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Introducing the Fathers of Film Music series

March 30, 2014 Leave a comment

As you all may be aware, I have an unabashed passion for Golden Age film scores. I was very happy to join Movie Music UK in 2010 and be given the opportunity to review the wonderful scores from this era. Sometime ago I had an idea to enhance the MMUK experience by providing our readers with more insight and knowledge of this era. I offered to provide a new series where I would explore the biographies, style, filmography, masterworks, awards and legacy of the great film score composers of the past.

It seemed to me from my discussions at different film score community sites that for many members, while there was an understanding and appreciation of modern film scores, much of its earlier history and works for the most part remained unexplored, the proverbial terra incognita. As a student of film score history, I believe that to better understand and appreciate the present, you must first understand the past. As any archeologist can attest, there are great treasures of the past just waiting to be discovered. It is my sincere hope that I can serve as a your guide on a personal quest of discovery of some of the greatest composers and scores ever written.

I am very pleased to launch this series with an exploration of how it all began, with none other than the true Father of Film Scores, a film score Titan, and one of my favorite composers, the legendary Max Steiner. The first article will go live on Tuesday April 1st, and will continue with a new article on the first of each month from now on.

All the best!

Craig Lysy

IFMCA Award Winners 2013

February 20, 2014 Leave a comment

abelkorzeniowski-ifmca2INTERNATIONAL FILM MUSIC CRITICS ASSOCIATION ANNOUNCES WINNERS; COMPOSERS FROM POLAND, SPAIN, DOMINATE

The International Film Music Critics Association (IFMCA) announces its list of winners for excellence in musical scoring in 2013. This year’s awards have a real international flavor, with the top awards going to composers primarily from Poland and Spain, but also from France, Japan and Argentina.

The award for Score of the Year goes to Polish composer ABEL KORZENIOWSKI for his beautiful score for director Carlo Carlei’s new cinematic version of the classic Shakespeare story of tragically doomed love, ROMEO AND JULIET. IFMCA member Christian Clemmensen called the score an “epic romance”, and felt that the film “inspired greatness out of the right composer”, while IFMCA member Jon Broxton said that Korzeniowski “is a composer who is not afraid to bring out the deeper sentiments in a film through his music, and it’s so refreshing to hear music from a man who so clearly understands what good film music can achieve”. Read more…

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IFMCA Award Nominations 2013

February 6, 2014 Leave a comment

ifmcasquareINTERNATIONAL FILM MUSIC CRITICS AWARD NOMINATIONS ANNOUNCED; POLISH COMPOSER ABEL KORZENIOWSKI LEADS FIELD

The International Film Music Critics Association (IFMCA) announces its list of nominees for excellence in musical scoring in 2013. In this 10th Anniversary year of the IFMCA’s creation, the most nominated composer is Abel Korzeniowski, who received six nominations: Score of the Year, Best Drama Score and Film Music Composition of the Year for his work on director Carlo Carlei’s new screen version of the classic Shakespeare romance “Romeo and Juliet”; Best Fantasy/Sci-Fi/Horror Score and Film Music Composition of the Year for his work on director Randy Moore’s unusual satirical fantasy-horror set in a nightmarish Disney theme park, “Escape From Tomorrow”; and a personal nomination as Composer of the Year. Kraków, Poland-born Korzeniowski has previously been nominated for three IFMCA Awards, winning the award for Best Drama Score for “A Single Man” in 2009. Read more…

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Movie Music UK Awards 2013

January 20, 2014 14 comments

romeoandjuliet-smallSCORE OF THE YEAR

  • ROMEO AND JULIET, Abel Korzeniowski
  • ESCAPE FROM TOMORROW, Abel Korzeniowski
  • EVIL DEAD, Roque Baños
  • THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG, Howard Shore
  • THE WIND RISES, Joe Hisaishi

