As both a musician and a long-time film score aficionado, it grieves me that my first post as an official contributor for AwardsDaily will be an obituary for James Horner. The prolific, longtime film composer died in a plane crash near Santa Barbara on Monday. Horner was only 61 years old, and leaves behind a wife and two daughters.

Although Horner was already an accomplished classically-trained musician and composer before his cinematic career, Horner started in Hollywood the same way that Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, and (future collaborators) Ron Howard and James Cameron did: working for Roger Corman on B movies. And like the others, it did not take long for Horner’s work to garner attention in Hollywood. Horner’s breakthrough into the mainstream came in 1982 with his score on Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan; not long after, Horner would receive his first Academy Award nomination for his work on Aliens.

Speaking of Aliens, one particular thing from Horner that furthered my already deep appreciation for the art (and challenges) of film composing was his frank assessment on his first partnership with James Cameron. Given that Horner’s work on the sci-fi classic was Oscar-nominated and has achieved an iconic status (especially the climactic cue, “Bishop’s Countdown”) one might never believe that the score was, in fact, only around “80% complete,” and created under extremely difficult circumstances. Horner recounts the experience here: Interview with James Horner about “Aliens”

Cameron and Horner parted ways after that troubled collaboration. Fortunately, both would made amends and eventually reunited to great success on Titanic and Avatar. Horner was reportedly also set to return to scoring duties on the Avatar sequels.

Musically, I define Horner by his preternatural ability to compose a heart-tugging melody, by his innate talent at creating soaring cadences. I have long considered Horner to be on par with John Williams in invoking awe and wonder with his cues, with evoking emotional pathos from audiences. As he stated in a 2009 interview with the Los Angeles Times, “My job… is to make sure at every turn of the film it’s something the audience can feel with their heart. When we lose a character, when somebody wins, when somebody loses, when someone disappears — at all times I’m keeping track, constantly, of what the heart is supposed to be feeling. That is my primary role.”

I know some of my fellow film score nerds have given Horner grief over the years for referencing and repurposing older cues/motifs in his later works, but personally I never really had a major issue with it. Horner is certainly not the first artist, musical or otherwise, to be self-referential to some extent.

Before his untimely end, Horner’s career would come to include scoring over 100 films (including 3 Best Picture winners), two Oscars (both for Titanic) and eight additional Oscar nominations. His was an accomplished career by any stretch of the imagination, and I’m sure he was an inspiration to many aspiring film composers.

I end this tribute with five of my favorite compositions from Horner’s repertoire. Note that this is a very small sample from a very productive composer, and I definitely left out quite a few others, so please feel free to share your favorites as well in the comments.

“Charging Fort Wagner” from Glory (1989, dir. Edward Zwick):

“One Last Wish” from Casper (1995, dir. Brad Silberling):

“All Systems Go – The Launch” from Apollo 13 (1995, dir. Ron Howard):

“If We Hold On Together” from The Land Before Time (1988, dir. Don Bluth):

“Becoming One of the People, Becoming One with Neytiri” from Avatar (2009, dir. James Cameron):


“It was an honor to work on this wonderful film and collaborate with a brilliant director like Alejandro González Iñárritu on Birdman. I’m deeply disappointed that the music branch of the Academy did not recognize my score as eligible, even after receiving a detailed cue sheet, a letter from the president of music at Fox studios, and a description of the process from both Alejandro and myself. The disqualification seems to stem from the perception that my score was diluted by the incidental music on the film. I strongly disagree with this idea. The music that people remember after watching the movie is the sound, originality, character, and strength of my score, which seems to be the reason it continues to receive attention, nominations, and awards, which I’m deeply humbled by. Some of the finest composers are members of the Academy and I’m saddened my score didn’t resonate with the decision makers.”

