Archive for February, 2021

Golden Globe Winners 2020

February 28, 2021 Leave a comment

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) have announced the winners of the 78th Golden Globe Awards, honoring the best in film and American television of 2020.

In the Best Original Score category composers Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross, and Jon Batiste won the award for their work on the Pixar animated movie Soul, about a jazz musician who travels to an existential realm beyond the bounds of human existence, and must help a pre-born ‘soul’ to find the spark to inspire her to become human. This is the second Golden Globe for both Reznor and Ross, them having won the award for The Social Network in 2010, and the first award for Batiste. In his acceptance speech, which was conducted remotely via Zoom because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Batiste said:

“We must follow our dreams, because we only have one life to live, and one soul, and this soul is happy today to be recognized by the Hollywood Foreign Press for this masterpiece of a film. Pixar, thank you for the work, and the collaboration. Pete Docter, Dana Murray, Kent Powers, Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross, Jamie Foxx, everybody involved in creating this masterpiece that has touched people across the world, and I’d like to thank God for music and film and the togetherness that it brings when put together in such innovative and collaborative ways as this has been.”

Reznor continued by saying:

“Thanks John, and thank you Hollywood Foreign Press Association, it really means a lot. I’d just like to add Tom McDougall’s name to that list. Thanks for looking after us and shepherding us through this project. And also I think the first piece of art I’ve ever made in my life that I can actually show my kids, so thank you Pixar! Huge thanks to my wife Mariqueen, and all our kids, I love you guys more than anything.

Ross finished by saying:

“A big thank you to everyone who has already been thanked. I’d just like to add my wife Claudia, and my children, I love you. Thanks so much”

The other nominees were Alexandre Desplat for The Midnight Sky, Ludwig Göransson for Tenet, James Newton Howard for News of the World, and Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross again for Mank.

In the Best Original Song category, the winners were Niccolò Agliardi, Laura Pausini, and Diane Warren for their song “Io Sì (Seen)” from The Life Ahead, the Italian coming-of-age drama starring Sophia Loren.

The other nominees were Sam Ashworth and Leslie Odom Jr. for “Speak Now” from One Night in Miami; Andra Day and Raphael Saadiq for “Tigress & Tweed” from The United States vs. Billie Holiday; Dernst ‘D’Mile’ Emile II, Gabriella Wilson (HER), and Tiara Thomas for “Fight for You” from Judas and the Black Messiah; and Celeste Waite and Daniel Pemberton for “Hear My Voice” from The Trial of the Chicago 7.

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ONCE AROUND – James Horner

February 25, 2021 Leave a comment


Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Once Around is a romantic comedy-drama about family dynamics, cultural differences, and finding love late in life. Holly Hunter stars as Renata, the oldest daughter of a sprawling Italian-American family, and the only unmarried offspring of patriarch Joe (Danny Aiello). While on a vacation in the Caribbean Renata meets and falls in love with Sam (Richard Dreyfuss), an abrasive chain-smoking salesman of Russian heritage. Despite his best intentions Sam continually causes rifts and arguments between different members of Renata’s family – until a medical emergency causes them all to stop and think about what love actually means. The film was directed by Lasse Hallström from a screenplay by Malia Scotch Marmo, co-stars Laura San Giacomo and Gena Rowlands, and has an original score by James Horner. Read more…

TO OLIVIA – Debbie Wiseman

February 23, 2021 1 comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

It’s something of a forgotten fact these days, but for thirty years between 1953 and 1983 the great British children’s author Roald Dahl was married to the Oscar-winning American actress Patricia Neal. While they were together Dahl wrote many of his most acclaimed novels (including James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Fantastic Mr Fox, and The BFG), as well as film screenplays such as You Only Live Twice and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Meanwhile Neal simultaneously enjoyed the peak of her acting career, appearing in movies such as Breakfast at Tiffany’s, In Harm’s Way, and The Subject Was Roses, and winning an Academy Award for Hud in 1963. However, their private life was marred with tragedy, the most significant event of which was the death of their eldest daughter Olivia from measles in 1962 when aged just 7. This new film To Olivia, directed by John Hay, explores the life of the couple around that time, how the tragedy of Olivia’s death inspired them both to their greatest professional work, and how Dahl went on to become a staunch pro-immunization campaigner for the rest of his life. The film stars Hugh Bonneville as Dahl and Keeley Hawes as Neal, features Sam Heughan and Geoffrey Palmer in supporting roles, and has a sublime score by composer Debbie Wiseman. Read more…