Of every score released this year, none impressed me more than Romeo and Juliet by Abel Korzeniowski. It’s the ultimate portrayal of romantic love: passionate, longing, and beautiful, and musically-speaking it ticks all the boxes, by being multi-thematic, structurally interesting, and wonderfully performed by a full orchestra. Korzeniowski’s stellar year continued with his lush, sweeping, ironic score for the unusual fantasy Escape from Tomorrow, where his music helped the film satirize the conventions of Disneyland, and convey the hallucinations of a man slowly losing his mind in the theme park. Japanese composer Joe Hisaishi gave his final collaboration with director Hayao Miyazaki, The Wind Rises, a trio of gorgeous themes, including one rooted in the sunny music of the Mediterranean for the man who designed a fighter plane for the Japanese in World War II. Howard Shore returned to Middle Earth for the second Hobbit movie, The Desolation of Smaug, and further enhanced his reputation with a dark, complicated score featuring a multiplicity of themes, enormous action music, and gorgeous orchestral textures. And speaking of dark, complicated scores, none was darker than Roque Baños’s Evil Dead, a roaring, thunderous musical celebration of horror featuring the year’s standout instrumental choice – the air raid siren!

The five other scores rounding out my Top 10 are: THE BOOK THIEF by John Williams, COLETTE by Atli Örvarsson, COPPERHEAD by Laurent Eyquem, INSTRUCTIONS NOT INCLUDED by Carlo Siliotto, and STAR TREK: INTO DARKNESS, music by Michael Giacchino. Read more…

Wojciech Kilar, 1932-2013

December 29, 2013 1 comment

Wojciech KilarComposer Wojciech Kilar died on December 29, 2013 at his home in Katowice, Poland, after a battle with cancer. He was 81.

Kilar was born in Lvov, Ukraine, when it was still part of Poland, in July 1932, but moved to Katowice in Silesia in 1948 with his father, a gynecologist, and his mother, an actress.  Kilar studied at the State Higher School of Music in Katowice under composer and pianist Władysława Markiewiczówna, at the State Higher School of Music in Kraków under composer and pianist Bolesław Woytowicz, and in Paris with  the legendary Nadia Boulanger in the late 1950s. Upon his return to Poland, Kilar and fellow composers Henryk Górecki and Krzysztof Penderecki led an avant-garde music movement in the 1960s, during which time he wrote several acclaimed classical works.

Kilar scored his first film in 1959, and went gone on to write music from some of Poland’s most acclaimed directors, including Krzysztof Kieślowski, Krzysztof Zanussi, Kazimierz Kutz and Andrzej Wajda. He worked on over 100 titles in his home country, including internationally recognized titles such as Bilans Kwartalny (1975), Ziemia Obiecana (1975), Rok Spokojnego Słońca (1984), Życie Za Życie (1991) and Pan Tadeusz (1999), plus several others in France and across other parts of Europe. Read more…

Star Wars

August 7, 2013 5 comments

After much thought and deliberation, I have decided that, from now on, I will no longer be assigning star ratings to any of the reviews I write. The main reason for this is because, for too long now, I have had the feeling that many of my readers simply look at the star rating at the end of the review and use it as a quick and easy overview of my thought processes about a particular score, when in actual fact I want the meat of the review itself to convey my feelings. Slapping an arbitrary *** rating onto this score or that score really does nothing other than try to distill 2,000 words of prose into a single idea, whereas in reality the differences between three star, three-and-a-half star and four star ratings are subtle and can be swayed by all manner of different criteria.

So, here we go. I hope that the change in thinking will not be too radical for everyone. I do spend a lot of time crafting my thoughts and trying to put over intelligent arguments and detailed descriptions of each score I review, and hopefully the lack of an all-encompassing thumbs-up or thumbs-down will encourage people to really read what I write, (hopefully) understand my point of view about things, and stir up some interesting debate and discussion, both in the comments here and on the MMUK Discussion Board.

Thanks everyone!

