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The Big Wrap Up  

Steve's Note Highlights

“ 'Transformers', man! Can I praise it too much?

"...even second rate direct-to-video films can still shine in the score department..."

“Last Mimzy” was disappointing in that folks wanted to hear something especially akin to “Lord of the Rings” again, and didn’t get it for this sci-fi/fantasy mix-up."


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Most Memorable Theme

I stand by my review of “Transformers”, Jablonsky’s music, while bearing many of the Media Ventures (or whatever they’re calling themselves these days) thumbprints, is still legendary. It’s thrilling to hear that surge with Peter Cullen’s narration, and to see the Autobots roll up in the film—that’s memorable. I do enjoy “Pirates of the Caribbean” and the music matures nicely in the third installment, and “Amazing Grace” is likely the “adult” choice, here…but who says enjoying film music is all about being an adult?

Best Cue (on album)
“Transformers”, man! Can I praise it too much? I suppose I can. Still, I love the jaunty “Up is Down” piece from “World’s End”. “Beowulf” theme is a little Ladyhawke-ish (and that’s not necessarily a bad thing), and I enjoy hearing that real “ass-kicking” heave-ho music.

Surprise of the Year
I think I’d seen the DVD for “George and the Dragon” in the deep-discount used bin at Blockbuster, so I could only figure that the quality of the film left something to be desired. (It’s sad that the actors get enough money out of doing such projects that they could pay off my student loan, twice.) But, even second rate direct-to-video films can still shine in the score department (even Horner got a breakthrough doing Roger Corman flicks!)  Stardust was a more maineam picture, and being a huge lover of the book, I was really looking forward to the score. While Eshkeri’s score does seem like it borrows from “Dragonheart” to “Lord of the Rings” to “Chronicles of Narnia”, he still manages to get something unique out of the effort.  I loved hearing Patrick Doyle do Action-Fantasy again.

Disappointment of the Year
Spider-Man 3 should have had a score release, which is disappointing in itself, but even seeing the picture, could not discern that the film itself really broke new thematic ground. There was a moment towards the end of the film that I really became aware of the score, but where was it during the rest of the film? Same ‘ol Spidey-Theme. S’all right, but…not enough. “Last Mimzy” was disappointing in that folks wanted to hear something especially akin to “Lord of the Rings” again, and didn’t get it for this sci-fi/fantasy mix-up.

Best Score Missed by Oscar
I’m not wholly sure by what standards a score is nominated for Best Score, and whether when the actual nominating procedure is in process whether they cut the initial nominations off at 5, (e.g., “That’s enough, this’ll be it folks! We can’t listen to scores all day to find the perfect five nominations!”)….and also, why lately they seem to often pick the driest films….I suppose they can’t all be leitmotif and orchestral flourishes (nor would I expect them to be—3:10 to Yuma is quite good in its sparseness, though contrarywise, so is Ratatouille in its grand comic elegance.) Though, I do like to see something memorable win, and I think all of the choices here offer something memorable.

Best Score as Heard in Film
I didn’t see “I Am Legend”, so I couldn’t vouch for that, but all of these films are fun and the music stands out in them.

Best Score as Heard on Album
“Pirates” really makes for a great full-album experience, from “Hoist the Colors” to “Drink up me Hearties”, it’s a real rousing adventurous listen. “Stardust” is much the same way.

Best Score for Television
“Tin Man” had the luxury of being a very self-contained experience, so it has a good listening arc that doesn’t stretch over 13-20 episodes. “Battlestar Galactica” did retread some ground in the third season, but the climactic episode features a fantastic score which builds up to a powerful climax.

Best Score for Animated Film

The academy was on to something when they nominated Giacchino’s score for “Ratatouille”—it’s a score with heart. French heart (coeur), but heart none the less. The Direct-to-Video “Superman Doomsday” scored by former “Buffy”/”Angel” composer, Robert Kral, was an exciting score for a particularly dark storyline in the Superman mythos.

Best Dramatic Score
Hey, if Harry Potter’s getting more dramatic, I’m all for where this music is going. John Williams may have gotten the ball rolling on this franchise, but the development on this series gets better and better.

Best Action Score
Transformers had terrific action music, and John Powell’s continuation of the “Bourne” series retreads familiar ground, but maintains the excitement.

Best Cover Art
While not wholly practical for storing on the shelf, you have to be wholly amused at the Simpson’s whimsical doughnut packaging on its’ special edition. Win!  I’ve bought too many Star Wars albums…The Corellian Edition might be a really cool name for CD, and may have even been a good purchase for those who haven’t bought many/any Star Wars albums in the past, but yet one more Darth Vader cover? Ehh. Still, the Star Wars fan in me still kind of geeks out a bit, seeing it.

Disappearing Composer
John Williams, though his massive output the year before certainly earns him a rest, especially with the new Indiana Jones score for 2008…!

Breakout Composer

Nicholas Hooper, for certain, since he came out of pure obscurity and delivered something magical. (Dunno how Mark McKenzie got there…he’s been around for a while, now.)

Outstanding Composer
James Newton-Howard maintains a near-superhuman output of quality scores, so he certainly ranks above all, but the others here are always, always welcome, and have made outstanding and notable efforts this year in their own right this year, and hopefully will continue into 2008 doing more of the same!



Steve Townsley is a contributor at Tracksounds and also has his own online comic:  Caribbean Kangaroo


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