Apologies for the delay on this one, people! I knew that I had to watch a few more films with scores I knew were going to be good to amazing, and I would have felt awful not highlighting them.
Spotlight (composed by Howard Shore)
The Story Breaks
Delivering the News
Spotlight‘s score, despite it being somewhat solemn (obviously unsurprising given the subject matter), is the type of score I could use to get to sleep and/or late night studying, if I were still in college. The tracks rely on piano and electric guitar, and these and the other very few instruments featured in Shore’s composition are sort of reflective of Spotlight and its main narrative theme of uncovering the story with no frills or extraneous detail. The overall sound is very “probing,” inquisitive but not aggressively so, understated but still able to be felt. It’s a calm listen.
Trumbo (composed by Theodore Shapiro)
Eighty Words a Minute
Shapiro’s score for Trumbo is at its best when the tracks feel like something out of the mid-40’s and early 50’s, a time in which jazz was pretty popular in the world and the U.S. The two pieces help to further set Trumbo in the right time period, and I imagine they are supposed to embody the speed and somewhat improvisational work output Dalton had to undertake for his scripts, especially after returning from prison.
Concussion (composed by James Newton Howard)
There is an NFL Films-ish feel with this track. What I love about this piece (which opens the film), is how beautiful it sounds for the first half of the song, and then how it progressively gets more forceful and aggressive. It is reminiscent of a football game in some ways. At its peak, it is a marvel to look at, from the way the offensive line blocks to the picture-perfect spiral that a quarterback throws. But in the beauty always lies danger, fear, and the idea that every hit leaves its mark on a player.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens (composed by John Williams)
March of the Resistance
The Jedi Steps and Finale
The knock on John Williams’ latest musical contribution to the Star Wars universe (and to a large extent, Episode VII), is that it is derivative of earlier sounds, not exactly making any new themes of its own. Yours truly is nowhere near a Star Wars super fan, but it is impossible to go through life without being semi-familiar with the leitmotifs of Williams’ crown jewel. I actually think he does a great job of using these old cues (it’s what the people want to hear), but introducing new ones and themes, such as the beautiful Rey’s Theme, and March of the Resistance, sure to be staples
If anything, he shows restraint, because this is a trilogy. One has to assume that in the next film, more character themes will become more pronounced, more developed…more “hummable.” It’s hard not to feel the optimism for the future of the franchise, though, after hearing The Jedi Steps and Finale. It’s probably the most bold and voluminous track of the whole film, leaving you wanting more. One can only hope it is setting up future installments for big and fresh new adventures in a galaxy far, far away. I’d bet on it.
The Hateful Eight (composed by Ennio Morricone)
L’Ultima Dillgenza di Red Rock
I Quattro Passeggeri
“I didn’t ever want to trust a composer with the soul of my movie“-Quentin Tarantino.
You made a wise choice to do so, QT. Apologies that some of the sounds are not true to what was heard in the theaters. But even at a octave lower, this is still one of the better scores of 2015. There’s something so amazing about how Ennio Morricone blends a multitude of genres within the whole score, and within a single piece. Starting with Overture and continuing through the rest of the score, Morricone infuses a sense of horror with some drama, legitimate tension, mystery, and even some comedy to enhance and even surpass what is being seen on the screen. A worthy winner of Best Original Score at The Golden Globes, and potentially The Oscars.
The Revenant (composed by Ryuichi Sakamoto)
I think the easiest way to describe Sakamoto’s score (predominately done by him, but not solely), is minimalistic beauty.
Reached the end! My five favorite motion picture scores of the year:
5. (tie) Ex Machina/Mad Max: Fury Road
4. The Hateful Eight
3. Steve Jobs
I may try putting some of these out earlier next year. To a great 2016 in movies, and the music that accompanies them!
Follow the Movie Man @MovieManJackson