– Jon

Passionata Film Scoring raising funds for Oklahoma Tornado Relief

May 22, 2013 Leave a comment

redcrosslogo1The tornado which devastated parts of Oklahoma the other day has left many people dead and thousands homeless. My friend Phil Watkins, of Passionata Film Scoring, is currently running a silent auction to raise money for the American Red Cross and the Oklahoma Tornado Relief Fund.

Please see the following message from Phil for further details on how to donate to this worthy cause. Read more…

IFMCA Award Nominations 2012

February 7, 2013 1 comment

ifmcasquareINTERNATIONAL FILM MUSIC CRITICS AWARD NOMINATIONS REVEAL MOST OPEN RACE IN YEARS, WITH MULTIPLE NOMINATIONS FOR DANNA, DESPLAT, VELÁZQUEZ, WILLIAMS

FEBRUARY 7, 2013 — The International Film Music Critics Association (IFMCA) announces its list of nominees for excellence in musical scoring in 2012. The largest numbers this year are, for the most part, split evenly between four composers, all of whom received four nominations: MYCHAEL DANNA, ALEXANDRE DESPLAT, FERNANDO VELÁZQUEZ and veteran composer JOHN WILLIAMS.

The nominations for Danna, Velázquez and Williams were each for a single score – director Ang Lee’s vivid shipwreck drama LIFE OF PI, director Juan Antonio Bayona’s harrowing tsunami drama THE IMPOSSIBLE [LO IMPOSIBLE] and director Steven Spielberg’s look at the last months of life of Abraham LINCOLN, respectively.

Desplat’s nominations were for his body of work in 2012 which included writing IFMCA Award-nominated music for the quirky comedy MOONRISE KINGDOM, the storybook animation RISE OF THE GUARDIANS, and the contemporary war thriller ZERO DARK THIRTY, as well as for the 1970s espionage thriller ARGO, the realistic French romantic drama RUST AND BONE [DE ROUILLE ET D’OS], the Italian satirical comedy REALITY, and the French-language biopic CLOCLO.

The other nominees for Film Score of the Year are the ambitious sci-fi drama CLOUD ATLAS by Tom Tykwer, Johnny Klimek and Reinhold Heil (2 nominations), and director Peter Jackson’s epic fantasy prequel THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY by Howard Shore (2 nominations). Read more…

2012 Academy Award nominations

January 10, 2013 2 comments

oscarstatueThe nominations for the 2012 Oscars have been announced by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and in the Best Original Score category the nominees represent a broad cross-section of the most critically acclaimed films of the year. The nominees are:

  • MYCHAEL DANNA for Life of Pi
  • ALEXANDRE DESPLAT for Argo
  • DARIO MARIANELLI for Anna Karenina
  • THOMAS NEWMAN for Skyfall
  • JOHN WILLIAMS for Lincoln

This is the first Oscar nomination for Canadian composer Mychael Danna, who also picked up Golden Globe and BAFTA nominations for his wonderful score for Life of Pi, in my opinion the front runner to pick up the award. John Williams cements his position as the most critically acclaimed living film composer with his 48th Oscar nomination for his score for Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln. The other three composers – Alexandre Desplat, Dario Marianelli and Thomas Newman –all have multiple prior nominations, with Marianelli having previously won for Atonement in 2007.

The most unexpected nomination is that of Thomas Newman for the James Bond film Skyfall, which becomes only the second Bond score to be so nominated (after Marvin Hamlisch’s The Spy Who Loved Me in 1977) – astonishingly, none of John Barry’s iconic Bond scores or songs were ever nominated.