– Antonio Sanchez, Composer – Birdman


Birdman Score Accolades

Golden Globe Nominee – Original Score
Critics’ Choice Award Nominee – Best Score
Venice Film Festival – WINNNER – Soundtrack Stars for Best Score Award
Hollywood Music in Media Awards – WINNER – Best Original Score | Feature Film
Austin Film Critics Association – WINNER – Best Score
Las Vegas Film Critics Society – WINNER – Best Score
Phoenix Film Critics Society – WINNER – Best Original Score
St. Louis Gateway Film Critics Association – WINNER – Best Music Score
Chicago Film Critics Association – Nomination – Best Original Score
Houston Film Critics Association – Nomination – Best Original Score
San Diego Film Critics Society – Nomination – Best Original Score
Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association – Nomination – Best Original Score
Satellite Awards – Nominee – Best Original Score


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



Alexandre Desplat – The Imitation Game
Antonio Sanchez – Birdman
Jóhann Jóhannsson – The Theory of Everything
Hans Zimmer – Interstellar
Steven Price – Fury
Thomas Newman – The Judge
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross – Gone Girl


Tyler Bates – Guardians of the Galaxy
Steve Jablonsky – Transformers: Age of Extinction
James Newton Howard – Maleficent
Michael Giacchino – Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Howard Shore – The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Clint Mansell – Noah


Danny Elfman – Mr. Peabody and Sherman
Dario Marianelli – The Boxtrolls
Gustavo Santaolalla – The Book of Life
John Powell – How To Train Your Dragon 2
Kristian Sensini – Rocks in My Pockets
Mark Mothersbaugh – The Lego Movie


Mark Adler – Merchants of Doubt
Vivek Maddala – American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs
Adam Crystal – Born to Fly
Emilio D. Miler – H.O.P.E. Was Here
Christophe Beck & Leo Birenberg – Red Army


Nicolas Repetto – Ode In Blood
Stephen – Requiem for My Mother
Stefano Sacchi – Milo-n the Moon
Jesús Calderón – Dragonet PRIMUS
Nicolas Techer – Somnolence
Julia Pajot – Impulsion
Pedro Rene Bastidas – The Decisive Moment
Luigi Pulcini – 4


Gwendolyn Sanford, Scott Doherty, Brandon Jay – Orange is the New Black
T Bone Burnett – True Detective
Alan Silvestri – Cosmos: A Space Time Odyssey
Cliff Martinez – The Knick
Corey Allen jackson – Parallels
Juan Carlos Rodriguez – Matador
Ramin Djawadi – Game of Thrones

Full List of Winners

Visual Media
Antonio Sanchez – Birdman

Howard Shore – The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

John Powell – How To Train Your Dragon 2

Mark Adler – Merchants of Doubt

Julia Pajot – Impulsion

Alan Silvestri – Cosmos: A Space Time Odyssey

Russell Brower, Neal Acree, Clint Bajakian, Sam Cardon, Craig Stuart Garfinkle, Edo Guidotti and Eimear Noone – World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor

“Lost Stars” (Begin Again) Written by Gregg Alexander & Danielle Brisebois. Performed by Adam Levine and Keira Knightley

“Everything is Awesome” (The Lego Movie) Written By Shawn Patterson, Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer, Jorma Taccone, Joshua Bartholomew and Lisa Harriton. Performed by Tegan and Sara feat. The Lonely Island

“Stopping For Death” (Coming Home) Written and performed by Joel Martin

“LittleBigPlanet Fugue in G major” (LittleBigPlanet 3) Written & Performed by Maestro Sackboy

Garrett Dutton, Chad Howlett and Earl Bryant Jr. – “Milk & Cereal” (Kellogg’s Cereal)

Isaias Garcia – Dream Revenant

Dylan Berry, Stefan Litrownik, Craig Cleek (Encore Network)

Jeff Broadbent – Gunslayer Legend (Gunslayer Legend)

Max Richter (The Leftovers)

David Collado – “Paisaje Herrado”

Michelle Silverman & Bob Thiele Jr. (Sons of Anarchy)

Season Kent (The Fault in Our Stars)

