Movie Music UK Awards 2009


  • PHILIPPE ROMBI for Un Homme et Son Chien
  • MARCEL BARSOTTI for Pope Joan
  • JAMES PETERSON for The Red Canvas
  • CHRISTOPHER YOUNG for Drag Me to Hell

For the second time in three years the MMUK Score of the Year Award goes to France: PHILIPPE ROMBI, the composer of UN HOMME ET SON CHIEN, wrote one of the most beautiful scores in recent memory for a simple tale of an old man’s reflections on his life; his delicate orchestrations, multiplicity of themes, and general air of thoughtful romance made the biggest impression on me in 2009. Running it a close second is CHRISTOPHER YOUNG’s horror magnum opus DRAG ME TO HELL, a masterpiece of Gothic beauty and savage dissonance that proves that the horror genre continues to be a breeding ground for the most extravagant, challenging and creative film music being written today. After that, it got difficult, and initially – in a break from tradition, and with an acknowledgement to AMPAS and the fact that they had done the same thing – I had decided to increase my Score of the Year nominee field to ten.

With DARIO MARIANELLI’s dramatic AGORA, CHRISTOPHER GORDON’S gorgeous MAO’S LAST DANCER, ALEXANDRE DESPLAT’s sumptuous NEW MOON, MARCEL BARSOTTI’s lush POPE JOAN, JAMES PETERSON’s staggering THE RED CANVAS and DOUGLAS PIPES’s devilish TRICK ‘R TREAT all snagging a 4½ star rating, and with several other scores worthy of contention (and which would easily have made a Top 5 list in other, weaker years), it was incredibly difficult to narrow the field down to the traditional five. However, difficult decisions sometimes have to be made, and after some severe soul-searching and gnashing of teeth, I finally bit the bullet and reluctantly cut NEW MOON, MAO’S LAST DANCER, JAMES HORNER’s AVATAR, TRICK ‘R TREAT and DEBBIE WISEMAN’s LESBIAN VAMPIRE KILLERS from my final quintet.




I’m probably going to get a lot of criticism for giving ALEXANDRE DESPLAT my Composer of the Year award for the second time in three years, especially when none of his scores made my overall Top 5 this year, but when you look at it logically, no-one has been written such varied and consistently high quality music as the Frenchman this year: from NEW MOON to FANTASTIC MR. FOX, CHERI and COCO AVANT CHANEL, to UN PROPHÈTE, AFTERWARDS and L’ARMÉE DU CRIME, the astonishing manner that he can write score after score after score and have them all be so excellent is astonishing. PHILIPPE ROMBI and CHRISTOPHER YOUNG both get nods, not only for their work on UNE HOMME ET SON CHIEN and DRAG ME TO HELL, but also for showing creativity and variety on a number of other good score, including Rombi’s RICKY and Young’s THE UNINVITED. BRIAN TYLER has been as busy as Desplat and, while none of his scores really stood out from 2009’s crowded field, the fact that he was able to write scores as varied and challenging as THE KILLING ROOM and DRAGONBALL EVOLUTION in the year is testament to his talent. And finally there’s MICHAEL GIACCHINO, who continues to cement his reputation as one of film and television’s brightest stars by writing excellent scores for the new STAR TREK movie and the Pixar family classic UP, while still finding time to contribute to a little TV called LOST. Excellent.

Other composers who enjoyed a generally strong year in 2009 and are worthy of recognition include: MARCEL BARSOTTI, CARTER BURWELL, BRUNO COULAIS, JOHN DEBNEY, DANNY ELFMAN, ROLFE KENT, DARIO MARIANELLI, and newcomers JAMES PETERSON and ABEL KORZENIOWSKI.




No composer made a bigger splash in 2009 than young American maestro JAMES PETERSON, whose debut score for the action drama THE RED CANVAS mixed golden age lyricism with a powerful dramatic sense, culminating in the awe-inspiring “Ballet for Brawlers”, one of the most impressive single cues in several years. Running Peterson a close second is Polish composer ABEL KORZENIOWSKI, whose work on the animated action movie BATTLE FOR TERRA and the critically acclaimed drama A SINGLE MAN earmarks him as composer to watch. Canadian composer CLINTON SHORTER contributed immensely to the success of the South African sci-fi DISTRICT 9 through a combination of ethnic vocals and modern action music. New Zealand-based composer VICTORIA KELLY proved that it’s not only American and British women who are making names for themselves, with her dark, powerful score for the fantasy epic UNDER THE MOUNTAIN; and Spanish composer ZACARÍAS M. DE LA RIVA impressed mightily with his first mainstream international score for the horror film IMAGO MORTIS.

