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Archive for January, 2016

Movie Music UK Awards 2015

January 29, 2016 5 comments

mmukawardsI feel like I say this every year, but narrowing down my choices for the best scores of 2015 has been harder than ever. It’s been a wonderful year for film music – I managed to experience well over 400 scores this year, both by watching movies and listening to their soundtracks independently, and the quality of music being written in all corners of the world just gets better and better.

This year, I have nominated works from France, Iran, Japan, Lebanon, Norway, Portugal, and Spain, as well the USA and the UK, proving once again that if you look outside the mainstream, you can still find a lot of outstanding music being written for smaller-scale projects all across the world.

My choices for the best of the year range from major Hollywood blockbusters and art house dramas, to broad comedies, classic fairytales, and science fiction adventures that take you beyond the stars – so, for your reading and listening pleasure, I present the 2015 Movie Music UK Awards! Read more…

Best Scores of 2015 – Asia

January 27, 2016 3 comments

The sixth and final installment in my series of articles looking at the best “under the radar” scores from around the world concentrates on music from films from Asia, although all of main ones this year are from the far eastern nation of Japan, with a couple of interlopers from Iran and the Lebanon. In this article, I’m taking a deeper look at several truly excellent works, which range in scope from anime movies and prestigious TV series to fantasy adventures, small-scale dramas, and religious epics. Read more…

TOM JONES – John Addison

January 25, 2016 Leave a comment

tomjonesMOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Producer and director Tony Richardson drew inspiration from an 18th century English novel “A History of Tom Jones, a Foundling”, by Henry Fielding. He hired John Osborne to adapt it to the big screen and cast the film audaciously, selecting rising star Albert Finney for the titular role. Rounding out the cast was Susannah York (Sophie Western), Edith Evans (Miss Western), Joan Greenwood (Lady Ballaston), Hugh Griffith (Squire Western) and making his film debut, David Warner as the villain Blifil. The story offers a classic period piece full of drama, treachery, seduction and intrigue. Squire Allworthy discovers an infant on his bed and chooses to raise little Tom Jones as if he were his own son. Tom’s grows up to become an attractive, dashing, and very popular young man with the ladies, It comes to pass that he falls madly in love with Sophie, who returns his affections. Yet there is an insurmountable impediment – Tom is stigmatized as a bastard, and Sophie’s father forbids her to wed a man below her station. Blifil who seeks Allworthy’s estate engineers Tom’s dishonor and dismissal by Squire Allworthy. An irrepressible Tom however is not to be denied, and he travels far and wide, all the time enjoying a multiplicity of women, fine food and drink along the way! As fate would have it he ultimately triumphs, overcoming all obstacles set against him, and earns Sophie’s hand in marriage when his true identity as Bridget’s Allworthy’s illegitimate son and Allworthy’s nephew is finally revealed. The film was both a commercial and critical success, earning an amazing ten Academy Award nominations, winning four, for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay and Best Score. Read more…

Best Scores of 2015 – Spain and Portugal, Part II

January 21, 2016 1 comment

The fifth installment in my series of articles looking at the best “under the radar” scores from around the world takes a look at another great bunch of music from films and TV shows from Spain and Portugal. As I mentioned before, I have been very vocal in the past about my admiration for the music coming out of the Iberian peninsula, and this year just reinforces my view that some of the best film music in the world right now is being written there. This final crop features scores by Oscar nominees and promising newcomers, spanning documentaries and dramas and animated films, including three of the scores nominated for the 2015 Goyas, the Spanish Academy Awards. Read more…

THE DEVIL AND DANIEL WEBSTER – Bernard Herrmann

January 20, 2016 Leave a comment

devilanddanilwebsterMOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Following the success of Citizen Kane in 1941, RKO Studios launched a new project based on a short story “The Devil and Daniel Webster” by Stephen Vincent Benét. This Faustian tale centered on a New Hampshire farmer who sold his soul to the Devil for several years of prosperity, but then recants. When the Devil insists on payment Stone goes to trial, defended by famous orator, statesman and attorney Daniel Webster. The film offers both a celebration of the indomitable spirit of American independence as well as the dangers inherent in unchecked power. For the film, William Dieterle was hired to direct, and he assembled a fine cast, which included; Walter Houston (Mr. Scratch), James Craig (Jabez Stone), Anne Shirley (Mary Stone), and John Qualen (Miser Stevens). I would advise the reader to note that the studio later changed the title to “All That Money Can Buy”. The film was not a commercial success but garnered critical success, earning two Academy Award nominations, winning one for Herrmann for Best Score. Read more…