Some front running films whose scores were overlooked by the Academy include THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY by Howard Shore, THE IMPOSSIBLE by Fernando Velazquez, THE MASTER by Jonny Greenwood, THE SESSIONS by Marco Beltrami, SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK by Danny Elfman, ZERO DARK THIRTY by Alexandre Desplat, and CLOUD ATLAS by Tom Tykwer, Reinhold Heil and Johnny Klimek, which was shut out of the Oscar nominations entirely. Similarly, fan-favorites such as THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN by James Horner, THE DARK KNIGHT RISES by Hans Zimmer, JOHN CARTER by Michael Giacchino and RISE OF THE GUARDIANS by Alexandre Desplat failed to impress the Academy’s music branch this year. Read more…

Golden Globe Nominees

December 13, 2012 2 comments

goldenglobestatueThe nominations for the 2012 Golden Globes have been announced by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, and in the all-important Best Original Score category the HFPA have returned a list of nominees that, for once, actually represents five of the ten best scores written this year! The nominees are:

  • MYCHAEL DANNA for Life of Pi
  • ALEXANDRE DESPLAT for Argo
  • DARIO MARIANELLI for Anna Karenina
  • TOM TYKWER, JOHNNY KLIMEK and REINHOLD HEIL for Cloud Atlas
  • JOHN WILLIAMS for Lincoln

These are the first major film music award nominations for both Mychael Danna and the Cloud Atlas Pale 3 team, although Danna has been nominated for both a Grammy and and Emmy. This is the 6th nomination for Desplat, who won the award in 2006 for The Painted Veil, and the second nomination for Marianelli, who won both the Golden Globe and Oscar in 2007 for Atonement. Desplat is also a 4-time Oscar and 5-time BAFTA nominee. John Williams, of course, has six billion prior nominations.

In the Best Original Song category, the HFPA have cast the net far and wide, choosing nominees that range from 80s rock and modern day country music to legendary Broadway maestros. The nominees are:

  • ADELE ATKINS and PAUL EPWORTH for “Skyfall” from Skyfall
  • JON BON JOVI for “Not Running Anymore” from Stand-Up Guys
  • MONTY POWELL and KEITH URBAN for “For You” from Act of Valor
  • CLAUDE-MICHEL SCHONBERG, ALAIN BOUBLIL and HERBERT KRETZMER for “Suddenly” from Les Miserables
  • TAYLOR SWIFT, JOHN PAUL WHITE, JOY WILLIAMS and T-BONE BURNETT for “Safe and Sound” from The Hunger Games

Overall Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln leads the way with 7 nominations in total, with Argo and Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained picking up 5 nominations, and Les Miserables, Silver Linings Playbook and Zero Dark Thirty getting four each.

The Golden Globes are presented on January 13th, 2013.

Movie Music UK Awards 2011

March 6, 2012 2 comments

SCORE OF THE YEAR

  • MARK McKENZIE for The Greatest Miracle
  • LUDOVIC BOURCE for The Artist
  • DARIO MARIANELLI for Jane Eyre
  • JOHN WILLIAMS for The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn
  • JOHN WILLIAMS for War Horse

Of all the scores to make an impression on me in 2011, none did so with more power and beauty than Mark McKenzie’s THE GREATEST MIRACLE. Although the film itself is by all accounts horrible – a poorly animated Mexican film about life and Catholicism – the under-valued McKenzie’s music soars, imbued with a sense of spirituality, peace and beauty that was unmatched in the year. Running him a close second were the two scores from veteran John Williams – THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN: THE SECRET OF THE UNICORN and WAR HORSE – the latter of which won him the IFMCA Award for Score of the Year. They are filled with everything that is great about Williams’ music, with memorable themes, sparkling orchestrations, and the sense of fun and emotional strength that has made him the most popular and successful film composer of our time. French newcomer Ludovic Bource gave the superb silent film THE ARTIST a sense of time and place through his wonderfully loving homages to the Golden Age of the art, and won an Oscar for his troubles, while the delicate and heartfelt violin performances in Dario Marianelli’s JANE EYRE enraptured me from the moment I heard them almost a year ago, and remain amongst the best that 2011 has to offer.
Read more…

2011 IFMCA Award Winners Announced

February 23, 2012 Leave a comment

JOHN WILLIAMS WINS FIVE AWARDS FROM THE INTERNATIONAL FILM MUSIC CRITICS INCLUDING SCORE OF THE YEAR FOR “WAR HORSE”

The International Film Music Critics Association announces the winners of its eighth annual awards for excellence in musical scoring in 2011 with John Williams’ score for Steven Spielberg’s WAR HORSE topping the list, winning Film Score of the Year, Best Score for a Drama Film and Individual Cue for “The Homecoming.” Williams also wins Composer of the Year and Best Score for an Animated Film for THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN: THE SECRET OF THE UNICORN. French composer Ludovic Bource wins Breakout Composer of the Year for his score to THE ARTIST.