Special mention should also go to MARK BRADSHAW for Bright Star, MICHL BRITSCH for Pandorum, JULIE DELPY for The Countess, BORIS ELKIS for A Perfect Getaway, EVAN EVANS for The Poker Club, HENRY JACKMAN for Monsters vs. Aliens, and BEN MINK for Fifty Dead Men Walking and Alice, all of whom made memorable debuts in 2009.



  • RYAN LEVINE for “Through the Trees” from Jennifer’s Body
  • ILAN ESHKERI, SCOTT SHIELDS, NIKKI HASSMAN and PAM SHEYNE for “Only You” from The Young Victoria
  • JOE HISAISHI and KUNDO KOYAMA for “Stand Alone” from Saka No Ue No Kumo [A Cloud on the Slope]
  • ALAIN JOHANNES and NATASHA SHNEIDER for “Time for Miracles” from 2012
  • MAURY YESTON for “Cinema Italiano” from Nine

The number and quality of original songs in movies varies greatly from year to year, and you never know what each calendar’s crop is going to be like; from full-on musicals to rock one-offs, songs are also highly dependant on the taste of the listener. This is why many might be surprised that my favorite song of 2009 is the indie-rock ballad “Through the Trees” from the Megan Fox comedy horror JENNIFER’S BODY. The song, which was written by RYAN LEVINE and is performed on-screen by the fictional rock band Low Shoulder, is just my style, has a strong musical core, interesting lyrics, and great hook. The other songs vary wildly from style to style, and from genre to genre: MAURY YESTON’s “Cinema Italiano” from the screen musical NINE is a hip-shaking salsa-inspired celebration of the genre performed powerfully by Kate Hudson; “Only You” from THE YOUNG VICTORIA was written by ILAN ESHKERI, SCOTT SHIELDS, NIKKI HASSMAN and PAM SHEYNE, and is a delicate, gossamer love song for Irish vocalist Sinead O’Connor; “Stand Alone” from A CLOUD ON THE SLOPE is a gorgeous ballad penned by JOE HISAISHI and KUNDO KOYAMA and sung operatically in Japanese by Sarah Brightman; while “Time for Miracles” is a big-throated rock ballad sung by American Idol runner up Adam Lambert, and is probably the best thing to emerge from the soundtrack of the otherwise-dismal end of the world action movie 2012.

Special mention should also go to T-BONE BURNETT and RYAN BINGHAM for “The Weary Kind” from Crazy Heart, BILLY RAY CYRUS, TAMARA DUNN and MATTHEW WILDER for “Back to Tennessee” from Hannah Montana: The Movie, MILEY CYRUS, JOHN SHANKS and HILLARY LINDSEY for “Don’t Walk Away” from Hannah Montana: The Movie, AIMÉE DUFFY and BERNARD BUTLER for “Smoke Without Fire” from An Education, KYLE EASTWOOD, MICHAEL STEVENS and WILLIAM ERNEST HENLEY for “9,000 Days” from Invictus, MATTHEW GERRARD, JAY LANDERS AND CHARLIE MIDNIGHT for “Raining Sunshine” from Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, SHANA HALLIGAN AND KIRAN SHAHANI for “Being Bad” from Duplicity, MARVIN HAMLISCH, ALAN BERGMAN and MARILYN BERGMAN for “Trust Me” from The Informant!, PAUL HEWSON, DAVID EVANS, LARRY MULLEN and ADAM CLAYTON for “Winter” from Brothers, JAMES HORNER, SIMON FRANGLEN and KUK HARRELL for “I See You” from Avatar, CHRISTOPHER LENNERTZ and TEITUR LASSEN for “So Many Things To Tell You” from Adam, ELENI MANDELL for “Forget Me” from I Love You, Beth Cooper, PAUL McCARTNEY for “I Want to Come Home” from Everybody’s Fine, RANDY NEWMAN for “Almost There”, “Dig a Little Deeper”, “Down in New Orleans”, “Friends on the Other Side” and “Ma Belle Evangeline” from The Princess and the Frog, JOHN ONDRASIK for “Brothers in Arms” from Brothers at War, KAREN ORZOLEK for “All Is Love” and “Hideaway” from Where the Wild Things Are, A.R. RAHMAN, LAKSHMI RAGAN and VIVIAN CHAIX for “Na Na” from Couples Retreat, A.R. RAHMAN and LAKSMI RAMAN for “Sajna” from Couples Retreat, BETH ROWLEY for “You Got Me Wrapped Around Your Little Finger” from An Education, JACK SAVORETTI for “One Day” from Post Grad, ALAN SILVESTRI and GLEN BALLARD for “God Bless Us Everyone” from A Christmas Carol, ALAN SILVESTRI and GLEN BALLARD for “Butterfly Fly Away” from Hannah Montana: The Movie, TAYLOR SWIFT and MARTIN JOHNSON for “You’ll Always Find Your Way Back Home” from Hannah Montana: The Movie, and LI ZACHRISSON for “Possibility” from New Moon.



