For Variety‘s final roundup of potential award nominees in the music categories, I covered nine scores and broke them down into three categories: Suspense (Michael Abels’ Get Out, Patrick Doyle’s Murder on the Orient Express, Carter Burwell’s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri); films that centered on families (Jon Brion’s Lady Bird, Randy Newman’s The Meyerowitz Stories, Marcelo Zarvos’ Wonder); and music for animation (John Powell’s Ferdinand, Mychael and Jeff Danna’s The Breadwinner, Michael Giacchino’s Coco). It certainly was a diverse and fascinating year for original music in films.
It must be awards season, because the screenings are now nonstop and I’m being asked to conduct composer Q&As almost every week. This week it was the new Disney/Pixar film The Good Dinosaur, which has a unique score by composers Mychael and Jeff Danna; the Society of Composers & Lyricists sponsored the well-attended screening. The Montana-like landscapes helped inspire them to create a folk-style score that includes fiddles, guitars, hymn-like piano and other “Western” sounds (along with the usual 85-piece orchestra for the bigger, grander moments in the score). The Dannas were, as always, thoughtful and gracious. Here, too, is my on-camera interview with them for SoundWorks Collection.
For Variety’s first awards-season section on potential Oscar contenders in music, I interviewed Harry Gregson-Williams (The Martian), Daniel Pemberton (Steve Jobs) and Johann Johannsson (Sicario) about their use of technology in music-making: The Martian combines electronics with traditional orchestra and choir, Steve Jobs a unique three-part approach including 1980s synthesizers, Sicario extensive processing of acoustic sounds. A second story concerns composers Mychael and Jeff Danna creating a surprising and unusual soundscape for Pixar’s upcoming The Good Dinosaur.