Guardians of the Galaxy

Jon Mullane – Any Other Way

Adult Contemporary/AAA
Viktoria Tocca

Ryan Aderréy

Phil Celia

Jimmy Z and the ZTribe

Contemporary Christian/Gospel
David Dayo

Contemporary Classical/Instrumental
Vicente Ortiz Gimeno

MacLear & Waters


EDM (Electronic Dance Music)


New Age/Ambient
Romu Agullo

Kanisha K


Rap/Hip Hop
Block Scholars


Moxy and The Influence

Vocal (Female)
Tarra Layne

Vocal (Male)
Kyle Vincent

Tony Chen


The Gone Girl soundtrack is another brilliant masterwork by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, opening up yet another dimension to the work of David Fincher.  It’s as harmonious a marriage as the one between Steven Spielberg and John Williams, providing more than just background music, but a vital part of the storytelling. Having seen Gone Girl twice now I can say with confidence that it’s hard for me to separate the character of Amy Dunne from the music that operates, in many ways, as the stormy seas that churn beneath the chilly blonde’s facade.

Reznor and Ross did something similar with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, offering up Lisbeth’s mercurial underneath.  But Amy is an enigma wrapped inside a riddle, thus the music has to both indulge in her inclination towards fantasy and reveal the darker truths about her. They hit it out of the park. It’s almost impossible to pick one track since it is a cohesive whole, ultimately.  One track leading to the next track, carefully carrying the rhythm of the film without spilling a drop.  This is Amy’s dreamscape you’re listening to and it helps to reveal what the character never will.

Without giving too much away, the narrative twists in the story are reflected in the score so that you go from a softness, romantic, lilting grooves into much more invigorating and alive riffs, all the while still echoing what is the musical and narrative through line.  My favorite tracks are Technically, Missing, and Sugar Storm – which is like floating on a cotton candy cloud over a sea of sharks.

Like Home is unlike anything I’ve ever heard from these composers. It starts out like something from a Frank Capra movie. It is the crescendo of a thousand promises.  So sweet, so sad, so alluring — the sound the heart makes each time we crack open a romance novel or receive a dozen roses. But then, it bends and crawls backwards, upsetting the carefully placed imagery that came before. Inside there somewhere, though, is a shrieking.  A terrified, hollow cry for something we can never have.  Sugar Storm is like a monster in a box, a pretty pretending. Technically, Missing is the dividing point – a splendid deep dive into limitless possibilities but then building, once again, in a completely different direction.

If you notice, this is a score about dualities.  It is the one thing, but then it’s totally a different thing. That is how deeply embedded into the story it goes. Each track catches layers of sound, harmonious then discordant, like our perceptions of Amy. It is as though Amy herself is telling the composers what to convey for maximum effect but of course, the music betrays and reveals far more than Amy intends, thus there is continual conflict between the lilting romantic sheen and the craziness down below.

I’m not quite sure yet if this soundtrack is the best of the three they’ve done or if I’ve just listened to the other two so much this one automatically rises to the top. Either way, this is one you’re going to want to download and play constantly.

All three soundtracks are utterly different, so specific to their films but at the same time, fully realized works onto themselves.  Gone Girl is nestled between the pulsating tightly wound Social Network score and the wildly off, explosive nature of Dragon Tattoo. Though this one is more controlled, it nonetheless is spirited by female energy, like Dragon Tattoo, with the same measure of control as the Social Network.

I find myself running out of adjectives to describe the work of these two talented composers.  You don’t really need me to tell you anyway. You simply need to listen.

The Gone Girl soundtrack, by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, is available for purchase on iTunes. You can listen to snippets of it here and there.

Further Reading:

Interview with Reznor in Rolling Stone


The Reznor/Ross score from Gone Girl is haunting, playful, and kind of creepy. Have a listen.