Best Scores of 2015 – United Kingdom

January 18, 2016 Leave a comment

The fourth installment in my series of articles looking at the best “under the radar” scores from around the world concentrates on music from films and TV shows from the United Kingdom. The British Isles have always been a major center for excellent film music, and this year is no exception: as well as scores for projects like Peter and Wendy, Wolf Hall, Poldark, Suffragette, Spectre, Mr. Holmes, and Far From the Madding Crowd, which I have already reviewed, the rest of this year’s bumper crop includes the scores for a low-budget thriller, two wonderful TV documentaries, a witty comedy, and a swashbuckling TV adventure series! Read more…

Academy Award Nominations 2015

January 14, 2016 Leave a comment

oscarstatuetteThe Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) have announced the nominations for the 88th Academy Awards, honoring the best in film in 2015.

In the Best Original Score category, the nominees are:

  • CARTER BURWELL for Carol
  • JÓHANN JÓHANNSSON for Sicario
  • ENNIO MORRICONE for The Hateful Eight
  • THOMAS NEWMAN for Bridge of Spies
  • JOHN WILLIAMS for Star Wars: The Force Awakens

This is the first Oscar nomination Burwell, the second Oscar nomination for Jóhannsson, the 13th Oscar nomination for Newman, and the 50th Oscar nomination for Williams, who previously won in 1971 for Fiddler on the Roof, 1975 for Jaws, 1977 for Star Wars, 1982 for E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, and 1993 for Schindler’s List. Morricone has previously been nominated for five Academy Awards, but has never won a competitive Oscar, although he did win an Honorary Award in 2007 “for his magnificent and multifaceted contributions to the art of film music”.

In the Best Original Song category, the nominees are:

  • AHMAD BALSHE (BELLY), STEPHAN MOCCIO, JASON DAHEALA QUENNEVILLE and ABEL TESFAYE (THE WEEKND) for “Earned It” from Fifty Shades of Grey
  • STEFANI GERMANOTTA (LADY GAGA) and DIANE WARREN for “Til It Happens To You” from The Hunting Ground
  • ANTONY HEGARTY and JOSHUA RALPH for “Manta Ray” from Racing Extinction
  • DAVID LANG for “Simple Song #3” from Youth
  • SAM SMITH and JAMES NAPIER for “Writing’s On the Wall” from Spectre

The winners of the 88th Academy Awards will be announced on February 28, 2016.

Golden Globe Winners 2015

January 10, 2016 1 comment

morriconeglobesThe Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) have announced the winners of the 73rd Golden Globe Awards, honoring the best in film and American television of 2015.

In the Best Original Score category legendary composer Ennio Morricone won the award for his score for The Hateful Eight. Morricone was not present at the ceremony, and his award was accepted by the film’s director, Quentin Tarantino. In his acceptance speech, Tarantino said:

Thank you! Wow, this is really cool. Do you realize that Ennio Morricone – who, as far as I am concerned is my favorite composer, and when I say favorite composer, I don’t mean movie composer, that ghetto, I’m talking about Mozart, I’m talking about Beethoven, I’m talking about Schubert, that’s who I’m talking about – and Ennio Morricone has never won an award for any one individual movie that he has done. He has in Italy! But not in America – and this is I know not America, it’s the Hollywood Foreign Press Association – but, I have to say – please wrap it up, I will – I have to say that I directed the movie that the great Ennio Morricone, at 87 years of age, did an original score for and won the Golden Globe. For Ennio, and his wife, I say thank you, and grazie. Grazie!”

The other nominees were Carter Burwell for Carol, Alexandre Desplat for The Danish Girl, Daniel Pemberton for Steve Jobs, and Ryuichi Sakamoto and Alva Noto for The Revenant.

In the Best Original Song category, the winners were Sam Smith and James Napier for their song “Writing’s On the Wall” from the James Bond movie Spectre.

The other nominees were Justin Franks, Andrew Cedar, Charlie Puth and Cameron Thomaz (Wiz Khalifa) for “See You Again” from Furious 7, David Lang for “Simple Song #3” from Youth, Max Martin, Savan Kotecha, Ilya Salmanzadeh, Ali Payami and Tove Nilsson for “Love Me Like You Do” from Fifty Shades Of Grey, and Brian Wilson and Scott Bennett for “One Kind Of Love” from Love and Mercy.

