Listening to the Original Scores

By James A. Molnar TGK Editor My favorite part about movies as a kid was the score. Instead of buying pop music, I was buying soundtracks....

By James A. Molnar
TGK Editor
My favorite part about movies as a kid was the score. Instead of buying pop music, I was buying soundtracks. John Williams, composer extraordinaire of sweeping themes from "Star Wars" to "Schlinder's List" to "Jurassic Park," emerged as my favorite. Another favorite, Jerry Goldsmith, the mastermind behind the "Star Trek" theme, was most known in my family as the composer for "Rudy" — a score with drive and emotion. Interestingly enough, Goldsmith composed "Fanfare for Oscars" in 1998 for the Academy to be its official theme, part of which was played during the nominations announcement.

With this year's group of five Original Score nominees, the Academy picked a quality representation of scores from 2010. While the absence of "TRON: Legacy" was saddening, the inclusion of "Inception" and "The Social Network" was refreshing.

Here is a look at five nominees and a highlight from their soundtracks.

'How to Train Your Dragon'
"Test drive" is one of the best tracks on the album. It perfectly captures the adventure of the animated feature. John Powell — a British composer behind scores for "Face/Off," "The Bourne Identity" and "Shrek" (with Hans Zimmer) — is up for his first Oscar. While a win is unlikely, it is certainly not undeserved. Steve Pond recently interviewed Powell, who said he was "certainly trying to get a bit more epic." Powell continued: "I remember feeling that this is a Viking movie, after all, and we can afford something a bit more grand and epic." Powell succeed and created a moving score.


For a limited time, you can listen to the whole soundtrack online here.

'Inception'
Christopher Nolan's screenplay provided for endless conversation and speculation about the mind-bending story. So too did Hans Zimmer's score, which enthusiasts theorized about after a YouTube video surfaced comparing the pulsating score to Édith Piaf's classic song “Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien.” Zimmer's haunting score worked wonders for the film, adding a sense of timeline to the movie. "Dream Is Collapsing" may be the best-written movie track of the year. The nuance in the layers of music is stunning — listen carefully around 1:30 for an example.


For a limited time, you can listen to the whole soundtrack online here.

'The King's Speech'
This may be the year for an Alexandre Desplat win. After all, 2010 was a great year for the composer. He scored five movies, including "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallow Part 1" and "The Ghost Writer," the latter of which may be his best work of the year according to this listener. This is his fourth Oscar nomination in five years, and he by all means deserves it. The royal score is smooth and deliberate. The music and visuals of "The King's Speech" work splendidly together. The title track, "The King's Speech," is mellifluously enjoyable.


For a limited time, you can listen to the whole soundtrack online here.

'127 Hours'
A.R. Rahman blends various styles of music that coordinate well with the film, especially when the brilliant editing comes into play. While a perfect complement to the movie, this score did not stand out to me as much as Rahman's Oscar-winning score for "Slumdog Millionaire." "Liberation Begins" gives a glimpse of the struggle ahead for Aron Ralston, played by James Franco.



'The Social Network'
The most intriguing soundtrack of the year goes to "The Social Network." Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross blend classic styles of music and almost futuristic pulses with a gritty undertone. An Oscar win for the team, known for their work in Nine Inch Nails (Reznor, the leader, and Ross, a producer), would not be reaching. "In Motion" may be the most entertaining track of the year. The song's energy and techno fluidity, especially in the beginning, are delightful.


For a limited time, you can listen to the whole soundtrack online here.


All five scores speak to a range of storytelling styles through music. If this is a harbinger of things to come, this soundtrack buff can't wait to hear what's next.

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The Gold Knight - Latest Academy Awards news, predictions and insight: Listening to the Original Scores
Listening to the Original Scores
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The Gold Knight - Latest Academy Awards news, predictions and insight
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