There isn’t a lot of noise out there on the upcoming third collaboration with David Fincher and Reznor/Ross, the composers who won the Oscar for The Social Network. Their second collaboration, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, is even more ambitious than their Oscar-winning score though just as great. The Academy, as we know, gets a little nervous when you step too far outside the box. Composers nominate composers and it’s a fairly incestuous little group, like many of the other crafts categories. They have their own superstars, like John Williams. This is one of the categories where you can look at the name and know they’re mostly headed for a nomination. The popular ones are of late include the king, John Williams, with 5 wins and 44 nominations. But also Hans Zimmer, Gustavo Sataolalla, James Horner, Thomas Newman, Alexandre Desplat, James Newton Howard, Danny Elfman, etc. That Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross not only crashed that exclusive club but also won with The Social Network is unusual. That they couldn’t quite cozy up to Dragon Tattoo is not surprising, if you’ve ever listened to that unbelievable score, one that ought to be considered among the greatest. It is so memorable, so strange, so unique – no one makes music like that in film.

The score to the Social Network, like the film itself, is a perfect thing. I spend many afternoons listening to it start to finish. I find it’s the best music to put on for inspiration if you have to write something or finish something. You can listen to the score and know exactly what scene, sometimes what lines are being said during a particular point. It is the hum, the drumbeat, the essential throughline to a perfect film.

The score for Dragon Tattoo is, to me, a masterpiece. It is as disturbing and unpredictable as the film and wildly different from The Social Network. To me, the score has captured Lisbeth’s complex inner world – her wildness, her self-control, her occasional craziness and the way she sort of weaves in and out of society, half-noticed, half-ignored.

When Trent Reznor took the stage at the Hollywood Bowl a while back with Nine Inch Nails it was an opportunity to see Reznor as the rock star — okay, Rock God — he is known as “out there” in the world. His work with Nine Inch Nails isn’t as far off from his composing as one might think. He moves fluidly through both forms, a musician through and through. As the frontman for Nine Inch Nails more is expected of him and he more than delivers. Under the warm Hollywood night sky Nine Inch Nails electrified the crowd that leapt to its feet and didn’t stop standing until the lights came up and the show was over.

Reznor took the stage before the crowd figured out what was going on for Copy of A (I did not record this video fwiw)

At first, it’s been said, Trent Reznor was not sure about whether or not to do Gone Girl — it didn’t really speak to him until he saw a screening of the film. Whatever Fincher delivers on screen was disturbing enough that he felt a connection. Why they are so good together, in my opinion, is that they do not shy away from darkness. If you have not yet gotten a copy of Hesitation Marks you should. The way Reznor is evolving as a rock musician is different from his work as a composer but each are, in my humble opinion, fascinating.

Music in film generally aids or enhance the emotional experience. Usually. It is put there to fill up empty spaces or to help the viewer indulge or luxuriate in the moment. But sometimes it is itself a character in film, as it is with John Williams’ score for Jaws, or Peter Gabriel’s score for The Last Temptation of Christ. Or certainly Phillip Glass. I would also have to add Bob Dylan on Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid. I guess it’s because these composers, with the exception of Williams, also work in other arenas than composing. Their work in film stands apart. John Williams is such a great composer that any time he’s on a film you know it. Immediately. The same could now be said, quite easily, of Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. They were always an outside the box choice for an outside the box director. No matter what becomes of Gone Girl, that music, which I haven’t yet heard, I know will endure.

I feel lucky to be alive at a time when Reznor is making music with Nine Inch Nails and composing film. In decades to come some might be envious of those of us who lived through it. Gone Girl opens to the NY Film Fest in a couple of weeks and we’ll get our first taste of what the new Reznor/Ross score is going to be like. I’m sure, like the other two, it will be part of my permanent collection.


Academy Award winning composer and badass front man of Nine Inch Nails, Trent Reznor, along with partner Atticus Ross collaborating with David Fincher on Gone Girl. Posted moments ago on their Facebook page. A second photo after the jump.




Whether an artist is working in front of the camera, behind the camera, or in a recording studio, the film industry is perpetually the home of working ten or twenty years to become an overnight success story. In the case of Steven Price, the composer spent almost two decades rising up through the ranks of music departments, working on projects as varied as The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, I’m Not There, and Pirate Radio. After becoming part of Edgar Wright’s creative team on Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, he wrote his first scores for Joe Cornish’s Attack the Block and Wright’s The World’s End.