JULIUS CAESAR – Miklós Rózsa

February 22, 2021 Leave a comment


Original Review by Craig Lysy

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studio executives were impressed by the commercial success of Henry V in 1944 and sought to adapt another of William Shakespeare’s plays for the big screen. They chose his 1599 work Julius Caesar and tasked producer John Houseman with the project with a generous budget of $2.0 million. Houseman had a vision for the film and hired Joseph Mankiewicz to direct, as the story would be dialogue driven, which was the type of film in which Mankiewicz excelled. Once attached to the project Mankiewicz made the creative decision to personally adapt the play and write the screenplay. Houseman did not want another lavish epic, but rather a small more intimate production, which explored the drama of ambition and power politics. Second, he insisted that the film be shot in black and white because “we wanted people to relate to the newsreels, to the Fascist movements in Europe, which were still relevant”. A cast for the ages was assembled, which included Marlon Brando as Marc Anthony, James Mason as Brutus, John Gielgud as Cassius, Louis Calhern as Julius Caesar, Edmund O’Brien as Casca, Greer Garson as Calpurnia, and Deborah Kerr as Portia. Read more…


February 19, 2021 Leave a comment


Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Despite having first appeared on screen in 1986 in director Michael Mann’s Manhunter, the character Hannibal Lecter exploded into public consciousness five years later with this film, The Silence of the Lambs. Based on the best-selling novel by Thomas Harris and directed by Jonathan Demme, the film follows the investigation into a serial killer dubbed ‘Buffalo Bill,’ who abducts young women and methodically strips skin from their bodies before murdering them. Rookie FBI agent Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) is tasked by Jack Crawford (Scott Glenn), the head of the Behavioral Science Unit, to visit and interview the incarcerated Lecter (Anthony Hopkins in a career-defining role); as well as being a cannibalistic serial killer himself, Lecter is also a brilliant psychologist, and it is believed his insight may help the FBI catch ‘Bill’ before he kills again. However, as well as helping build up a profile of the murderer, Lecter also convinces Clarice to provide details of her own life as part of a ‘quid pro quo’ arrangement, and the two begin an unlikely intellectual relationship that threatens to derail the investigation. Read more…

IFMCA Award Winners 2020

February 18, 2021 Leave a comment



FEBRUARY 18, 2021 — The International Film Music Critics Association (IFMCA) announces its list of winners for excellence in musical scoring in 2020, in the 2020 IFMCA Awards.

The award for Score of the Year goes to composer Christopher Willis, for his score for the Dickensian comedy “The Personal History of David Copperfield,” directed by Armando Iannucci. In describing the score, IFMCA member Florent Groult called it a “luminous neo-romantic mini symphony,” while his colleague Olivier Desbrosses called it an “inspired score that in no way seeks to hide its many nods to the great masters of classical music,” and features “sensational orchestrations and constant elegance.” Similarly, IFMCA member Jon Broxton said the score was “the music of an idealized England; the contrast between the bustling streets of London and a more languid life in the countryside, the distinct beauty of its sun-kissed fields and its rugged sea shores, the depiction of lords and ladies and gentlemen, scoundrels and thieves, high society and common folk, and the way that this most profound of literary protagonists weaves his way through it all … there is not a dull moment … there is not a moment where Willis is not taking the time to say something interesting with his music – presenting a new theme, a variation on an existing one, or painting a vivid musical picture of this specific time and place.” The score is also named Best Original Score for a Comedy Film. These are the second and third IFMCA Awards of Willis’s career, him having previously won the Comedy award in 2017 for his score for his feature debut “The Death of Stalin”. Read more…

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February 16, 2021 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