  • LUKAS KENDALL (producer) for James Horner’s Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
  • DOUGLASS FAKE (producer) for Lee Holdridge’s In Search of Peace
  • DOUGLASS FAKE (producer) for Alan Silvestri’s Back to the Future
  • JAMES FITZPATRICK (producer) for Ernest Gold’s Exodus, cond. Nic Raine
  • M.V. GERHARD and MICHAEL MATESSINO (producers) for Jerry Goldsmith’s Innerspace

Just when you thought the market for re-recordings and re-releases couldn’t get any better, 2009 came along and released a multitude of gems for collectors and fans to enjoy. For a Horner fan, the Holy Grail in 2009 was Film Score Monthly’s expanded release of STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN, with superb packaging expansive liner notes, and sound quality which finally showcases the brilliance of Horner’s outstanding nautical space adventure score. Lee Holdridge’s IN SEARCH OF PEACE was a sprawling documentary about the Israel-Palestine conflict, and was treated to a lavish 2-CD presentation which finally brought one of the composer’s most beautiful scores to the soundtrack buying public. Two more holy grails from 2009 were Alan Silvestri’s classic BACK TO THE FUTURE and Jerry Goldsmith’s INNER SPACE, both finally released in a legitimate format, with alternate takes of Silvestri’s rejected first score for the film for good measure. Finally, continuing their excellent series of re-recording of classic scores, one cannot help but marvel at the work by producer James Fitzpatrick and conductor Nic Raine in re-contstructing and re-recording Ernest Gold’s classic Oscar-winning effort EXODUS.

Special mention should also go to La-La Land’s release of AIRPLANE! by Elmer Bernstein, Intrada’s expanded re-release of THE BLACK STALLION RETURNS by Georges Delerue, Intrada’s release of the rejected score for THE CHINA SYNDROME by Micheal Small, La-La Land’s release of THE DUNWICH HORROR by Les Baxter, Varèse Sarabande’s release of FREUD, music by Jerry Goldsmith, La-La Land’s expanded release of THE FUGITIVE by James Newton Howard, Intrada’s expanded re-release of GOLD, music by Elmer Bernstein, Varèse Sarabande’s release of HANOVER STREET by John Barry, La-La Land’s release of Jerry Goldsmiths I.Q and SECONDS, Varèse Sarabande’s release of LONELY ARE THE BRAVE by Jerry Goldsmith, Intrada’s expanded re-release of ONE LITTLE INDIAN by Jerry Goldsmith, Varèse Sarabande’s release of REVOLUTION by John Corigliano, Intrada’s landmark release of four previously unreleased James Horner scores: EXTREME CLOSE-UP, HONEY, I SHRUNK THE KIDS, HOUSE OF CARDS, THE JOURNEY OF NATTY GANN and SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES, and the re-recording of the classic scores THE CHARGE OF THE LIGHT BRIGADE, FAHRENHEIT 451 and THE PRINCE AND THE PAUPER by conductor Bill Stromberg of Tribute Film Classics.