All of this led to Price writing the score for Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity, for which Price has already won a BAFTA and Critics Choice Award, and received an Oscar nomination for Best Original Score. In celebration of Price’s BAFTA win and Oscar nomination, I recently spoke with Price about his work on what is universally considered to be the most ambitious film of 2013. Here’s what Price shared with me about the unique spirit with which Cuaron challenged everyone creatively, Sandra Bullock’s acclaimed performance serving as his muse, and crafting the score for Gravity.

Continue reading…


If you’ve never listened to Trent Reznor and Atticus’ Ross unbelievable score to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo you are missing, what I’ve always thought was, the definitive score of a film.  It’s certainly up there with the Last Temptation of Christ (meant to say, thanks KT), Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid, etc. Their score for The Social Network won the Oscar and is a score I listen to at least once a week.  So  it is fantastic news to hear that Reznor/Ross will be scoring Fincher’s upcoming Gone Girl.  Fincher has already shown he is doing this movie his way (of course) and not trying to just bring the beloved book to the big screen with the morbid twist on John and Yoko.  It’s already “out there” that the ending is going to be different. It seems to me that using Reznor/Ross adds a layer that wouldn’t ordinarily be there because Fincher allows the score to be as prominent as a character in the film. So this is hot stuff to hear on a Tuesday.

As we’re now in the heart of the holiday season, the major movie studios are rolling out the latest crop of “tentpole” movies, aimed at drawing family audiences to their films in the busiest movie-going days of the year. Disney’s latest offering, Frozen, hits theaters today. Frozen equally honors and reinvents the tradition of Disney fairy tales, and deserves the success and acclaim of modern Disney classics The Little Mermaid, The Lion King, and Aladdin.

The heart of what made the films deeply well-loved was the music. For Frozen, Disney enlisted the talents of husband-and-wife songwriting team Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez. Robert won Tonys and numerous other awards for Avenue Q and The Book of Mormon, before the couple began working together on a number of animation projects including 2011’s Winnie the Pooh. In Frozen, their songs including “Let It Go,” “Do You Want to Build a Snowman,” “For the First Time in Forever,” and “Reindeers Are Better Than People” are the perfect fit for this funny and resonant story with a voice cast that includes Kristen Bell (TV’s Veronica Mars), Idina Menzel (Rent), Jonathan Groff (TV’s Glee), and Josh Gad (Jobs). I recently enjoyed a fun and insightful chat with Robert and Kristen, and they took me deep into the process of writing the song score for Disney’s latest outing. Here’s what they shared with me about putting their spin on the Disney princess genre, balancing a writing partnership and a marriage, and crafting the songs of Frozen.

Continue reading…


The other night I was invited to listen to a live performance of Alexander, who scored All is Lost. One of the many interesting things about the JC Chandor joint is how he put it together and what kind of talent he found. Chief among those is the talented enigma behind Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros who is really Alex Ebert. The party was held at a location which is as yet unnamed, and no press exists about it. You aren’t even really allowed to take photos. But if I could have taken any I would have taken hundreds. The two story room has a secret screening room upstairs, whereupon I met Mr. Ebert who was sitting there discussing how All is Lost looked playing on the projection wall. It looked fantastic, of course – those bright aqua blues, Redford’s shock of red-grey hair.

The bar provided endless amounts of liquor. Waiters passed around food to eat as people began to fill up the place. Ebert then took the stage after a brief intro by Chandor. Of scoring the film, Ebert told NPR:

It really felt like stepping into nothing, and just sort of putting that first color on that gigantic canvas. … Silence was the other main character, and … I really wanted to respect the silence — and by silence, of course, I mean the natural sounds, and the sounds that Redford is hearing.

