February 21, 2013
Academy Awards Mixtape
Movie music (and movies about music) had a banner year in 2012. You could have had six or seven nominees for Best Score at the Academy Awards this year, and not have exhausted the possible contenders. Here are the tracks from the actual nominated soundtracks plus a few extras, for fun.
- “Merida’s Home” from Brave (Patrick Doyle)
Gotta love the Scottish flute. Not an Oscar contender, but here’s an attractive tune from a movie that a lot of kids and their adults enjoyed this past summer.
- “The Race to the House” from Lincoln (traditional, arr. performed by John Taylor)
Traditional tunes get an airing in this comic cue from Stephen Spielberg’s Civil War epic.
- “Freedom’s Call” from Lincoln (John Williams)
For his 26th collaboration with Stephen Spielberg, John Williams revisits and deepens his Americana style. I hope he wins for this gorgeous score.
- “Pi’s Lullaby” from The Life of Pi (Mychael Danna)
Indian instruments, crooning vocals, electronics, and even a concertina combine to create an unearthly feel in this title track. Danna is one of the most versatile composers in Hollywood.
- “A Spy in Tehran” from Argo (Alexandre Desplat)
One of Hollywood’s most prolific composers (he wrote about five movie scores in 2012) grabbed a nomination for his imaginative use of Persian instruments in this spy thriller.
- “The Heroic Weather Conditions of the Universe, Part I: A Veiled Mist” from Moonrise Kingdom (Alexandre Desplat)
A gentler Desplat effort, whose use of Benjamin Britten classics would recommend it by itself. But Desplat has also delved into the spirit of those child-oriented works and come up with his own take on childlike innocence.
- “Jellyfish” from Skyfall (Thomas Newman)
Newman’s music for the latest James Bond action film is best in cues like this one, which is about building suspense more than illustrating action.
- “The Girl in the Birch Tree” from Anna Karenina (Dario Marianelli)
This cue is a plain rendition of a famous Russian folk tune that, in one of its many variants, also shows up in the finale of Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony.
- “Kitty’s Debut” from Anna Karenina (Dario Marianelli)
Another side of Marianelli’s score for this romantic tragedy, this is a waltz from a debutante ball, appropriately lively and lovely.
- “The Bathtub” from Beasts of the Southern Wild (Dan Rohmer, Benh Zeitlen, with The Lost Bayou Boys)
Tremendously inventive use of Cajun music is the hallmark of this score; I love the way the traditional music blends with the movie themes in the orchestra. Definitely a score that could have earned a nod from the Academy.
- “A Very Respectable Hobbit” from The Hobbit (Howard Shore)
That’s right, the hobbits are back. Break out the Scottish (or Irish) flute.
Michael Zwiebach is the senior editor/ content manager for SFCV. He assigns all articles and content, manages the writing staff and does editing. A member of SFCV from the beginning, Michael holds a Ph.D. in music history from the University of California, Berkeley.