The LAMB Devours the Oscars – Best Original Score

by Dylan · February 9, 2009 · LAMB Devours the Oscars · 1 Comment

Editor’s note: Welcome to the twelfth of a 24-part series dissecting the 81st Academy Awards, brought to you by the Large Association of Movie Blogs and its assorted members. Every day leading up to the Oscars, a new post written by a different LAMB will be published, each covering a different category of the Oscars. To read any other posts regarding this event, please click the tag following the post. Thank you, and enjoy!

By TC from Popcorn N Roses

Best Original Score. Wow. As much as I love music, I thought this would be a fun topic to cover for the Oscar blogfest. And the music is great. But…I started thinking…

I said to myself, “Self, you haven’t seen all of the nominees for Best Original Score. How are you going to talk about them?”

Well, I’ve decided to think about them in musical terms. Having only seen two of the five nominees thus far, I will give my take on the film scores as musical form.

And Away We Go…


Desplat brings an interesting touch to this score. He has a style which at times reminds me of legendary film composer Nino Rota, such as in “Dying Away”, using some clashing melody lines here and there, while still making the piece listenable and enjoyable. Then there are pieces like “Meeting Again”, which have a very Mark Knopfler feel to them, strong and yet sublimely ethereal. Both help make the score as a whole one of the most enjoyable I’ve heard in some time. The blending of unique styles help bring life to what is a very unique movie, with its twist-in-life’s-balance storyline. If my Marquee Mix Scores channel was still up and running, no doubt a good deal of these pieces would make their way onto my play lists.

DEFIANCE – James Newton Howard; Joshua Bell, solo violin

Thanks to the exquisite work by Joshua Bell, this score reminds me of two of my favorite scores of the past ten years, Tan Dun’s excellent scores for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Hero. The main title is very much a blending of the main themes from both of those movies, majestic and forceful. Its power is beautifully countered with my favorite track from the score, “Exodus”, a magnificent piece of work which evokes bittersweet images of heartbreaking choices and decisions that have to be made. The entire score comes together with its stark contrast of images, and helps you visualize what the refugees in the the film would be thinking about their situation.

MILK – Danny Elfman

I can’t believe that for once, Elfman has wrote a score that doesn’t sound like one of his earlier movies and isn’t filled with endless variations of his Simpsons theme music. Elfman has always tended to be in a rut where my tastes are concerned; if you heard one Elfman score, you’ve heard them all. Can you tell I’m NOT a huge Elfman fan? But this time is a welcome and pleasant exception. Granted, he has his “Simpson”-ey music with a short track called “Dog Poo”, but other than that, it is filled with less bombast and more sensitivity. If you hear the score without knowing what it is, you’re NOT going to be able to peg it as an Elfman piece. Some lovely shorter pieces lend themselves perfectly to their subject matter within the context of the film, and make you quickly like what he’s doing – using musical queues to trigger thoughts of the times and places that made Harvey Milk who he was. All in all, the BEST Elfman score since 1989’s Batman…and one I’ll listen to for years to come.


Let’s be totally honest now…how can ANYONE not be totally enticed to get up and dance by the infectious techno flow of music that is “Jai Ho”? Rahman’s the odds on favorite for the Oscar, since he’s won both the Golden Globe and the Critics’ Choice award for this work, and deserves every accolade he’s won. Teaming up with some of today’s hottest India Pop artists to put together the feel of contemporary Mumbai, Rahman’s efforts pay off in a BIG way. The largely techno-pop beat drives you to feel every vibration of the music, no matter how soft or hard the feel and how intricately huge or softly delicate the scene. This score is equally at home in the collections of people who love film music and those who love dance music. And Rahman’s sense of timing is spot on in every song. It’s NOT a fluke that he’s already collected several awards, because he’s going to collect several more, including possibly an Oscar. Infectious to the core, once you’ve heard it, you’re hooked. – you will NEVER be able to get this music out of your head…

WALL*E – Thomas Newman

Part of WALL*E‘s endearing charm is it’s surprisingly lush and majestic score, something you don’t usually get as part of a Pixar movie. Don’t get me wrong, most Pixar films have great scores, but this one soars miles above even the best of earlier movies. Newman is determined to make you remember that despite all that’s going on in the film, this is first and foremost a love story between two robots, WALL*E and EVE. From the lush and wonderful “Define Dancing” through the somewhat obnoxious “BNL” jingles (as they’re supposed to be), Newman’s work here defines “elegant” and you don’t often find that in an animated film. The addition of “Down To Earth” co-written by Newman and performer Peter Gabriel, only adds to the strength of the music as a whole, bringing the entire adventure – watching the movie OR listening to the score – to an apt conclusion.

There you are. A quick take on this years five nominees for Best Original Score.

But before I go, let me take a second to acknowledge three other scores which I thought were also worthy of nominations, but didn’t receive them.

The first of those is the score from THE DARK KNIGHT by Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard. No further explanation is needed.

The second one is Michael Giacchino’s marvelous score for SPEED RACER. Inspired by the music from the original anime, and expounding on it, Giaccchino gave us a score that was lush and brilliant throughout. I’ve listened to it more than any score since the Lord Of The Rings trilogy CD’s and that says a lot.

The third and final one is David Buckley’s overlooked score for THE FORBIDDEN KINGDOM. This film’s music again invokes feelings from the Lord Of The Rings trilogy, along with scores like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, and deserved to get more recognition than it did.

So I hope you’ll check out these three scores as well as the five nominees for Best Original Score. All five films are worthy of the award – it was a GREAT year for excellent scores. May the best score always be remembered as a classic that can be proud to take it’s place alongside the classic film scores of the past.

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