As a fan of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes my mind was kind of blown. Do I get to do lots of groovy things on the job? I do. This was one of them. Even though there were no pictures available, I stole Tom O’Neil’s idea of using a small recorder to get some of it down for the record. You can listen to that below.

Continue reading…

By Ryan Fogarty

Much like his cousin Randy before him, Thomas Newman has amounted 11 Oscar nominations without a win (to be clear, Randy earned 15 Oscar nominations before winning Best Song for Monsters, Inc. in 2002.) Newman is my personal Susan Lucci. I was first introduced to his music when I saw Little Women in theatres in 1994, I would later learn by that point he had scored a slew of films including The Shawshank Redemption (nom), Fried Green Tomatoes, The Player, Scent of a Woman, and many others before that.

I didn’t join an Oscar pool this year, but rest assured I would have put my film-score hopes and dreams on Newman again. I thought my favorite bridesmaid was finally in dress good enough to upstage the bride—the bride being Michael Danna—who would win for the ethnically charged score to Life of Pi (I’m taken back to when Eliot Goldenthal won for Frida as opposed to the haunting The Hours score by Philip Glass).

I rationalize my bet on Newman by bringing to mind the so-called “Bond Tribute” included in this year’s Oscars show. A compilation of video clips—all the handsome Bonds and Bond women—and the DA DA DA-AAAA TA-DA DA of it all. Shirley Bassey would be there and with Adele being one of the nights sure bets why not Newman? The man interweaved the brass, the suspense, the sex, his own bravado and the kind of music we love from old Bond to create a new Bond, which is exactly what Sam Mendes’ film was trying to do.

Continue reading…

The largest numbers this year are, for the most part, split evenly between four composers, all of whom received four nominations: MYCHAEL DANNA, ALEXANDRE DESPLAT, FERNANDO VELÁZQUEZ and veteran composer JOHN WILLIAMS.

The nominations for Danna, Velázquez and Williams were each for a single score – director Ang Lee’s vivid shipwreck drama LIFE OF PI, director Juan Antonio Bayona’s harrowing tsunami drama THE IMPOSSIBLE [LO IMPOSIBLE] and director Steven Spielberg’s look at the last months of the life of Abraham LINCOLN, respectively.

Desplat’s nominations were for his body of work in 2012 which included writing IFMCA Award-nominated music for the quirky comedy MOONRISE KINGDOM, the storybook animation RISE OF THE GUARDIANS, and the contemporary war thriller ZERO DARK THIRTY, as well as for the 1970s espionage thriller ARGO, the realistic French romantic drama RUST AND BONE [DE ROUILLE ET D’OS], the Italian satirical comedy REALITY, and the French-language biopic CLOCLO.

2012 Film Categories


  • CLOUD ATLAS, music by Tom Tykwer, Johnny Klimek and Reinhold Heil
  • THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY, music by Howard Shore
  • THE IMPOSSIBLE, music by Fernando Velázquez
  • LIFE OF PI, music by Mychael Danna
  • LINCOLN, music by John Williams



Continue reading…

For twenty-five years, Canadian film composer Mychael Danna has created an extensive and varied body of work. His filmography includes multiple films with Atom Egoyan (Exotica, The Sweet Hereafter, Chloe), Mira Nair (Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love, Monsoon Wedding, Vanity Fair), and the Best Picture nominees Capote, Little Miss Sunshine, and Moneyball. Another of Danna’s long-running creative partnerships is with Oscar-winning director Ang Lee for whom he scored The Ice Storm and Ride with the Devil. Danna’s latest work is on Lee’s new film Life of Pi, for which Danna has already received Critics Choice and Golden Globe nominations for Best Original Score. In addition to writing the score, Danna’s work on the film also included writing the Oscar eligible original song “Pi’s Lullaby” with Indian singer Bombay Jayashri. In celebration of these accolades, I recently enjoyed a conversation with Danna while he was taking a break from working on Egoyan’s next film Devil’s Knot. Here’s what Danna shared with me about working with Lee, writing a score that included sounds and instruments from all over the world, and crafting Life of Pi.

