I often ask myself what I consider the most important part of a film. Most of the time, the answer is the acting, the directing, the cinematography, all having to do with the visual aspect of film. But we often forget that an equally important part of the emotional experience is music. Music can be the force that drives a film, makes it more cohesive, and direct an audience through what they’re supposed to be feeling during certain scenes. This year was a particularly fruitful one in terms of film scores. I’m going to talk about a couple that really stood out to me.
1. Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross – The Social Network
Most people recognize Trent Reznor as the frontman of the band Nine Inch Nails. He and his frequent collaborator and producer Atticus Ross developed the dark, moody score for David Fincher’s Facebook film. The atmosphere that the music creates is perfect for the world that is portrayed in the film; these computer nerds are the new wave of a quest for power that has been around since Roman times. Reznor’s synthesized beats and ambient noises make the whole film seem very cool, stylish, and sleek. I would expect nothing less from these two.
2. Daft Punk – Tron Legacy
It’s well known that the French electronica duo Daft Punk produced the highly hyped score for Disney’s high-budget revamp of an ’80’s phenomenon. Anybody expecting a hit single like “One More Time” should stop looking now. This is NOT a Daft Punk album. It is a score for a FILM, and it provides the exact right amount of excitement and thrill that the action requires. The combination of the dazzling visuals and pulse-pounding beats makes the movie an enjoyable experience, even if the plot makes absolutely NO sense whatsoever.
3. Hans Zimmer – Inception
He’s back! The genius behind the Gladiator and Dark Knight scores has returned with another inspired work. The soundtrack to Inception is characterized by many by it’s distinctive BUMMMM sounds, but anybody who takes the time to listen to the entire soundtrack can find lots of subtle musical creativity. Knowing also that Zimmer produced the entire score based on an Edith Piaf song featured in the film greatly increases the already high amount of respect I have for this composer.
4. Clint Mansell – Black Swan
Clint Mansell is one of my favorite composers. His work on films like The Fountain and Moon I consider personally to be the most inspirational pieces of movie music I’ve come across. Whenever I need inspiration, I turn on Clint Mansell. He continues his stellar work with the score for Black Swan, adapted from the Russian composer Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake. Mansell went to a great deal of trouble to produce a score that thematically fit the message of the movie; he literally flipped Tchaikovsky’s work upside down, inverting it musically to produce the darker side of the pieces, the Black Swan. The amount of work that he did deserves recognition.
I’ve also heard that James Newton Howard’s score for the Last Airbender is quite good, although I have not personally listened to it. I’m sure many of my recommendations will be ignored by the academy, but this is my dream team for nominations this year.
– Daniel Perea