  • LARRY GROUPÉ for Excelsius

If Excelsius had been a film score, it would unquestionably have been one of the scores of the year. As it is, it’s a sort-of score, which combines music Groupé wrote for a series of TV documentaries about the life and work of German missionary Reinhard Bonnke, with new material written especially for this album. I was fortunate enough to be at the recording sessions for the original Missions score in London in 2002, and both the old and new pieces are simply staggering. Written for a full orchestra, full choir and epic electronics, the album absolutely soars from start to finish with glorious themes, massive choral crescendos, driving rhythms and huge orchestral performances that occasionally rise to the scale and scope of Howard Shore’s LORD OF THE RINGS scores. How I wish someone would give Groupé the opportunity to write something as amazing as this for a film, and for his immense talent to be heard by a wider audience; hopefully, Excelsius will be the catalyst for this in the future.



Hereafter, presented without additional comment, are my choices for the best scores in each of the genre categories:



  • PHILIPPE ROMBI for Un Homme et Son Chien
  • MARCEL BARSOTTI for Pope Joan
  • CHRISTOPHER GORDON for Mao’s Last Dancer
  • ABEL KORZENIOWSKI for A Single Man

Special mentions should also go to MYCHAEL DANNA for Adoration and The Time Traveler’s Wife, JOHN DEBNEY for The Stoning of Soraya M., ALEXANDRE DESPLAT for Afterwards, Cheri and Coco Avant Chanel, BRIAN ENO for The Lovely Bones, ILAN ESHKERI for The Young Victoria, ELLIOT GOLDENTHAL for Public Enemies, ALBERTO IGLESIAS for Broken Embraces, JAN A.P. KACZMAREK for Hachiko: A Dog’s Story, , ENNIO MORRICONE for Baarìa, JAVIER NAVARRETE for Cracks, PHILIPPE ROMBI for Ricky, JOHAN SÖDERQVIST for Effi Briest, GABRIEL YARED for Amelia and Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky, CHRISTOPHER YOUNG for Creation, MARCELO ZARVOS for Sin Nombre and HANS ZIMMER for Angels & Demons.



  • DEBBIE WISEMAN for Lesbian Vampire Killers
  • ALEXANDRE DESPLAT for Julie & Julia
  • JEFF GRACE for I Sell the Dead
  • MARVIN HAMLISCH for The Informant!
  • A.R. RAHMAN for Couples Retreat

Special mentions should also go to KLAUS BADELT for Le Petit Nicolas, JOHN DEBNEY for Hotel for Dogs, JAMES NEWTON HOWARD for Duplicity, ROLFE KENT for 17 Again, ERWANN KERMORVANT for La Premiere Ètoile, THEODORE SHAPIRO for Year One, RYAN SHORE for Stan Helsing, and GABRIEL YARED for Le Hèrisson.



  • BRUNO COULAIS for Coraline
  • ABEL KORZENIOWSKI for Battle for Terra
  • ABEL KORZENIOWSKI for Copernicus’ Star
  • ALAN SILVESTRI for A Christmas Carol

Special mentions should also go to BRUNO COULAIS for The Secret of Kells, ALEXANDRE DESPLAT for Fantastic Mr. Fox, CHRISTOPHE HÉRAL for Eleanor’s Secret, HENRY JACKMAN for Monsters vs. Aliens, DEBORAH LURIE for 9, MARK MOTHERSBAUGH for Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, RANDY NEWMAN for The Princess and the Frog, JOHN OTTMAN for Astro Boy, JOHN POWELL for Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, and FLORIAN TESSLOFF for Jasper: Journey to the End of the World.



  • JAMES PETERSON for The Red Canvas
  • BRUNO COULAIS for Lucky Luke
  • RYAN SHORE for Shadows
  • BRIAN TYLER for The Killing Room
  • HANS ZIMMER for Sherlock Holmes

Special mentions should also go to TROND BJERKNES for Max Manus, BILL BROWN for The Devil’s Tomb, ALEXANDRE DESPLAT for Un Prophète, JIM DOOLEY for Obsessed, BORIS ELKIS for A Perfect Getaway, STEPHEN ENDELMAN for Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li, EVAN EVANS for The Poker Club, GUY FARLEY for Knife Edge, JOHN FRIZZELL for Whiteout, MARK ISHAM for Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, VICTORIA KELLY for Under the Mountain, TREVOR RABIN for Race to Witch Mountain, JOHAN SÖDERQVIST for Tannöd, BRIAN TYLER for Dragonball Evolution and Fast & Furious, and BENJAMIN WALLFISCH for The Escapist.



