I 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…
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…
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…
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…
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…
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…
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.