In advance of Academy Awards, weigh in on your favorite film scores
On Thursday afternoon, I was a guest on WYPR's "Midday With Dan Rodricks" to discuss film scores (there's podcast available), and the discussion reminded me all over again just how movie music, from the silent era to today, can yield a satisfaction equal to (sometimes surpassing) what's on the screen. It takes remarkable talent to compose a score that serves a movie fully, one that supports the action, enhances overt and subtle emotions with equal skill, perfectly evokes moods and things and places.
On Sunday night, an Oscar will be handed to a composer of this year's best original score. The odds favor "Avatar," but you never know what's inside that elegantly sealed envelope, do you? I thought I'd take a little poll and see what you think of the nominated scores. (Especially since I haven't seen/heard any of these movies yet.) Then, I'd like to hear from you about your favorite film scores from any year.
(I won't address the topic of Best Song, since that particular Academy Award category was, after a long string of questionable decisions, finally rendered irredeemably useless for me the year the Oscar went to that timeless ditty, "It's Hard Our Here for a Pimp." Puleeeeeeeezzzzze.)
So here we go. Round One. Which of these nominees for Best Original Score do you think should win the gilded statuette Sunday night -- and why?
"Avatar," James Horner
"Fantastic Mr. Fox." Alexandre Desplat
"The Hurt Locker," Marco Beltrami and Buck Sanders
"Sherlock Holmes," Hans Zimmer
"Up," Michael Giacchino
And now, Round Two. Which film scores from any era do you consider most Oscar-worthy (whether they won the award or not)?
I'll start off the discussion with with my own choice for top score (it wasn't even nominated for an Academy Award)
Herrmann had an incredible track record for creating scores that, in terms of cinematic effectiveness, were note-perfect, from "Citizen Kane" to his iconic collaborations with Hitchcock ("North by Northwest" and "Psycho" rank right up there near "Vertigo," and "The Man Who Knew Too Much" isn't that far behind). But for communicative brilliance, it's hard to beat the "Vertigo" score.
I could go on and on, but this isn't about me. So, what do you think of my choice?
No wait, what I really meant to say is: What are your favorite film scores?
BALTIMORE SUN FILE PHOTOS OF 'AVATAR' AND 'VERTIGO'