They don’t make many movies in Latvia but, when they do, they tend to be epic. Dvēseļu Putenis – known in English as Blizzard of Souls – is one of those. It is based on the acclaimed novel of the same name by Aleksandrs Grīns, one of the most acclaimed writers in contemporary Latvian culture, who was also a war hero, journalist, and staunch opponent of the Soviet occupation of Latvia, before he was executed by Soviet forces in 1941. Blizzard of Souls is his most famous work, and tells the semi-autobiographical story of a young Latvian schoolboy named Artūrs who enlists in the national battalions of the Imperial Russian army in hopes of finding glory. Artūrs participates in many battles in World War I, and eventually returns home to Latvia – only to find the homeland he loves coming under threat from the very forces he fought for. The film was directed by Dzintars Dreibergs, and upon its release quickly became the most successful domestic film since Latvian independence in 1991. Read more…


February 15, 2021 Leave a comment


Original Review by Craig Lysy

Director Franco Zeffirelli’s first film was The Taming of the Shrew in 1967, which was adapted from the original Shakespearean play. It was a commercial success, and for his next project he conceived a new adaptation of another of Shakespeare’s famous plays, “Romeo and Juliet”. A lack of funding however drove him to pursue a television production. Yet his fortunes changed when Paramount Pictures agreed to join in partnership with BHE Films, Verona Produzione and Dino de Laurentis Cinematografia to finance a big screen release. A budget of $850,000 was provided and the British team of Anthony Havelock-Allan and John Brabourne would produce the film. For the screen play Zeffirelli collaborated with Masolino d’Amico and Franco Brusati. In an audacious casting move Zeffirelli decided to cast the lead roles as minors, assuring fidelity to Shakespeare’s original conception. Leonard Whiting, a 17-year-old, was cast as Romeo, and Olivia Hussey, a 15 year old, as Juliet. Joining them would be Milo O’Shea as Friar Laurence, Michael York as Tybalt, John McEnery as Mercutio, Natasha Parry as Lady Capulet, and Robert Stephens as the Prince of Verona. Read more…


February 13, 2021 Leave a comment

In this tenth installment of my series looking at the early careers of iconic composers, we take a look at the final seven scores written by the legendary Ennio Morricone in 1970. These titles include one of the most important giallo scores of all time, a couple of quirky dramas, two spaghetti westerns (one of which stars Clint Eastwood), and a psychedelic sex comedy score that has to be heard to be believed! Read more…


February 11, 2021 Leave a comment


Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

One of the biggest box office successes of 1991, Sleeping With the Enemy is a psychological thriller directed by Joseph Rubin, written by Ronald Bass from the novel by Nancy Price. Julia Roberts stars as Laura Burney, a Massachusetts housewife whose seemingly perfect marriage to Martin (Patrick Bergin) is shown in private to be a repeating pattern of physical and emotional abuse, gaslighting, and obsessive compulsion. Desperate to escape, Laura fakes her own death in a boating accident, moves to Iowa, and starts a new life under an assumed name. Before long she finds herself attracted to a kind and handsome college professor (Kevin Anderson) and starts a tentative relationship; meanwhile, back in Boston, Martin starts to suspect that Laura is not dead, and begins to make vengeful plans to get his wife back. He can’t live without her, and I won’t let her live without him. Read more…


February 9, 2021 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

On paper, The Little Things should be a guaranteed smash hit. It’s written and directed by John Lee Hancock, the man behind Academy Award nominated films like The Blind Side and Saving Mr. Banks. It stars three Oscar-winning actors of genuine pedigree – Denzel Washington, Jared Leto, and Rami Malek – and has an excellent supporting cast of reliable character actors, as well as top-notch behind the scenes crew. The plot concerns the hunt for a serial killer in Los Angeles in the 1990s, a traumatized ageing detective called back into action, a hotshot young investigator who clashes with his superiors, and a cat and mouse chase through the darkest parts of the Southland which pits the hunter(s) against the hunted. It’s a recipe for success. So how did it end up being so terrible? How did the screenplay get so that it was both confusing and predictable at the same time? How did these three acclaimed thespians veer so wildly between somnambulance and embarrassing over-acting? How on earth did both the Golden Globe voters and the members of the Screen Actors Guild think that Leto’s off-putting performance as a dead-eyed weirdo was in any way awards worthy? These are questions to which I will likely never know the answer, but there we are. Read more…