  • CHRISTOPHER YOUNG for Drag Me to Hell
  • MYCHAEL DANNA and JEFF DANNA for The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus
  • JAMES HORNER for Avatar
  • DOUGLAS PIPES for Trick ‘r Treat

Special mention should also go to MARCO BELTRAMI for Knowing, NICK CAVE and WARREN ELLIS for The Road, ALFONS CONDE for No-Do, ZACARIAS M. DE LA RIVA for Imago Mortis, DANNY ELFMAN for Terminator Salvation, MICHAEL GIACCHINO for Star Trek, JEFF GRACE for The House of the Devil, NICHOLAS HOOPER for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, JOHN MURPHY for The Last House on the Left, CLINTON SHORTER for District 9, JOBY TALBOT for Franklyn, BRIAN TYLER for The Final Destination, GAST WALTZING for Humains, MICHAEL WANDMACHER for My Bloody Valentine, and CHRISTOPHER YOUNG for The Uninvited.



  • ARMAND AMAR for Home
  • JANE ANTONIA CORNISH for Every Little Step
  • MICKY ERBE and MARIBETH SOLOMON for Under the Sea 3D
  • MICHAEL GIACCHINO for Earth Days
  • LEE HOLDRIDGE for Brothers at War

Special mention should also go to MARK ADLER for Food Inc., JEFF GIBBS for Capitalism: A Love Story, JOEL GOODMAN for Valentino: The Last Emperor, JOSHUA RALPH for The Cove, and FERNANDO VELÁZQUEZ for Garbo: El Espía.



  • JOE HISAISHI for Saka No Ue No Kumo [A Cloud on the Slope]
  • JEFF BEAL for Georgia O’Keeffe
  • ED BUTT for Yellowstone
  • GEORGE FENTON for Life
  • SAMUEL SIM for Emma

Special mention should also go to NATHAN BARR for True Blood, JEFF BEAL for A Dog Named Christmas, MARCO BELTRAMI and NORMAND CORBEL for V, GUY FARLEY for Clive Barker’s Book of Blood, DARREN FUNG for Beyond Sherwood, MICHAEL GIACCHINO for Lost, MURRAY GOLD for Doctor Who, JOEL GOLDSMITH for Stargate Universe, HOWARD GOODALL for Into the Storm, RUPERT GREGSON-WILLIAMS for The Prisoner, DAN JONES for Charles Darwin and the Tree of Life, JAN A.P. KACZMAREK for The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler, JOSEPH LO DUCA for Legend of the Seeker, BEAR McCREARY for Battlestar Galactica and Caprica, BEN MINK for Alice, TREVOR MORRIS for The Tudors, BLAKE NEELY for Eastwick, DANIEL PEMBERTON for Occupation, MARTIN PHIPPS for Small Island, RACHEL PORTMAN for Grey Gardens, ANDY PRICE for Robin Hood, CHRIS TILTON for Fringe, LUCAS VIDAL for Thor: Hammer of the Gods, BENJAMIN WALLFISCH for Breaking the Mould, DEBBIE WISEMAN for Land Girls, and MARCELO ZARVOS for Taking Chance.



  • INON ZUR for Dragon Age: Origins
  • BILL BROWN for Wolfenstein
  • JAMES HANNIGAN for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
  • JEREMY SOULE for Order of War
  • CHRIS TILTON for Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian

Special mention should also go to LORNE BALFE and HANS ZIMMER for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, GORDY HAAB and RAY HARMAN for Indiana Jones and the Staff of Kings, STEVE JABLONSKY for The Sims 3, JESPER KYD for Assassin’s Creed II, GHIORGITA LORGA for Rabbids Go Home, WINIFRED PHILLIPS for Spore Hero, and CHANCE THOMAS for Avatar.



  • ROBERT BRUNNER, 5 January
  • ANGELA MORLEY, 14 January
  • MAURICE JARRE, 29 March
  • WILLY DE VILLE, 6 August
  • ERICH KUNZEL, 1 September
  • MICHAEL GALASSO, 9 September
  • VIC MIZZY, 17 October
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