Continue reading…

BEVERLY HILLS, CA – One hundred four scores from eligible feature-length motion pictures released in 2012 are in contention for nominations in the Original Score category for the 85th Academy Awards®, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced today.

The eligible scores along with their composers are listed below in alphabetical order by film title:

“Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter,” Henry Jackman, composer
“After the Wizard,” Stephen Main, composer
“Alex Cross,” John Debney and Sebastian Morton, composers
“The Amazing Spider-Man,” James Horner, composer
“Anna Karenina,” Dario Marianelli, composer
“Argo,” Alexandre Desplat, composer
“Battleship,” Steve Jablonsky, composer
“The Bay,” Marcelo Zarvos, composer
“Beasts of the Southern Wild,” Dan Romer and Benh Zeitlin, composers
“Being Flynn,” Damon Gough, composer
“The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,” Thomas Newman, composer
“Big Miracle,” Cliff Eidelman, composer
“Booker’s Place: A Mississippi Story,” David Cieri, composer
“Brave,” Patrick Doyle, composer

Continue reading…

He co-wrote and directed Beasts of the Southern Wild AND scored it.

Exciting note from Rolling Stone this morning with a link to their exclusive stream of the entire Special Edition of The Hobbit soundtrack. (thanks to Ra as well)

Neil Finn had dwarves on the mind when he wrote “Song of the Lonely Mountain,” a ballad that plays over the end credits of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. When the New Zealand composer met with film director Peter Jackson and his team to discuss plans for the song – which appears on the film’s soundtrack, premiering exclusively today on Rolling Stone – he was told that these stocky denizens of Middle-Earth played a big role in the film.

“They talked a lot about how the movie really, in many ways, is a tale of the dwarves, as much as it’s called The Hobbit,” Finn tells Rolling Stone.

Most of the film’s soundtrack was composed by Howard Shore, who recorded it at Abbey Road Studios in London. Finn occasionally corresponded with Shore over email but worked on “Song of the Lonely Mountain” at Jackson’s post-production office in Wellington, New Zealand. He didn’t hear the whole soundtrack until he attended the film’s world premiere in Wellington earlier this week.

Continue reading…

Continue reading…

I have found there to be two types of film critics in all of my years reading and watching how film criticism has evolved for the past 13 years or so. There are those who prefer to remain always the objective observer, studying whether the film “works” or not. Occasionally, a film will break through that objectivity and move them greatly, much to their surprise.  But another kind of critic, perhaps the modern day blogger, affords themselves the opportunity to simply let go, even if it means going against the status quo, because they are more fan than critic. Roger Ebert is neither of these, though he is closer to the former than the latter. He isn’t someone who allows him emotions to get in the way of his analysis, and yet, he doesn’t dismiss a film that has that ability.

On the other side of the spectrum are many a good bad review of Cloud Atlas. There are plenty of those. I am not sure of what use they are to you other than to tell you not to buy a ticket to the movie. At any rate, there are three reviews you should definitely read before you see it. One is by Roger Ebert, one by Owen Gleiberman at EW and the other, AO Scott from the NY Times. It is also worth reading the debate between Lisa Schwarzbaum and B. Ruby Rich who toss the ball back and forth.

Ebert’s review describes the movie I saw. If you go in looking for it to make sense you will have a hard time with it. If you trust the storytellers are taking you somewhere worthwhile it will work its magic on you. But you have to wait about 45 minutes on your first viewing. My second viewing was a deeper, richer experience. I got more what it was about. But I cried both times. I feel like this film and Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master are two opposing declarations of the human experience as I’ve come to know it. You could probably add in Life of Pi, I suppose, though it is less difficult to understand. The Master is uniquely grounded on the planet earth. It is a story about a specific culture. Cloud Atlas is more cosmic, less grounded. Both drill through our collective core. Gobbledygook? Perhaps. I like Ebert’s review which says, don’t even bother trying to understand it.

Continue reading…

Sign In


Reset Your Password

Email Newsletter