February 8, 2021 Leave a comment


Original Review by Craig Lysy

20th Century Fox Studio executive Peter Levathes took notice of Irving Stone’s best-selling novel 1961 The Agony and the Ecstasy with almost 51 million copies sold and saw opportunity. He purchased the film rights for $125,000, yet was unable to proceed with the project as the studio suffered significant financial reversals in 1962 due to cost overruns on several films, most notable “Cleopatra”. Industry icon Daryl F. Zanuck was brought in to save the studio, and within 12 months it was again operating in the black. This allowed him to move “The Agony and the Ecstasy” into production. Carol Reed was hired to both produce and direct the film with a $7.2 million budget. A stellar cast was hired including Charlton Heston as Michelangelo, Rex Harrison as Pope Julius II, Diane Cilento as Contessina Antonia Romola de Medici, Harry Andrews as Donata Bramente and Albert Lupo as the Duke of Urbino. Read more…


February 7, 2021 Leave a comment

In this ninth installment of my series looking at the early careers of iconic composers, we take a look at half a dozen scores written by the legendary Ennio Morricone in 1970. The scores include an intense action thriller, a revenge-themed war film, a historical epic drama that sounds like a dance party, an abstract score for a crime drama, and two scores containing what many people consider to be two of his all-time greatest themes, one of which is my personal all time favorite Morricone love theme! Read more…


February 5, 2021 Leave a comment


Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Not Without My Daughter was a true-life political drama/thriller directed by Brian Gilbert, based on the autobiographical book of the same name by Betty Mahmoody and William Hoffer. Sally Field plays Betty, a typical American housewife and mother married to an Iranian doctor, Sayed Mahmoody (Alfred Molina). When Betty and Sayed travel to Iran to visit his family, Betty finds herself plunged into a nightmare when Sayed announces that they will be staying in the country; surrounded by an unfamiliar culture, and with Sayed becoming increasingly abusive and controlling, Betty makes the difficult decision to flee the country and return to the United States, and hatches a dangerous plan to smuggle herself and her daughter across the border to the US consulate in Turkey. Read more…

IFMCA Award Nominations 2020

February 4, 2021 Leave a comment



FEBRUARY 4, 2021. The International Film Music Critics Association (IFMCA) announces its list of nominees for excellence in musical scoring in 2020, for the 17th annual IFMCA Awards. British composer Daniel Pemberton and German composer Hans Zimmer lead the field with the most number of nominations, each receiving a total of five.

Pemberton’s nominations were for his work on three films: the literary adventure “Enola Holmes,” based on the popular young adult novels by Nancy Springer about the younger sister of the legendary sleuth Sherlock; the political drama “The Trial of the Chicago 7,” which looks at the real-life trial of a group of anti–Vietnam War protesters charged with inciting riots at the 1968 Democratic National Convention; and “Rising Phoenix,” an acclaimed documentary following the stories of nine Paralympic athletes. “Enola Holmes” is nominated for Score of the Year, and Pemberton is nominated for Composer of the Year. IFMCA member James Southall called Enola Holmes “a great orchestral adventure romp, whose quirks only add to its great sense of fun … conventional by recent Pemberton standards but still features a number of quirks and it feels so continually fresh and energetic … one of the year’s strongest scores”.

Zimmer’s five nominations were all for his work on one film, “Wonder Woman 1984,” the blockbuster sequel to the 2017 DC superhero film directed by Patty Jenkins, and starring Gal Gadot and Chris Pine. The score is nominated for Score of the Year and in its Fantasy/Sci-Fi/Horror genre, Zimmer is nominated for Composer of the Year, and two of Zimmer’s individual cues – “1984” and “Themyscira” – are nominated for Film Music Composition of the Year. IFMCA member Jon Broxton praised the score’s “upbeat attitude, its buoyant sense of fun and optimism, and the unashamed, un-ironic sincerity of its emotional content,” and said that “the depth and complexity of Zimmer’s thematic ideas makes the score satisfying from an intellectual point of view, meaning that the whole thing succeeds on every count.” Read more…

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