I’ll leave it to Dana Stevens to suggest the best film music of the year. I just want to point out 5 scores that are worth your attention even if you have not seen and have no intention of seeing the movies they come from. (I haven’t, though I will definitely be seeing Tron: Legacy at some point.) What ties all of these films together is that they use music by “outside” composers, as opposed to the usual Hollywood specialists (your James Newton Howards, Hans Zimmers, and the like).
If two of these movies make you think I must be a 15-year old girl, well, we do have one of those in the house and that’s where I heard the scores...
Shutter Island. Martin Scorsese hosts an edition of “New Sounds” with music by Ingram Marshall, John Cage, John Adams, Brian Eno, Max Richter and more. Seriously, most of this evocative, atmospheric, and often quite spooky music has inhabited my long-running new music show here at WNYC for many years. Scorsese has keen ears, as he’s proven before; but this might be his most unexpected soundtrack.
Twilight Saga: Eclipse. The unavoidable movie juggernaut actually has one feature that I was glad not to avoid: the soundtrack. I’m not a big Muse fan, but a score with Metric, Florence & The Machine, Bat For Lashes with Beck, and Band Of Horses is good enough to outweigh a fair amount of overemoting pop/rock.
Scott Pilgrim Vs The World. After the second time I asked my daughter what was playing on her computer and being told it was from the Scott Pilgrim soundtrack, I finally wised up and listened to the thing. After I found it, that is. Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich did the actual “original score,” which is pretty nice but doesn’t rock like the separately-released “original soundtrack.” This latter disc includes songs by Frank Black (the Pixies), Metric (again), Broken Social Scene, and the songs Beck (again) wrote for actor Michael Cera’s on-screen band.
Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps. Oliver Stone surprisingly chooses the songs of David Byrne, mostly but not exclusively from his most recent collaboration with Brian Eno, Everything That Happens Will Happen Today. Most Byrne fans will have all these songs already, but using all of them in the score here is almost enough to make me want to see the film.
Tron: Legacy. The producers wisely tabbed Daft Punk, the French electronica duo, to follow in the footsteps of Wendy Carlos, the groundbreaking synth player who did the original Tron score in 1982. The score came out last week and has echoes of Tangerine Dream as well as some surprisingly effective orchestra, or quasi-orchestral music.
What soundtrack caught your ear this year? Leave a comment.