Saturday, February 04, 2012

Best of 2011: Original Score

... for yet another score that slinks its way fully inside a shadowy, scintillating sound design, while sustaining the film's slick 80s-pop bent;

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (ALEXANDRE DESPLAT)
... for a typically melodic, large-orchestra composition that balances the city's dynamic breadth with the jangling solitude of the protagonist;;

... for gale forces of electronica, infusing action set-pieces with humor and excitement but alert, too, to Hanna's confusions and introspection;

... for calling up Zimmer's often-mislaid sense of humor, in zesty cahoots with the film's crooked shapes, loopy dialogue, and goofball oddities;

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (ALBERTO IGLESIAS)
... for exploiting Iglesias' gifts for beauty and menace, using un-British musical idioms that cast global shadows inside this English labyrinth;

Runners-Up: In a weak year for this category, especially since I couldn't muster full enthusiasm for Ludovic Bource's peppy melodies for The Artist, Dario Marianelli sounding a shade too much like he's "doing Dario Marianelli" in Jane Eyre, and Howard Shore's low broods beneath A Dangerous Method, I'm cutting off the runners-up at three: one more hat-tip to Alberto Iglesias, paired again with frequent collaborator Pedro Almodóvar on his spindly, sidewinding, darkly translucent mystery-thriller The Skin I Live In; a salute to Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, who do not equal their triumph with The Social Network in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo but are certainly crucial to the film's rough, sleek, if slightly uneven textures; and a round of applause to Michael Giacchino for proving himself once again as a key participant in the Bad Robot repertory, giving Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol vim, vigor, humor, and bounce, without seeming intimidated at all by Lalo Schifrin.

Films I Hated to Skip Before Posting: Cold Weather

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Blogger Andrew K. said...

How strange, I found the pickings for original score this year to be especially dense. I like your pickings, though, because a number of them are among what I consider to be the year's best too.

I particularly like the bit you saw on Hanna (in fact, I love how you're one of those trumpeting that surprisingly forgotten film). You're so accurate about the humour, excitement and alertness amalgamating to one in the film, and the score specifically.

5:44 PM, February 04, 2012  
Anonymous Liz said...

Wow, I have four of your top five in my top five too! I am definitely an admirer of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close's score, but I have to bump it for Jane Eyre. My favorite classical score of the year.

Loving your choices so far!

6:32 PM, February 04, 2012  
Blogger Andrew Rech said...

Wonderful choices! Martinez has definitely proven to be quite reliable and I've loved him pretty much since Solaris. I gotta go with yet another Soderbergh collaboration for 2011 though. His work in Contagion, in my eyes, just squeezes past Drive, for his work of the year.

Marianelli would also make my top 5 for Jane Eyre, my favorite since Pride & Prejudice. I also really loved Harry Escott's work in Shame when I saw the film, but on stand alone listens it plays a bit...heavy? I'd have to rewatch, though I thought it was staggering in that opening train scene.

6:57 PM, February 04, 2012  
Blogger Shtajner said...

I love that you included Hanna on the list.
But I must ask about your favorites for 2010. As I can recall, you didn't announce any category. I'm especially curious about acting categories. Any chance we'll be seeing those list soon? :)

7:01 PM, February 04, 2012  
Blogger NicksFlickPicks said...

@A:EE: Given its genre and its release date, I think Hanna's actually hung on rather well in the year-end coverage I've seen. Though I haven't seen a lot.

@Liz and @Andrew: I should at least include Jane Eyre at the Artist/Method level of a score I liked a lot without being able to quite promote it to "Runner-Up" level. I keep wanting to re-watch the movie, but it felt a bit like self-quotation to me, and maybe a little busy at times? I remember the tenor of my reaction more than the particulars, and more than the score itself. Still, I would have preferred it to many of Oscar's default-feeling choices.

7:04 PM, February 04, 2012  
Blogger NicksFlickPicks said...

@Shtajner: This far out, it's hard to be fair about 2010, since I saw some of the movies 2+ years ago. I found some notes to myself for what would have been last year's honorees and they don't even extend to Score. I think they would have entailed some combo of Animal Kingdom, The Ghost Writer, How to Train Your Dragon, Inception, Let Me In, and The Social Network, though I also recall liking the music at the start of Buried, and it's hard to believe that White Material or Winter's Bone wouldn't have made some play, though I now don't remember the music from either one.

7:12 PM, February 04, 2012  
Anonymous Anita said...

Agree with all your choices, and I would also add Desplat's work on A Better Life. Loved it even more than his Extremely Loud score.

11:47 PM, February 04, 2012  
Anonymous JStor said...

Is it really bad that I honestly can't remember anything about the music to Drive apart from the 'Hero' song played at the end? I'm sure its score is great, but my fave is another Martinez joint: Contagion. After listening to it again on Sony's website, I find that it has real staying power. Also, continuing this loose theme of replacing scores from double-dippers, I can't remember anything from Iglesias' score for Tinker Tailor but can still hear those violins from The Skin I Live In.

Re-watching Rango just reminded me of how great its score is (although I think I like a lot more of that film than you), and though I haven't seen ELIC or Hanna, I have no doubt that their scores are great given their pedigree. (And that so many other people have commented on their quality.)

It is a shame you haven't yet to see Cold Weather, for so many reasons, but its score by Keegan DeWitt is a knock-out and completely in keeping with the tone of the film. Likewise Mark Suozzo for Damsels in Distress, whose score (and cinematography, and editing, and performances and so much else!) might seem as over-the-top, but also seems to fit perfectly with Stillman's aesthetic to me. Although I'll grant that this could be very divisive!

Finally (god this is rambling), I'd just like to stump for Nico Muhly's score for Margaret. Amidst all of the internet love for the actors and Lonergan, I'm surprised that this score has gotten a relatively short shrift in any discussion on the film. It's not a music-driven film, admittedly, but the intro and the interludes mesh perfectly with the confused and messy mise-en-scene and elevate the film's message rather than drenching it in saccharine (which I dread to fear what could have happened.)

P.S. I KNEW I HAD ONE MORE! I also really liked Desplat's intro and coda to Carnage: so much so that I stayed for the entire credits just to listen to the music. I'll shut up now...

8:20 AM, February 05, 2012  
Blogger Tim said...

I find myself agreeing with Andrew 1, that it was actually a pretty great year for movie scores in my opinion. And yet I still went 2.5/5 with your picks on my own list (the half is because I went Contagion for both Martinez scores). On top of what everybody else has mentioned, I was a particular fan of Giacchino's score for Super 8, Johnny Greenwood's really damn odd music for We Need to Talk About Kevin, and I'm actually a defender of John Williams's Tintin score, which I think is a good mix of pastiche and humor. Not so much War Horse.

Also, 100% with you on The Artist. Admirable for its quantity, but just not that interesting to listen to.

7:43 PM, February 05, 2012  

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