One of my favorite year-end tasks is compiling a list of what I think were the best albums of classic film and TV music to be released during the previous 12 months. First-time-ever releases (like Leonard Bernstein’s original On the Waterfront tracks), re-recordings (John Barry’s The Betsy), reissues on CD (Jerry Goldsmith’s Our Man Flint and In Like Flint LPs), expanded classics (Michel Legrand’s The Thomas Crown Affair) and box sets of great film and TV music (Elmer Bernstein’s Ava LPs, Star Trek: Enterprise) are all included. I chose 20, and had to drop five or six more that I really liked because of limited space. Thanks to all the producers and label execs who work so hard to keep us film-music buffs happy.
After last year’s messy, controversial disqualification of the song “Alone Yet Not Alone,” the Academy’s board of governors modified the rules associated with campaigning for Oscars for music. Here‘s the update, which indicates that the 240-member music branch is still divided about the issue. It’s in Variety‘s “Ultimate Awards Nominations Guide,” out this week, with some really fun artwork. Here’s what the print version looks like:
Howard Shore finally bids adieu to Middle-earth with his music for the sixth and final film in Peter Jackson’s series of adaptations of J.R.R. Tolkien novels. His estimated 14 hours of music for The Lord of the Rings trilogy, plus another seven or so for the Hobbit trilogy, may constitute some kind of record for a single composer at work on a film series… certainly one that required nearly 100 musicians and another 100 or so singers on each film. I interviewed Shore about this, and about how director Jackson and writer Tolkien have changed his life since he began this odyssey 14 years ago.
Every year we try and assess who has the best shot at a nomination for the original-score Oscar. Eight of the 12 profiles in this year’s Variety Oscar-music section are mine: Marco Beltrami, Danny Elfman, Michael Giacchino, Jonny Greenwood, Henry Jackman, Clint Mansell, Thomas Newman and Steven Price. (Colleague Tim Greiving penned the other four: Hans Zimmer, James Newton Howard, Gary Yershon, Mark Mothersbaugh.) Tim and I also collaborated on this year’s overview of Best Song possibilities.
This year’s big-screen epics demanded an aural equivalent: big orchestras and often big choirs. For the films Noah, Exodus: Gods and Kings and The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, the directors called on composers Clint Mansell, Alberto Iglesias and Howard Shore to supply appropriate music. For a story in this week’s Variety, I interviewed them and augmented their thoughts with historical perspective from author Stephen C. Meyer, whose new book Epic Sound examines the classic scores of the 1950s and ’60s.
Hollywood has always turned to composers from Europe, and elsewhere, in its search for great music for films. But increasingly, it seemed to my editors, the most acclaimed, and award-winning, scores for major studio films are being written by composers from outside our shores. So I interviewed five of this year’s crop of potential music nominees about the subject: Gustavo Santaolalla (The Book of Life), Antonio Sanchez (Birdman), Alberto Iglesias (Exodus: Gods and Kings), Johann Johannsson (The Theory of Everything) and Alexandre Desplat (The Imitation Game), along with Australian-born SCL president Ashley Irwin. This is the lead story in this week’s Global section of Variety.
Pharrell Williams is getting a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame this week, so Variety asked me to consider the singer-songwriter’s already wildly successful career in film music. Hans Zimmer, who has been something of a mentor to the “Happy” tunesmith, offers some fascinating insights into their collaborations in this story — and Williams responds with some thoughtful and gracious comments about his film-composer friend. Along the way they talk about films like Despicable Me, Man of Steel and The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Producer Reginald Hudlin also chimes in.