Musings About Music In Film

Films On Wax Oscar Fever


By Karol Krok oscar-statues-1264515721-article-2

It's this time of the year when everyone starts to get obsessed with Oscars. For whatever reason people seem to think these statuettes are really important and serve as a validation of one's work and effort. Whether that's true or not... it remains up to a debate. In any case, it is only appropriate that Films On Wax joins this hysteria and presents the nominations in "best score" category. The selections themselves are rather conservative but nevertheless strong picks. Quite frankly, it is quite difficult to choose the strongest candidate.

In any case, here is our brief overview:

The Grand Budapest Hotel by Alexandre Desplat (read our review here)

This score is one of the most unique released last year and attached to a beloved film. It's composer's second nomination for Wes Anderson's title (the previous one being Fantastic Mr. Fox). Just as this cinematic tale literally explodes with creativity on-screen, so does the eclectic and wild imagination of Alexandre Desplat. He creates a truly unique mix of pan-European folklore and serves as a steady heartbeat for this quirky story. Out of his composition to 2014, this is definitely the most visible and showy. And, as such, might be getting some recognition.

The Imitation Game by Alexandre Desplat (read our review here)

The second nominated score from tireless Frenchman was attached to another critically acclaimed film from Morten Tyldum. There's plenty to enjoy in it, of course. From the perpetual movement of piano/keyboard theme, to the expertly executed suspense. For a two week rush jobs, The Imitation Game manages to impress. However, one can't help but think the resulting nomination is an extension of other nods to this picture, rather than a praise for score itself.  And it might actually hurt composer's chances to win at all.

Mr. Turner by Gary Yershon (read our reviews here and here)

This one is definitely the longshot of the entire group. And this year's odd pick. But that's all good. These type of scores at least serve as a reminder that film music is not all about big orchestras and grand gestures. There is also an entire world more experimental and personal music that should be noticed as well. Yershon has a background in providing music for theatre plays and his restrained but refreshingly executed small score for small ensemble is a breath of fresh air (right next to two similarly small-scaled works from Howard Shore). On top of that, his approach certainly serves Mr. Turner's period setting very well without resorting to musical clichés.

Interstellar by Hans Zimmer (read our review here)

While general trends in many bigger scores in the past decade might have created somewhat of a negativity towards Hans and his team, he nevertheless tried to leave his competitors far behind last year with two creative attempts at blockbuster scoring. The first one was The Amazing Spider-Man 2, a failed but admirable effort at incorporating different styles of music in order to conjure the image of youthful superhero. On the other side of this pond, Interstellar did what even Ennio Morricone failed at... which is bringing organ to s-f setting! Seriously, though, the score is both majestic and intimate, detailed and simple. Just as the story it accompanies. After a decade of ostinato-driven Batman music, Hans finally made a gigantic leap in his career and created a score that gave heart to a Christopher Nolan's film, instead of just pumping adrenaline. And we love him for it!

The Theory of Everything by Jóhann Jóhannsson (read our review here)

The last nominee this year already managed to snatch a Golden Globe already. It's a fairly conventional and predictable accompaniment for a biographical drama. The kind of score both Abel Korzeniowski and Alexandre Desplat write on a daily basis and never win for. Despite this cynical viewpoint, there's absolutely nothing wrong with Jóhannsson's approach for this film. It's beautifully crafted and classy, serving both the human story and alluding to the grander things its subject, Stephen Hawking, aimed to achieve in his life. A respectable effort all around, if not entirely remarkable.

The 87th Academy Awards ceremony is scheduled to take place on February 22, 2015.