Wednesday, January 4, 2012

2011 year in review: top film scores

Music is discussed only infrequently here at Between the Seats, but I have mentioned once or twice that movie music is something I hold dear, especially with regards to film scores as opposed to soundtracks. Whereas 2010 gave movie music lovers a plethora of fantastic material to cherish in their IPods to relive the best moments of their favourite films, 2011 was slightly disappointing. A lot of 'good', very little 'great' and a lot of forgettable. Some efforts rose above the rest despite the overall lukewarm feelings I have towards 2011 in film music. They are:

5-War Horse, John Williams
A predictable choice? Without question. Then again, when a composer such as John Williams can be this predictably stellar, it has to count for something. Not as rousing as his efforts for Tintin, the War Horse score is a call back to those great swelling scores of yesteryear. Oddly enough the film per say did not wriggle much emotion out of me, but the music is beautiful.

4-Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Alberto Iglesias
Here is a strange little choice. Strange mostly because Tomas Alfredson's movie is so quiet, with plenty of scenes that omit any music choices at all. That being said, the very classy pieces sprinkled here and there set a very unique mood. One thinks for example of the jazzy piece which accompanies the opening credits, a sumptuous melody that reinforces the hustle and tussle going on at MI6

3-The Eagle, Alti Orvarisson
If one listens closely, Alti Orvarisson's calmly epic score for The Eagle is reminiscent of what Hans Zimmer did 11 years earlier on Gladiator, but with less overpowering brass. It perfectly fits the tone and pace of Macdonald's film, which, while sprawling in some ways, is actually very character driven and emotional.

2-Thor, Patrick Doyle
Arguably the really unexpected choice in the bunch. Doyle's melodic score brings the world of Thor to life in all its scale, its adventurous nature and its Norse flavouring. The main main is both rousing and touching, playing on that dichotomy opposing Thor's brash and brave behaviour with the Shakespearean emotional journey he embarks on. Wonderful music overall.

1-Hanna, The Chemical Brothers
Not the sort of score I would normally place in the number 1 spot of an end of the year list. I like my music symphonic as opposed to synthetic or electronic, but I also know what I like when I hear it, and there is little denying how cool and à propos the music for Hanna is, courtesy of The Chemical Brothers. The entire tone of that film is so bizarre when compared to what we are normally served by Hollywood when it comes to big action movies, so why would the score have been conventional in any way? Bravo, Brothers, bravo.

Honourable mentions:
Drive, Cliff Martinez
Great rhythmic beats that 'drive' the beast within Gosling's character.

Super 8 , Michael Giacchino
The man never does anything wrong! Here he flexes his muscles with a score that is both nostalgic and speaks to the innocence of the young teenage characters.

Contagion, Cliff Martinez
More toned down than what Martinez did for Drive, but still in the same vein and no less effective.

Source Code, Chris P. Bacon
Very similar to the score of an Alfred Hitchcock film. Lots of fun.


Tom said...

My vote goes to Hugo.

Anonymous said...

Hanna, definitely Hanna. But I also remember being pretty taken by the score in Incendies. And Tree of Life of course. Some gorgeous classical music there.
Honorable mentioning to Submarine. Some great music there as far as I recall.

edgarchaput said...

@Tom: I must admit, I don't remember much of the music from Hugo. I guess it simply did not strike me as anything special at the time. Perhaps on a re-watch.

@velvelcafe: Hanna felt like the clear number 1 choice this year. Incendies didn't have much of a score if memory serves me. Wasn't it mostly progressive rock?
Oops, I forgot about Tree of Life.

Chris said...

I haven't see to many of these, but I agree about Drive, and I would also include "The Skin I Live In", such a beautiful score, the cover of Between The Bars is my favourite track on the soundtrack.

Anonymous said...

Hey Guys,

On January 12th, 2012 we’re hosting a live Q & A with Angelina Jolie to promote her film In the Land of Blood and Honey, her written and directorial debut. If you were interested in hosting the Live Broadcast of the Q & A on your website, as well as, getting some awesome In the Land of Blood and Honey swag, please feel free to email me and we can get you all set up! Don’t hesitate to come to me with any questions you may have about the event and I look forward to hearing back from you! Have a great day!

Partner’s Hub Engagement Team

edgarchaput said...

@moviesandsongs: 'Drive' came very close to being included in my top 5 list. Honestly, I don't remember much about the music from 'The Skin I Live In', sorry. I enjoyed the film, but the music didn't hit me in any way.

@John: I flattered by the invite, although I'm sure there are plenty of other web sites and blogs more suited to host such an event. It sounds promising though!