Music touches us emotionally, where words alone can’t. Part 6 of the yearly Music in Movies series ends here. Even though I missed a few things (ahem…Phantom Thread), I promise, we’re done with 2017 finally. If you missed parts one, two, three, four, and five, they’re available here , here, here, here, and here. Groove out.
I, Tonya (composed by Peter Nashel, soundtrack by various artists)
How Can you Mend a Broken Heart?
Music doesn’t completely play into I, Tonya’s storytelling like Baby Driver did, but still, the licensed soundtrack definitely paints a rebellious, edgy, and grungy tone that supports the fourth wall breaking aspects of the movie. Often times, these songs serve to tap into the psyche of Tonya, which is far from rosy. However, The Incident stands as a moody, uneasy track for the obvious moment that everyone associates Harding for.
Lady Bird (composed by Jon Brion)
Played during the opening sequence of the film, Jon Brion’s opener sets the stage for a warm, offbeat, and quirky experience. C’mon, there are oboes heard extensively! It kind of sounds like an average high school woodwind band. Perhaps that was the affect, pulling on the nostalgia strings?
Summer in Sacramento
Brion’s motif heard in the above three tracks might be my favorite motif/theme of 2017. Using that word again, it creates a very warm feeling despite sounding a little cold. The pieces are so layered, I feel nostalgia, introspection, and a sense of yearning the minute those keys are played and the hi-hat clicks and the descending call-response part comes on. The titular track of Lady Bird simply serves as an amazing coda to the film.
The Shape of Water (composed by Alexandre Desplat)
The Shape of Water
The Shape of Love
So rich and so ethereal is Alexandre Desplat’s score of The Shape of Water. The sounds and melodies that Desplat crafts are broad, deep, dreamy, and lush, befitting of Del Toro’s fantastical production. It’s impossible not to get sucked in, whether during the thrilling and even pulse-pounding moments during The Escape, or the opening narration played over the title track.
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (composed by Carter Burwell)
Mildred Goes to War
Carter Burwell’s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri’s score has a outlaw/last stand/revenge feel to it. Honestly, that sounds a lot more interesting than the score sounds. But, the opener above paints the picture as a vengeful, methodical, almost spaghetti-western like tale that promises a scorched Earth left behind by it’s main character.
The Post (composed by John Williams)
The Presses Roll
Deciding to Publish
The Court’s Decision and End Credits
With the urgency The Post champions, it’s only right that John Williams makes a score that carries a sense of fitting weight and urgency. There’s a lot of power in many of these tracks that is punctuated by Williams’ precise sharp strings and swooping brass orchestra; one can feel the intensity of putting pen to paper and fingers to typewriter and unearthing something important.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi (composed by John Williams)
A New Alliance
The Last Jedi
There’s that guy again. C’mon, it’s John Williams, Star Wars. Little more needs to be said. Even for a non-Force geek like myself who couldn’t tell a Porgi from an Ewok (kidding…I think), there’s something undeniably epic about a Star Wars score and every sound of Williams’ orchestra. Bold, energetic, and vibrant.
All the Money in the World (composed by Daniel Pemberton)
We Are Kidnappers
Sold to an Investor
Visuals do a lot when it comes to painting a picture of setting or time period, but a well crafted score can be just as important, if not more so. Daniel Pemberton’s work in All the Money in the World continues his great recent work. Whether giving life to a retelling of King Arthur, or painting different periods of Steve Jobs’ life, his sounds are always unique and go different places than most composers.
AtMinW is no different, combining classical Italian opera vocals and melodic instrumentation with street sounds and electric spurts that play up the thriller aspect when applicable. A score that shouldn’t go unnoticed.
Call Me By Your Name (soundtrack by various artists, Sufjan Stevens)
Futile Devices (Doveman Remix)
Love My Way
Visions of Gideon
For all the love that songwriter Sufjan Stevens is getting for his Mystery of Love track as a potential Oscar Best Original Song contender, his other contributions to Call Me By Your Name are actually stronger. The lyrics to Futile Devices and Visions of Gideon are painful to listen to, not because they are bad, but so relatable, in the sense that love can be hard to verbalize and worthless to do so, but actions are ever present in the former song. The latter song is heartbreaking, remembering something that was so real and vivid but almost too real, using the Jewish prophet of Gideon to draw light parallels to Elio and his situation. A flooring way to end the movie.
Darkest Hour (composed by Dario Marianelli)
The War Rooms
History is Listening
The piano is such a dynamic instrument, able to convey feelings of love and tenderness, but also aggression and importance. The tracks above by Dario Marianelli, paired with a full orchestra, get at the urgency and importance of the seemingly impossible task that Churchill had in convincing his party to keep fighting in the midst of despair. Very business and processional-like.
Molly’s Game (composed by Daniel Pemberton)
Staring Down a Mountain
House of Cards
All the Beauty in the World
I fittingly end my look at 2017 films and the music that accompanies them with, in my opinion, the most dynamic film composer working today in Daniel Pemberton. He may very well be the best in the game right now at crafting a style for a particular movie. Molly’s Game is crisp and smooth. Sounds like more an adult drink than a film score, but that’s the truth. The metronome in Staring Down a Mountain paired with steel drums and a funky electric guitar creates a 70’s-ish vibe with. The whole score, whether brimming with energy or more sedated like the somber and reflective Scars, feels like clockwork, apropos to the content in Molly’s Game.
Photo credits go to zimbio.com, tinymixtapes.com, filmmusicreporter.com, people.com, jwfan.com, slashfilm.com, billboard.com, stereogum.com, and focusfeatures.com.
Going to try something different this year to end this yearly series. Instead of ranking my favorite scores of the past year in cinema, I’m going to list my top 25 favorite tracks in cinema over the past year, and, my composer of the year. Again, all subjective, and just because a movie may have been generally deemed great or awful by the masses, I could really love one or two, or hell, maybe three or more, of the tracks on its score and the movie may be stellar or poor. These are the tracks I have found myself listening to often, working out to, falling asleep with, humming randomly, or just thinking a lot about.
Composer of the Year: Daniel Pemberton (King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, All The Money in the World, Molly’s Game)
Top 25 of 2017
25. Paradise Lost (War for the Planet of the Apes)
24. A Long Way Back (Life)
23. Hitman’s Bodyguard (The Hitman’s Bodyguard)
22. Demonstration (Atomic Blonde)
21. Project Monarch (Kong: Skull Island)
20. The Last Jedi (Star Wars: The Last Jedi)
19. Wonder Woman’s Wrath (Wonder Woman)
19. John Wick Reckoning (John Wick: Chapter 2)
18. Sikiliza Kwa Wahenga (Get Out)
17. We Are Kidnappers (All The Money in the World)
16. Elisa’s Theme (The Shape of Water)
15. Staring Down a Mountain (Molly’s Game)
14. Visions of Gideon (Call Me By Your Name)
13. The War Rooms (Darkest Hour)
12. Original Score Medley (Logan Lucky)
11. Lady Bird (Lady Bird)
10. The Beast is on the Movie (Split)
9. History is Listening (Darkest Hour)
8. Supermarine (Dunkirk)
7. Growing Up Londinium (King Arthur: Legend of the Sword)
6. Futile Devices (Call Me By Your Name)
5. Main Titles (Logan)
4. The Shape of Water (The Shape of Water)
3. All The Beauty in the World (Molly’s Game)
2. The Mole (Dunkirk)
1. Sea Wall (Blade Runner 2049)
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