Mr. Cellophane

In a location adjacent to a place in a city of some significance, what comes out of my head is plastered on the walls of this blog.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

The film music of 2016.

My favorite scores of 2016:

(Danny Elfman - Disney)
Elfman's follow-up to his lush 2010 score is equally entertaining.
Best tracks: "Alice", "Watching Time", "Story of Time"

(John Williams - Disney)
A beautiful fantasy score from a man who, by now, could write them in his sleep.
Best tracks: "The Witching Hour", "Building Trust", "Sophie and the BFG"

(Michael Giacchino - Hollywood)
Fantastic entry into the Marvel universe, with some wonderfully off-kilter moments.
Best tracks: "The Hands Dealt", "Smote and Mirrors", "The Master of the Mystic"

(Carter Burwell - Disney)
Burwell gave the Disney adventure a lively score.
Best tracks: "I Hope You Didn't Kill Us", "Pendleton Push", "Safe Harbor"

(Fernando Velazquez - Quartet)
Engaging WWII score broods and soars like the best from that era.
Best tracks: "Absolute Perfection", "The Consul and Nikolai", "Gernika Under the Bombs"

(Marco Beltrami - Varese Sarabande)
Grandly bombastic music for the lavish guilty pleasure; one of Beltrami's finest.
Best tracks: "Set vs. Horus", "Wings and a Prayer", "God of the Impossible"

(Jeff Grace - Back Lot)
A thundering, Morricone-channelling Western score from the underrated Grace.
Best tracks: "Priests and Sinners", "Finding Abby", "Surrender and Standoff"

(John Ottman and David Buckley - Lakeshore)
Funky, clever score for the enjoyable neo-noir.
Best tracks: "Theme from 'The Nice Guys'", "Equanimity", "Cars That Drive Themselves"

(Brian Tyler - Varese Sarabande)
Another delightful bit of musical legerdemain from Tyler.
Best tracks: "Now You See Me 2 Fanfare", "Behind the Curtain", "Off the Grid"

(Michael Giacchino - Varese Sarabande*)
Giacchino provides another exciting entry in the franchise.
Best tracks: "Night on the Yorktown", "Franklin, My Dear", "Par-tay for the Course"

(Bear McCreary - Sparks & Shadows)
Marvelously creepy score for the confined thriller, highlighted by a striking main theme.
Best tracks: "Michelle", "Hazmat Suit", "The New Michelle"

(John Ottman - Sony Classical)
Powerful music that nicely makes up for the previous X-score.
Best tracks: "The Transference", "Split Them Up!", "Great Hero/You Betray Me"

(John Debney - Lakeshore)
Lovely score; not quite The Passion, but more hopeful.
Best tracks: "The Young Messiah Theme", "Severus Lets Jesus' Family Go", "A Son Named Jesus"

Other good scores:

Denial (Howard Shore), Elle (Anne Dudley), Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (James Newton Howard), Finding Dory (Thomas Newman), Gold (Daniel Pemberton), Hail, Caesar! (Carter Burwell), The Huntsman: Winter's War (James Newton Howard), Jackie (Mica Levi), Kubo and the Two Strings (Dario Marianelli), The Light Between Oceans (Alexandre Desplat), The Magnificent Seven (James Horner and Simon Franglen), A Monster Calls (Fernando Velazquez), Nocturnal Animals (Abel Korzeniowski), Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (Fernando Velazquez), Rogue One: a Star Wars Story (Michael Giacchino), The Secret Life of Pets (Alexandre Desplat) and Storks (Mychael and Jeff Danna)

Some great unreleased scores:

The Edge of Seventeen - Atli Orvarsson
Keanu - Steve Jablonsky and Nathan Whitehead
Whiskey Tango Foxtrot - Nick Urata

Here's the part of the post where I would mention the best specialty releases that the labels had to offer, or at least I would if I had been able to buy any of them this year. Instead, I'll just be listing the best and the rest of what I wish I had.

The best...

Arena (Richard Band - Intrada) - Pity that opportunities for Band to utilize orchestra dried up, but this interesting synth score made the transition a good one.

Batman: TAS - Vol. 4 (Shirley Walker and others - La La Land) - More engaging scores for the last part of the original run, as well as some interesting odds and ends.

Family Guy (Ron Jones and Walter Murphy - La La Land) - The show's been running on fumes for a while, but that's not the fault of the music, and it's nice to see the early scores get released.

