Thursday, January 6, 2011

LiE Awards 2010: Music of the Movies

To be quite honest, I can't say this year was a stellar year for music in cinema. Many of the scores I found most fascinating have been given the Oscar boot, and the rest I struggle to remember. Yet, my list of favorite musical accompaniments is not subject to the rules and regulations of any other body than me. As such, the following list of songs and scores I found most memorable (or most pleasant to listen to in the case that I haven't seen the particular film in question) are the ones of my own choosing. Without further ado...

Best Original SONGS of 2010:

5. "We Belong Together" by Randy Newman - Toy Story 3:

Randy Newman and the Toy Story trilogy are as inseparable as bread and wheat. The two appear to have a synchronicity that supersede the realm most other musicians-directors operate on. Every time they have combined it has produced an Oscar caliber song worthy of mention and enjoyment. This one is no different.

4. "Shine" by John Legend - Waiting for Superman:

Sometimes you don't even need to see a movie to fall in long with its focal point song. Such is the case with Legend's wondrous voice and Shine for the documentary Waiting for Superman. Placing the difficult lives of those struggling to get a good education, Shine works in the context of a call to arms and a platform piece.

3. "Sticks and Stones" by Jonsi - How to Train Your Dragon:

Upbeat, high tempo, and constantly on the move, closing your eyes to this song and you can almost put yourself right in the sky with Hiccup and company.

2. "I See the Light" by Alan Menken & Glenn Slater - Tangled:

I may have poo-pooed a bit on the music in Tangled when I wrote up my review, but let me clarify by saying that I do think most of the songs were rather mediocre EXCEPT for this one. Wonderfully performed by Zachery Levi and Mandy Moore, this song is amplified several times over when captured during a wonderful 3D sequence in the film. Besides, I'm allowed at least one mushy song, aren't I? ... please?

1. "If I Rise" by A.R. Rahman and Dido - 127 Hours:

Serene, simple, and beautiful, there's little to find other than sheer majesty in this song spun by Oscar winner A.R. Rahman. The song perfectly blends into the style and awe inspiring imagery captured by Boyle in 127 Hours.

Best Original Scores of 2010

5. The King's Speech by Alexandre Desplat

One would be hard pressed not to include Alexandre Desplat on any list of the best scores of 2010. With work on The Ghost Writer, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and a quick capping it off with King's Speech, he was on a roll. For The King's Speech I found his music eerily mysterious, alluring, but mesmerizing. It pulled me into the scenes, and kept me wanting more. Besides, are these lists even allowed to be made if they don't include a score for a British period film?

4. The Town by Harry Gregson Williams & David Buckley

Have I mentioned enough here how much I love it when a composer finds a way to meld simple with the high tempo expectations of blockbusters? If not, allow me to say it one more time - I just love it. While I may get in a debate with you about the merits of the film itself, I fully believe Harry Gregson Williams and David Buckley did an outstanding job on The Town soundtrack. It's engrossing, captivating, and matches the mood set by the film without hesitation or debate.

3. Inception by Hans Zimmer:

You'd be surprised how many people aren't entirely aware that there's more to the Inception score than that incessant 'Bwahm'  noise people constantly rave about. No, Hans Zimmer crafted a simple and melodic score that blends the thunderous roars with simple, classic, orchestration beauty.

2. True Grit by Carter Burwell:

Regardless of it being based on the song 'Leaning on Everlasting Arms,' I firmly believe this score is a unique work unto itself and worthy of recognition. The use of piano in conjunction with the score creates just the right feel to carry the vibe of an old west tale. It is in every aspect the kind of song I could find myself sitting back and listening to time and time again.

1. Black Swan by Clint Mansell:

Seriously, Clint Mansell can not get a break in Hollywood. The man has been one of the pinnacle creators of movie scores for the last ten years (quick, try and count the number of commercials that have used Requiem for a Dream's main score), and yet at every turn he gets either snubbed or DQed. Do I hold a bit of a grudge for him getting no recognition for Moon? Perhaps, but the man is a proven talent and Black Swan is no different. Taking his own unique style and interposing it onto Swan Lake, Mansell created a stylistic score as memorable as any of the cinema in 2010.

2010 Honorable Mentions:
Shutter Island - for outstanding use of the score Symphony No.3 Passacaglia - Allegro Moderato by Penderecki
Inception - for exposing people to the beautiful music of Edith Piaf and Non Je Ne Regrette Rien

Well, ladies and gentlemen that just about wraps up my coverage of the music of 2010. Stay tuned as over the next week and a half I'll be covering: Performances, Directing, and of course my TOP 10 films of 2010!

Meanwhile, what are your favorite scores/songs of 2010?

14 better thoughts:

Lesya Khyzhnyak said...

I loved Inception, The King's Speech and True Grit scores. I also love Black Swan's one but I can't call it original. Yes, Mansell did a wonderful job but he transformed the Thaikovsky's music. Can this work be called original? Do you know whether they considered it eligible for awards? Sadly, I wouldn't.

