Sunday, December 14, 2014

A Look at the 114 Candidates for the Best Original Score Category

Matthew McConaughey in Interstellar
With the recent announcement of the Best Original Song shortlist, there is also room for the Best Original Score category to be explored as well. Between these two, there is a lot of unpredictable results that could happen (see: Thomas Newman's back-to-back nominations for Skyfall and Saving Mr. Banks). This year is no exception, as there is one particular name that is missing from this list that you'll likely be mad about. Follow after the jump to see what made the cut and a few thoughts on what I feel will be sticking around for the final five.

Below is the shortlist. The composer's name follows:

American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs - Vivek Maddala
Anita - Lili Haydn
Annabelle - Joseph Bishara
At Middleton - Arturo Sandoval
Atlas Shrugged: Who Is John Galt? - Elia Cmiral
Bears - George Fenton
Belle - Rachel Portman
Big Eyes - Danny Elfman
Big Hero 6 - Henry Jackman
The Book of Life - Gustavo Santaolalla and Tim Davies
The Boxtrolls - Dario Marianelli
Brick Mansions - Trevor Morris
Cake - Christophe Beck
Calvary - Patrick Cassidy
Captain America: The Winter Soldier - Henry Jackman
The Case against 8 - Blake Neely
Cheatin’ - Nicole Renaud
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes - Michael Giacchino
The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them - Son Lux
Divergent - Tom Holkenborg
Dolphin Tale 2 - Rachel Portman
Dracula Untold - Ramin Djawadi
Draft Day - John Debney
The Drop - Marco Beltrami and Buck Sanders
Earth to Echo - Joseph Trapanese
Edge of Tomorrow - Christophe Beck
Endless Love - Christophe Beck and Jake Monaco
The Equalizer - Harry Gregson-Williams
Exodus: Gods and Kings - Alberto Iglesias
The Fault in Our Stars - Mike Mogis
Finding Vivian Maier - J. Ralph
Fury - Steven Price
Garnet’s Gold - J. Ralph
Girl on a Bicycle - Craig Richey
The Giver - Marco Beltrami
Godzilla - Alexandre Desplat
Gone Girl - Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross
The Good Lie - Martin Léon
The Grand Budapest Hotel - Alexandre Desplat
The Great Flood - Bill Frisell
Hercules - Fernando Velázquez
The Hero of Color City - Zoë Poledouris-Roché and Angel Roché Jr.
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies - Howard Shore
The Homesman - Marco Beltrami
Horrible Bosses 2 - Christopher Lennertz
How to Train Your Dragon 2 - John Powell
The Hundred-Foot Journey - A.R. Rahman
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1 - James Newton Howard
I Origins - Will Bates and Phil Mossman,
The Imitation Game - Alexandre Desplat
Inherent Vice - Jonny Greenwood
Interstellar - Hans Zimmer
The Interview - Henry Jackman
Into the Storm - Brian Tyler
Jal - Sonu Nigam and Bickram Ghosh
The Judge - Thomas Newman
Kill the Messenger - Nathan Johnson
Kochadaiiyaan - A.R. Rahman
Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return - Toby Chu
The Lego Movie - Mark Mothersbaugh
The Liberator - Gustavo Dudamel
Life Itself - Joshua Abrams
Living Is Easy With Eyes Closed - Pat Metheny
Lucy - Eric Serra
Maleficent - James Newton Howard
The Maze Runner - John Paesano
Merchants of Doubt - Mark Adler
Million Dollar Arm - A.R. Rahman
A Million Ways to Die in the West - Joel McNeely
Mr. Peabody & Sherman - Danny Elfman
Mr. Turner - Gary Yershon
The Monuments Men - Alexandre Desplat
A Most Violent Year - Alex Ebert
My Old Lady - Mark Orton
Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb - Alan Silvestri
Nightcrawler - James Newton Howard
No God, No Master - Nuno Malo
Noah - Clint Mansell
Non-Stop - John Ottman
The One I Love - Danny Bensi and Saunder Jurriaans
Ouija - Anton Sanko
Paddington - Nick Urata
Penguins of Madagascar - Lorne Balfe
Pompeii - Clinton Shorter
The Purge: Anarchy - Nathan Whitehead
The Railway Man - David Hirschfelder
Red Army - Christophe Beck and Leo Birenberg
Ride Along - Christopher Lennertz
Rocks in My Pockets - Kristian Sensini
Rosewater - Howard Shore
St. Vincent - Theodore Shapiro
The Salt of the Earth - Laurent Petitgand
Selma - Jason Moran
The Signal - Nima Fakhrara
Snowpiercer - Marco Beltrami
Song of the Sea - Bruno Coulais
Still Alice - Ilan Eshkeri
The Tale of the Princess Kaguya - Joe Hisaishi
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - Brian Tyler
That Awkward Moment - David Torn
The Theory of Everything - Jóhann Jóhannsson
This Is Where I Leave You - Michael Giacchino
300: Rise of an Empire - Tom Holkenborg
Tracks - Garth Stevenson
Transformers: Age of Extinction - Steve Jablonsky
22 Jump Street - Mark Mothersbaugh
Unbroken - Alexandre Desplat
Under the Skin - Mica Levi
Virunga - Patrick Jonsson
Visitors - Philip Glass
A Walk among the Tombstones - Carlos Rafael Rivera
Walking With the Enemy - Timothy Williams
Wild Tales - Gustavo Santaolalla
X-Men: Days of Future Past - John Ottman