SANADA MARU – Takayuki Hattori

January 10, 2016 1 comment

sanadamaruOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

The annual NHK Taiga drama is a year-long television series broadcast on Japan’s main television network, NHK, and has been a staple of Japanese television since the first one was broadcast in 1963. It is widely considered to be one of the most prestigious television events of the Japanese calendar, attracting the cream of Japan’s dramatic talent, actors, writers, directors and composers. The 2016 NHK Taiga drama is Sanada Maru, which tells the life story of Sanada Yukimura, one of the last great historical samurai warriors in the “Warring States” period, and who is famous for successfully withstanding a great military siege in Osaka in 1615. Directed by Takafumi Kumira, it stars Masato Sakai in the leading role, and has an original score by composer Takayuki Hattori, who despite being a prominent figure in Japanese film music for more than 20 years may still be best known in the West for his monster movie score Godzilla Millennium from 1999. Read more…

Best Scores of 2015 – Europe

January 9, 2016 6 comments

The third installment in my series of articles looking at the best “under the radar” scores from around the world concentrates on music from films from mainland Europe. I know this is a very ‘broad brush’ description, but there are a number of countries this year where there are just one or two standout works which couldn’t justify an entire article to themselves, so I decided to present you with this bumper crop from across the entire continent instead! The scope is quite wide-ranging, and includes everything from French documentaries to Polish serial killer thrillers, Russian adventure movies, and Greek romantic dramas, by written Oscar-winners and exciting newcomers alike. Read more…

BAFTA Nominations 2015

January 8, 2016 Leave a comment

baftaThe British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) has announced the nominations for the 69th British Academy Film Awards, honoring the best in film in 2015.

In the Best Original Music category, which is named in memory of the film director Anthony Asquith, the nominees are:

  • JÓHANN JÓHANNSSON for Sicario
  • ENNIO MORRICONE for The Hateful Eight
  • THOMAS NEWMAN for Bridge of Spies
  • RYUICHI SAKAMOTO and ALVA NOTO for The Revenant
  • JOHN WILLIAMS for Star Wars: The Force Awakens

This is the second BAFTA nomination for Jóhannsson; the 6th BAFTA nomination for Morricone (who won the award every time he was previously nominated: for Days of Heaven in 1979, Once Upon a Time in America in 1984, The Mission in 1986, The Untouchables in 1987, and Cinema Paradiso in 1999); the 5th BAFTA nomination for Newman, who won in 1999 for American Beauty and again in 2012 for Skyfall; the 3rd BAFTA nomination for Sakamoto, who won in 1983 for Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence; and the 16th nomination for Williams, who has won on seven previous occasions: for Jaws in 1975, Star Wars in 1978, The Empire Strikes Back in 1980, E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial in 1982, Empire of the Sun in 1988, Schindler’s List in 1993, and Memoirs of a Geisha in 2005.

The winners of the 69th BAFTA Awards will be announced on February 14, 2016.

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THE HATEFUL EIGHT – Ennio Morricone

January 2, 2016 3 comments

hatefuleightOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

Ennio Morricone has been providing music for Quentin Tarantino’s films for a long time, but it is only recently that he has done so intentionally. Tarantino’s first six films – Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown, Kill Bill, Death Proof, and Inglourious Basterds – featured an eclectic, hand-picked selection of music comprising classic rock songs and score cuts from Tarantino’s favorite movies. Kill Bill and Inglourious Basterds most notably made use of music from several classic Morricone scores, including tracks from films such as Navajo Joe, The Good the Bad and the Ugly, The Big Gundown, Revolver, and Allonsanfàn, among others. Tarantino has been both praised and criticized for this approach; some love his idiosyncratic re-purposing of this music in a new and vital setting, while others say that their familiarity with some of the pieces causes a disconnect, diminishing their impact in their new context. Years ago, when questioned about his musical ideology, Tarantino said that he didn’t trust any composer enough to understand, and then musically reinterpret, his cinematic visions – the “soul of his movie”. Tarantino’s stance on this matter began to soften somewhat prior to his seventh film, Django Unchained, and at one point the rumor was that Ennio Morricone had agreed to score it – if anyone could get Tarantino to change his mind about the impact and importance of an original score, it would be Morricone. However, circumstances led to this not happening, and the final soundtrack featured an original Morricone song, “Ancora Qui,” but no original score. Read more…