Univarn said...

@Lesya No, they don't consider it original, but I believe these days so many of our 'original' scores are merely plays on other aspects of musics (classical-jazz) with a couple minor changed that I'm willing to allow it.

SugaryCynic said...

it is a friggin crime that Mansell and Burwell were disqualified for nominations for Best Score because the music was rooted in other things. Burwell's score in particular really stayed with me after the movie. Also, I dig that Jonsi song but no love for John Powell's score? It was incredible!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Agree with you on #2 and 3 for song, and certainly with Inception for best score. Although I felt the best score was Daft Punk's music for Tron Legacy.

Marc said...

I agree with you putting "If I Rise" as number 1 and will cast my vote as well:) "Sticks and Stones" was a great end credits song and sums up the feel of Dragon.

As far as best score (I really dig film scores btw) I agree with Sugar Cynic, Powell's score was terrific and surprisingly absent from your list. Personally speaking, I do think that Daft Punk knocked it out of the park with Tron Legacy. The Social Network, funny enough had the same mood as Tron and when deciding between the two I'm split on which I like better (funny to think of Trent Reznor ever getting an Oscar).

Inception's greatness goes without saying but I think Zimmer is starting a movement in music where a blanket theme replaces dynamic music that's specific to the scene; more of an atmospheric score than we're used to hearing.

Lastly I think Black Swan, as great as it is, it going to be too subtle to the Oscar crowd to pull out a win. Swan will take home some gold but I don't think it'll be for music:(

Univarn said...

@Sugary For whatever reason, Powell's score never really called out to me. I could revisit it, but at the moment I don't recall it.

@Alex and Marc: I don't care much for techno, haven't seen Tron Legacy, and what I have listened to from Daft Punk's score didn't appeal to me without the film's context. Therefore, it didn't make it onto my list.

Aiden R. said...

I get your explanation for Daft Punk, but no love for Trent Reznor and The Social Network? As a Nine Inch Nails groupie, I am sad.

Marc said...

Despite their techno background the Tron Legacy Soundtrack has more orchestral leanings and has an electronic tone but the feel and weight of Inception. Almost like it's trying to be a blend of Zimmer and Vangelis.

And I'm with Aiden; The Social Network is awesome even if I'm not a NIN groupie:)

Aaron said...

As somebody who thinks Nine Inch Nails is overrated as f***, I could care less about you including Trent Reznor's score on here. And as somebody who has similar feelings about Daft Punk (though I do need to listen to more), well, you get the drift. Though keep in mind I haven't seen either of those films, either (as a film lover, I know this is considered a crime not to have seen The Social Network but whateva fuk u prepz!!1!!11!!!1.... ignore that; I've been reading too much My Immortal).

Speaking of Harry Potter (if you don't know how this is related look up My Immortal, or worst/best fanfic ever), I do find it rather disappointing you didn't include O Children by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. Of course, I am a Nick Cave & BS fan, but regardless I still found the scene that the song was used in so fitting. I beautiful representation of the loss of innocence (which Is what I think the movie really actually is about, to be honest) that almost made cry. Though maybe that's because I'm less than a year in age distance between the characters and have grown up with them for 10 years.... but still. One of my favorite songs and scenes of the year, and of the Harry Potter series.

Univarn said...

@Aiden If I was to have done a top 10 scores I probably would have included it. However, on top 5 alone it didn't make the cut.

@March I love Social Network, but I refer to the above comment to Aiden on why it's not in my top 5

@Aaron I thought real long and hard about including the Nick Cave song, but I just couldn't do it. I liked the scene well enough, but it left a minuscule impression on me.

Anonymous said...

I'd give a lot more thought but the first thing that came to mind is Daft Punk's TRON, easily the best thing about the movie. As Marc said, it's not just pure techno which I usually don't care for. Funny that you said it's Zimmer + Vangelis, Marc, as I was thinking the same as I was listening to it. In fact, some of the tracks are highly reminiscent of Inception.

Japan Cinema said...

Inception was by far the best, followed by How To Train Your Dragon. Thats one thing Asian films can't compete with.

Fletch said...

Yay for the Jonsi love. His uptempo stuff is great. My only complaint? That song isn't on his solo album. Boo. Great end credits song.

That 127 Hours song just ain't doin' it for me, though. Funny, since I noticed the music a lot in that flick and dug it, just not that one.

Hooray for the new background color!

Univarn said...

@Flix I get the Daft Punk love, it just didn't do nearly as much for me as the rest of these did.

@Japan It depends on the director really. I know whenever Ang Lee gears up to do a film, there's going to be some amazing music... but his films are specifically 'Asian' films.

@Fletch Reason it's not on his solo album: If it was, high odds are it would be DQed from Oscar competition (it's happened several times over the last few years).

I understand if it doesn't do it for you, it's just the exact kind of song I go for. Slow with emphasis on melody over a constant barrage of words = Uni haven.

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