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Best Film Score B-Sides

Oh how I would love to shove Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’ Gone Girl score down your throat. Or rather bursting through your ear drums. But, alas, on this occasion I don’t consider this a B-side as (like Gillian Fynn’s screenplay) this was up and around the top of the chart for months. The Academy still failed to nominate it this year, which suggests, although they fell for The Social Network’s score (or was that consolation voting?), they just prefer traditional film scores. I love traditional, but there is a whole lot more out there.

Again, this is a non-definitive list of 10 of the best film scores to come from movies in 2014. But I do, saying that, believe these compositions are some of the best of the year without doubt. Some would say they went under the radar, some would say they were the best scores around – and some would say both. I would say, for now, please listen to all of the following regardless. It seems music diversity is something of an issue too, unless of course your movie can ride the wave of awards season success. I’m not even sure any of the following were even close to an Oscar nomination.

Christophe Beck (Edge of Tomorrow)

Re-acquainting myself with Cristophe Beck’s highly charged score for Edge of Tomorrow (one of last year’s better action flicks), I perhaps was not aware how much the music wast a stand-out factor of the movie. What I realise is that the energy and pace of the movie actually owes a lot to the score, and to that end it certainly does its job. With echoes of Hans Zimmer’s work on Inception, Beck also gets credit for reminding us of what helped make James Cameron movies great in the eighties.

John Powell (How To Train Your Dragon 2)

Thankfully incorporating John Powell’s wonderful theme from the first Dragon movie, the sequel’s score appear to go even further. The film is somehow darker, and certainly more family-emotive, than the first, and the music accompanies this. Additionally, it also encompasses touches of old folk music (including a wonderful scene with a song performed three of the cast members) which help hit home the community bond and spirit of the story.

Rachel Portman (Belle)

Although Rachel Portman has been consistently composing traditional-sounding, but memorable, film scores for years (The Cider House Rules, The Lake House for example), there is still no other composer that really matches that sound. Her palette tugs at the heart-strings and lingers with you, somehow encapsulating both ends of the basic human emotional spectrum. Portman’s score for Belle is no different in it’s affection, and plays a huge part in the film, but never is it over-played. 

Garth Stevenson (Tracks)

In the great emptiness of deserts, and the vast range of isolated human feelings, Garth Stevenson’s score for Tracks could have been forgiven for filling the voids. It does not need to though, his remarkably apt music is a companion to us, the audience, as well as to Robyn Davidson’s (Mia Wasikowska) heroic journey. It is soothing and alluring when you listen to it on its own merit. A score as integral to the movie as the climate and the landscape Davidson has to walk through.

Rob Simonsen (Foxcatcher)

I have read somewhere that composer Rob Simonsen, in his collaboration with Foxcatcher director Bennett Miller, said something on the lines of less is more with regards to the film’s music involvement. As so it should be, the movie itself is stripped down to the bones in terms of the subject and execution of the narrative (and I say that as a good thing). Simonsen’s melodic work here is subtle, but extremely effective all the same.

Alex Ebert (A Most Violent Year)

Alex Ebert’s music in A Most Violent Year is brilliant partly because of it’s obscurity. Perfectly embellishing J.C. Chandor’s grounded crime story with eeriness and promise. Not only does the score remind you of those crime and gangster films from the seventies and eighties, but it feels at times like you are watching a classic western. It helps build the tension, as well as the struggles of the characters, at exactly the right level.

Jonny Greenwood (Inherent Vice)

Jonny Greenwood’s range of music for Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice plays on its own like progressive, aching drama films would, with its varying moods and tones. But it is subdued all the same, a separate entity from the movie’s more bizarre, wayward subject matter. Yet, somehow, the compositions still blend into each and every part of the movie they play against, underling ever inch or actual drama or intrigue that Anderson allows.

SQÜRL & Jozef van Wissem (Only Lovers Left Alive)

Okay so now we are getting to the really weird stuff with Only Lovers Left Alive. But worthy all the same. Dutch composer Jozef van Wissem and experimental rock band Squrl (partly formed by the film’s director Jim Jarmusch) is a mix of talents that really works. Especially in the film’s world of melancholy, hungry vampires. The score works in various vocals, guitar screeches, big beats, not to mention some haunting and relaxing melodies – depending on your taste of course.

Andrew Hewitt (The Double)

Andrew Hewitt’s music composition for Richard Ayoade’s The Double almost ventures into pure classical at times. The score for the most part woks well as a thriller soundtrack, but it is probably the shrieking violins that stand out. They tend to build adrenaline (thus adding to the mental tension) rather than matching the pace of the film’s narrative. And that works.

Mica Levi (Under The Skin)

Mica Levi’s stimulating score for Under The Skin goes exactly where the movie’s title suggest. Jonathan Glazer’s film is visually stunning, and he has met his match in the field of music composition. The score squirms around your brain, and wastes no time getting into your bloodstream. At the same time there is real pleasure in letting those sounds tap and turn and pulsate through your ears.


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