Amongst film buff there are some people who obsess over film composers and buy lots of score CDs and then there are some people who rarely even think about or notice background scores. Unfortunately I’m closer to the latter camp. So I guess you should take my opinions here with a little grain of salt. This has been a challenging year to assess from a musical perspective in general. There have been a lot of noteworthy scores but very little consensus around any of them in particular.
- Captain Phillips: Captain Phillips isn’t really an action movie, but you wouldn’t know it from listening to its highly percussive score. The score is primarily credited to Henry Jackman, but rumor has it that it also has a lot of additional music by various other Hans Zimmer acolytes. Whoever is responsible for it, the music adds a lot of the film’s kinetic energy and wouldn’t have been out of place in one of Greengrass’ Bourne movies.
- Her: One of the best decisions that Spike Jonze made in the production of the film Her was to make its world futuristic, but not too futuristic. As such a super futuristic techno score would have been inappropriate, and so would a more traditional film score. Instead he decided to focus in on the film’s emotional side and hire Owen Pallett and the band Arcade Fire to give the film a very contemporary indie-rock infused score that feels sincere, but not quirky.
- Man of Steel: John Willaims is always a tough act to follow, and for Man of Steel Hans Zimmer needed to do something that would be completely different from Williams’ iconic theme while still being bold and dramatic. What he came up with was, much like the film, a grittier and more modern theme that still had that hopeful grandiosity somewhere in its core just waiting to burst free.
- Oblivion: Director Joseph Kosinski seems to really like French Electronica music. He managed to get Daft Punk to do the music for his last movie and he got this less known (but apparently also famous) French band called M83 to do the music for this one. Their score skews more towards traditional film scoring than Daft Punk, but they do subtly add some electronic elements to their work which does make the music more propulsive and interesting.
- Trance: And in what’s proving to be something of a trend this year we look at yet another score by someone who isn’t a traditional composer. That’s not to say Rick Smith isn’t experienced, he has worked on a number of other Danny Boyle movies, but he is yet another electronica composer. While he’s gone for a sort of grandiosity before, here he’s trying to make the music exciting, but at times almost playful and ethereal.