For those who are attentive, there is one immediate question that rises. It is one that was recently discussed, as it received a Best Original Score nomination at the Golden Globes. You're likely wondering where Antonio Sanchez's score for Birdman is. While I don't care for it, I am aware that it was going to be a strong contender for the race going ahead. However, much like in the past, it was disqualified for the dumbest of reasons. The percussion-heavy score used previously existing music that Sanchez had. This is a baffling note considering that Thomas Newman has been nominated twice for films that incorporate even more familiar pre-existing music. I don't think that Sanchez deserves this, as it should get points for trying to make an entirely percussive score.

Then there's the actual scores that will likely make the cut. The Theory of Everything, Interstellar, The Imitation Game and Gone Girl. Of those, I think that Interstellar is likely the front runner because of how phenomenally intricate and atmospheric it is while serving as Hans Zimmer's best score in years. Alexandre Desplat's The Imitation Game is an amazing soundtrack of layers and rhythm that will be a shame to be ignored. I don't care as much for Gone Girl, though with Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross' past, they are likely to get in because their unassuming score is a hat trick of sorts holding a nuanced terror under the blandness. 

Then there's the other scores that I think are worth checking out. Desplat is especially welcomed on this list and could easily fill up three of the slots on this year's nomination sheet. Besides The Imitation Game, he created the beautiful, kitschy The Grand Budapest Hotel (my favorite score of the year) score. That film has one of the most distinct and enjoyable tones of the year. Godzilla is an above average score that captures nuanced bombast with interesting orchestrations. The Monuments Men is a fine sampling of Americana war tunes. I am really looking forward to Unbroken, if just to see if he can possibly make five great scores in one year. These are all worth checking out, as he is my favorite composer of 2014.

As evident by my love of The Master, I am eagerly looking forward to Inherent Vice to see what Jonny Greenwood will bring to the score. I don't entirely know what to expect, but I assume that it will be a very noirish sound mixed with some crazy, creaky rhythms. Same can be said for Big Eyes. While I haven't cared for Danny Elfman in years, I am curious to see if the music is any good, also I just want to hear those Lana Del Rey songs in context. A Most Violent Year has potential to be an atmospherically interesting in ways that Alex Ebert's last film All is Lost was.

I could go on about all of the other scores that I have listened to throughout the year, but these are the few that stood out to me. I am not entirely sure who will fill in the fifth slot now that Birdman is out of the picture. We will have to see what happens with the awards circuit as things continue. While I am glad to see a few names on here (Under the Skin), I am well aware that voting on them will be pipe dreams. Nonetheless, it is an interesting year for scores and with Desplat turning in four great ones and Zimmer doing his best in years, it will be hard to fault any of the final nominees as being subpar.

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