Editor's Note: We're featuring individually chosen FYC's for various longshots in the Oscar race. We'll never repeat a film or a category so we hope you enjoy the variety of picks. And if you're lucky enough to be an AMPAS, HFPA, or Critics Group voter, take note! Here's Jose on The Immmigrant

Director James Gray has stated on many occasions that he owes his inspiration for The Immigrant to music, to be more specific: opera. How it was when he was watching Puccini’s Il Trittico at the LA Opera, with tears streaming down his face, that he realized he needed to tell this story. Inspired by Puccini’s sinful sister Angelica, he created the character of Ewa (Marion Cotillard) a Polish immigrant forced into prostitution by the conniving pimp Bruno (Joaquin Phoenix) who in a way is perversely in love with her. Gray wanted to tell a grand story about a woman in the vein of the Barbara Stanwyck films he loved, all of which were snootily referred to as “melodramas”.

And it’s precisely in this marriage of music and drama where The Immigrant proves to be absolutely sublime, Gray understood that to make an “operatic” film he needed not to exaggerate but to seek a depth of emotion heightened by the work of composer Christopher Spelman. The two have worked together in the past (going all the way back to Gray’s first film Little Odessa) and specifically they have used Puccini before, with Spelman arranging the orchestrations for the pieces used in Two Lovers.

In The Immigrant Spelman not only arranged the pre-existing opera pieces we hear throughout the film, he also composed a series of haunting melodies which both pay homage and carve their own way from where the Puccini ends. Spelman’s melancholy pieces are infused with a sense of longing that will have you humming them inexplicably days, months even, after you watch the film, making for an experience that’s quite operatic indeed.

Other FYCs 
Original Screenplay, The Babadook
Original Score, The Immigrant
Supporting Actress, Carrie Coon in Gone Girl
Visual FX, Under the Skin
Cinematography, The Homesman
Outstanding Ensembles

Tuesday
Nov042014

Will the Hollywood Music in Media Awards Tell Us Anything about Oscar?

Tonight in Los Angeles they're holding the Hollywood Music in Media Awards. I'm not familiar with this organization but this is apparently their fifth year. Two Oscar nominees, actor Eric Roberts (who has a small but key role in the upcoming Inherent Vice) and songwriter Stephen Bishop (Remember "Separative Lives" that duet from White Nights?), are among the handful of hosts and performances will include Antonio Sanchez (interviewed right here) performing a section of his all drum score for Birdman and Gregg Alexander doing "Lost Stars" from Begin Again (clearly the song to beat at this point but we wish they'd push for two nominations in that category because the whole soundtrack is so good).  

But will any of this tell us anything about Oscar? [More...]

Click to read more ...

Friday
Oct172014

Birdman's Beating Heart: An Interview with Composer Antonio Sanchez

Birdman, the pitch-black comedy from Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu that recently took the festival circuit by storm, opens in theaters today. Among its most distinctive and arresting features is its drum-based score, composed by Grammy-winning jazz drummer Antonio Sanchez. A classically trained musician considered by both critics and peers to be among the foremost drummers, bandleaders and composers in contemporary jazz, the Mexico City native had never scored a film before his partnership with Iñárritu. Margaret caught up with him to discuss the project. The soundtrack was released on October 14, on Milan records.

Margaret: Since you’re a first time film composer, how did you get involved with Birdman

ANTONIO SANCHEZ: I met Alejandro [Gonzalez Iñárritu] a few years back—there’s a very famous jazz guitar player that I play with a lot named Pat Metheney—and Alejandro has been a big Pat Metheney fan for a long time. In fact, the first time I ever heard Pat Metheney was in Mexico City when Alejandro used to DJ this radio show back in the day.

Margaret: No way!

ANTONIO SANCHEZ: He had a radio show on WFM 96.9 in Mexico City that played really hip, modern music-- music you would not normally hear on Mexican radio stations. I became a fan really fast.

Years later I was playing with Pat Metheney in L.A., and Alejandro came to the concert. I met him afterward, we really hit it off, and we kept in touch. Last year he called me to say he was going to shoot a film in the next couple months and was thinking that the perfect film score would be just drums, solo drums. And while of course I was interested, I had no idea how it was going to work. Like you said, it was my first time scoring a film, and also just drums? I had no idea how that would sound 

[Dreams of EGOT & Internal Monologues after the jump...]

Click to read more ...

Monday
Jul072014

Halfway Pt. 3: Sound, Songs, Score. What Did You Enjoy Listening To?

Having covered the most astounding visuals from the first half of 2014 let's move on to Sound. This is when I suddenly become shy, mutable, and tongue-tied as a critic. You may read this post at any decibel level but please know that I'm whispering it. A truth: sound is the aspect of filmmaking for which I feel least qualified to judge. I try to absorb what's happening in underscoring and with the mix and editing. I'm definitely more attuned that I once was. But the fact remains that my ears are neither as well trained nor as aggressive in consumption as my eyes. I love to hear other people talk sound and scoring (I recommend the book The Conversations by Walter Murch which is on film editing but it touches on sound as well) so please do share your favorites in the comments. I'll probably learn something if you do. At the very least I'll have more to consider. 

If I had to vote right now...

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE: Captain America: The Winter Soldier (Henry Jackman); Godzilla (Alexandre Desplat); The Grand Budapest Hotel (Alexandre Desplat); Noah (Clint Mansell); Snowpiercer (Marco Beltrami)... though I'd be hard-pressed to tell you why in all five cases other than that I responded to the music and thought it a fine match for the material tonally

BEST SOUND MIXING & EDITING: In these categories I'd undoubtedly go with some mix of the otherwordly bestial movies like Godzilla, Noah and How To Train Your Dragon 2 and I'd most definitely opt for Under the Skin and not just because my BFF and I leaned toward each other and whispered Yaz's "I Before E Except After C" lyrics during the enormously creepy vocalizations in the first minute of the film. But other than that I'm open to suggestions...

BEST ORIGINAL SONG: And now we can raise our voices again after the jump because I have five I LOVE already and we're only half finished with 2014. Guess what they are...

Click to read more ...