Cliff Martinez wins Best Score for an Action/Adventure/Thriller Film for Nicolas Winding Refn’s DRIVE. Best Score for a Comedy Film is given to THE RUM DIARY by Christopher Young. Michael Giacchino wins his 11th career award for JJ Abrams’ SUPER 8 in the Best Score for a Fantasy/Science Fiction/Horror Film category. Turkish composer Pinar Toprak wins Best Score for a Documentary Film for her score to THE WIND GODS.
Read more…

International Film Music Critics Award nominations 2011

February 9, 2012 Leave a comment

JOHN WILLIAMS RECEIVES 7 INTERNATIONAL FILM MUSIC CRITICS AWARD NOMINATIONS, INCLUDING TWO FOR FILM SCORE OF THE YEAR

The International Film Music Critics Association announces its list of nominees for excellence in musical scoring in 2011 with veteran composer John Williams leading the field with 7 nods including WAR HORSE (3 nominations) and THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN: THE SECRET OF THE UNICORN (3 nominations) for Film Score of the Year. Also nominated in this category are Ludovic Bource’s THE ARTIST (3 nominations), Mark McKenzie’s score to THE GREATEST MIRACLE (2 nominations) and Howard Shore’s HUGO (2 nominations).

Williams is short-listed for Film Composer of the Year along with Bource; last year’s winner, Alexandre Desplat (whose many scores include HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS PART 2, THE TREE OF LIFE, EXTREMELY LOUD AND INCREDIBLY CLOSE, THE IDES OF MARCH, A BETTER LIFE); Michael Giacchino (SUPER 8, MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: GHOST PROTOCOL, 50/50, MONTE CARLO, CARS 2) and Alberto Iglesias (TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY, LA PIEL QUE HABITO (THE SKIN I LIVE IN), TAMBIÉN LA LLUVIA, LE MOINE). Read more…

Awards Season

January 24, 2012 4 comments

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences have announced the nominees for the 2011 Academy Awards today, and in the all important music categories the nominees are:

- LUDOVIC BOURCE for The Artist
- ALBERTO IGLESIAS for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
- HOWARD SHORE for Hugo
- JOHN WILLIAMS for The Adventures of Tintin
- JOHN WILLIAMS for War Horse

It looks like Bource’s award to lose. Having already won this year’s Golden Globe for the same score, and with John Williams’ double-nomination for his two Steven Spielberg scores looking almost certain to cancel each other out, the young French composer is almost guaranteed to take home the gong for his excellent work on director Michel Hazanavicius’s excellent film about the end of the Hollywood silent film era. Howard Shore, for Martin Scorsese’s HUGO, and Alberto Iglesias, for the spy thriller TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY look to be the rank outsiders – in fact, Iglesias wasn’t on many people’s radar at all this year, despite having been nominated several times before. Read more…

Craig Lysy accepted to IFMCA

October 30, 2011 4 comments

It is with great pleasure that I announce that my friend and colleague, and master Golden Age expert for Movie Music UK, Craig Richard Lysy, has been accepted as a new member of the International Film Music Critics Association (IFMCA), and will be eligible to vote for the upcoming 2011 IFMCA Awards, and beyond. Craig has been an invaluable asset to the site since joining a year ago, expanding the site’s reach in terms of Golden and Silver Age coverage and reviews, and providing a more balanced outlook for the site, which had previously concentrated on only newer material.

Congratulations, Craig, and welcome to the club!

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