Nick of Time (Arthur B. Rubinstein - La La Land) - I don't know who had to sell their soul to get us a Rubinstein CD, but I promise their sacrifice will not be in vain.

The Rescuers Down Under (Bruce Broughton - Intrada) - Legend has it that Broughton could've done Home Alone instead, but rather than wonder 'what if?', let's just bask in this rousing sequel score.

RoboCop 3 (Basil Poledouris - Varese Club) - Nobody's favorite RoboCop movie, to be sure, but Poledouris's music, including a pair of terrific new themes, gives it some legitimacy.

The Rocketeer (James Horner - Intrada) - If only to finally have the cue where Cliff puts on the rocket pack and the two main themes play simultaneously, this would be worth every penny.

The Shawshank Redemption (Thomas Newman - La La Land) - One of Newman's first Oscar nominations was well-deserved; an exceptionally touching opus.

The Twilight Zone (various - Intrada) - Much like its contemporary "Amazing Stories", this anthology show had a nice mix of vets and up-and-comers providing eclectic music.

Volcano (Alan Silvestri - Varese Club) - Not quite the 1997 Silvestri score I was hoping to see expanded, but a very exciting work, nonetheless.

...and the rest...

All I Want for Christmas (Bruce Broughton - Intrada)
The Awakening (Claude Bolling - Quartet)
The Chosen (Ennio Morricone - Beat)
Delta Force 2 (Frederic Talgorn - Intrada)
Dick Tracy (Danny Elfman - Intrada)
Fighting Back (Piero Piccioni - Quartet)
The Great Buck Howard (Blake Neely - La La Land)
The Haunted Mansion (Mark Mancina - Intrada)
Homeward Bound II: Lost in San Francisco (Bruce Broughton - Intrada)
The Monkey King 2 (Christopher Young - Intrada)
Ozzy (Fernando Velazquez - Quartet)
The Return of the Musketeers (Jean-Claude Petit - Quartet)
Santa Claus: the Movie (Henry Mancini - Quartet)
The Setting Sun (Maurice Jarre - Intrada)
The Snows of Kilimanjaro (Bernard Herrmann - Kritzerland)
So Fine (Ennio Morricone - Music Box)
Starship Troopers (Basil Poledouris - Varese Club)
Take a Hard Ride (Jerry Goldsmith - La La Land)
Trancers I-III (Mark Ryder, Phil Davies and Richard Band - Intrada)
Unidentified Flying Oddball (Ron Goodwin - Intrada)
venredi ou la vie sauvage (Maurice Jarre - Music Box)

A few extra notes...

- Though it was a reprint of an earlier article (something they'd been doing throughout the year), Collider's article about the '23 Most Exciting Composers Working Today' struck me due to the fact that I didn't recognize some of the names on the list (Norma Desmond's line about the idols being smashed and replaced by "some nobodies!" ran through my head). In the interest of fairness, I decided to listen to the scores of these 'nobodies' (seriously, how did we ever live before Spotify?). I've found that (to me, anyway) they have a ways to go before I'm seeing movies just because they scored it. However, Mica Levi's Jackie, with its beautifully woozy main theme, hints at interesting things.

- *Yes, I know that that's the cover art for the inevitable Varese Sarabande Deluxe Edition of Star Trek Beyond, but this has way more zing than the cover of the regular release, which feels like a placeholder cover until the design team could come up with something better.

- Still on the subject of STB:DE, my two favorite track titles have to be "Spock Speaks Hive" and "The Dreaded Rear Admiral". (And I'm tickled that, while bowing to pressure to come up with professional track titles for Rogue One, Giacchino provided the jokey ones in the liner notes. You can take the man out of the chain...)

- While it failed to make my best-of lists, I found Marco Beltrami's Ben-Hur far more interesting than others did, if not up to Gods of Egypt. I think most people just got pissy that it wasn't Rozsa; what he wrote was what was asked for. Seriously, are you people new to the current environment of film scoring?

- Conversely, people were enthused by Daniel Hart's Pete's Dragon, but I just didn't feel it. Maybe, I needed to experience it in the film.

- Because I'm a sucker for this stuff, two of my favorite cues of the year are "Ley Lines" from Ghostbusters and "Half Shell" from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows.

- Henry Jackman's score for Captain America: Civil War, while a step in the right direction, was a long way from a great superhero score. Even so, I couldn't help but notice a resemblance between one of the motifs and the Joshua theme from WarGames, only with a couple of bars added. Not sure where this originated from, short of the WarGames reference in The Winter Soldier.

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