Thursday, February 12, 2015

Music: Original Score

It pained me to be so hard on Alexandre Desplat for last year's lackluster Philomena, so I'm truly happy to see him with two very nice soundtracks this year. Mica Levi, however, with Under the Skin had my favorite soundtrack from last year. I'm guessing the film's early appearance at the Telluride Film Festival would have precluded it from this awards season even if anyone else would have voted for it. If I can't just spend all day talking about how good it is to "eat men like air," then let's take a listen to this year's nominees.
    Music: Original Score
  • Alexandre Desplat for The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Alexandre Desplat for The Imitation Game
  • Hans Zimmer for Interstellar
  • Gary Yershon for Mr. Turner
  • Jóhann Jóhannsson for The Theory of Everything

I may have fallen in love with Desplat as he talked about his work on a mouth harp for The Fantastic Mr. Fox (another Anderson film), and so it seems fitting just how charmingly I feel about his work on The Grand Budapest Hotel. His character themes are, as usual, outstanding from the airy "Overture: M. Gustave H" to the curious "J.G. Jopling, Private Inquiry Agent." Working with Anderson allows Desplat very precise characters, and he is at his best with the playfulness of a film like this.

You'd be forgiven if you heard bits of The Grand Budapest Hotel in The Imitation Game. While very different films tonally, Desplat can't help but bleeding through each. With both films surrounding real(ish) stories in the same time frame, you might think that "Crosswords" is simply a more serious take on part of the previous soundtrack. In a film with as many strong performances as this, it's notable much of the tension comes from tracks like "The Machine Christopher."

It's amazing in a way that Hans Zimmer hasn't won an Oscar since The Lion King. He's crafted for Interstellar a soundtrack that is often slow in building momentum yet peaks into songs like "Cornfield Chase" which  I could live inside of. Zimmer orchestrates beautifully these exceedingly emotional times, but it's in the inbetween that he feels muddled. This soundtrack is all peaks and valleys to me. The mountaintops are amazing, but sometimes they're a long journey.

With "Mr. Turner" Gary Yershon has created a mostly slow and haunting arrangement for a rather slow and plodding film. The strings are beautiful but all too often they sound the same. Without variegation, the emotive ghosts of notes never have the impact that they should. The film lacks in narrative tension, and it would have been really nice to see that made up here.

Having recently worked on such narratively dark films as Prisoners and Foxcatcher it's nice to see Jóhann Jóhannsson working on something with a more redemptive arc. Jóhannsson does a mesmerizing job conveying the emotional complexities of the film in music from "A Game of Croquet" just after Steven's diagnosis to when Jane and her secondary love interest take her children "Camping." The score always has some lingering, somber notes to remind us that this is indeed not "A Normal Family," but they're always paired with an endurance that has imbued the Hawkings' stories.

Jóhann Jóhannsson has one of the best soundtracks of the year, probably tied for my second favorite of this category. Unfortunately for him, Alexandre Desplat had two chances here and they're both as good or better than anything else. I have to give it to him for The Grand Budapest Hotel. I'm honestly really unsure what will take home the statuette, though because those three scores are all superb. I think Desplat finally gets his award, and I think it will be for The Grand Budapest Hotel. That said, I'm exceedingly foggy on this one.

Will win: The Grand Budapest Hotel
Should win: The Grand Budapest Hotel

No comments:

Post a Comment