Sammy Cahn

2009 Sammy Movie Music Awards

For the past 22 years, Roger Hall, film music historian, author of A Guide to Film Music, and editor-in-chief of Film Music Review has handed out annual awards for the best in film music. The Sammy Movie Music Awards are dedicated to legendary lyricist Sammy Cahn, who, in his extraordinary career, was nominated for 26 Academy Awards for Best Song, winning four–the title song to THREE COINS IN THE FOUNTAIN (1954, music by Jule Styne), and three with regular songwriting partner, composer James Van Heusen, “All the Way” from THE JOKER IS WILD (1957), “High Hopes” from A HOLE IN THE HEAD (1959), and “Call Me Irresponsible” from PAPA’S DELICATE CONDITION (1963).

sammycahn1 2009 Sammy Movie Music AwardsThe awards are based on CDs released or reviewed in 2009, and winners are presented with certificates. In keeping in tandem with the theme of the site on which they are housed,, many of the awards celebrate vintage scores.

Over the course of the awards, the categories have fluctuated, no doubt reflecting the changing tenor of the film music industry (or maybe just Roger’s personal whim). And oddly enough, for an award named after a songwriter, there is no Song award this year (not the first time this has happened).

The winners of the 2009 Sammy Movie Music Awards are:

  • Best New Film Score – Winner: UP (Michael Giacchino); Honorable Mention: THE TWILIGHT SAGA: NEW MOON (Alexandre Desplat)
  • Best Overlooked Film Score – CAPTAIN ABU RAED (Austin Wintory)
  • Most Overrated New Film Score (new category) – AVATAR (James Horner)
  • Best Golden Age Film Score (1930s-1950s) – THE CHARGE OF THE LIGHT BRIGADE (Max Steiner; Tribute Film Classics)
  • Best Silver Age Film Score (1960s-1970s) – TIME AFTER TIME (Miklos Rozsa; Film Score Monthly)
  • Best Bronze Age Film Score (1980s-1990s) – TWILIGHT ZONE: THE MOVIE (Jerry Goldsmith; Film Score Monthly)
  • Best Vintage Compilation: A JOHNNY MANDEL TRIO (The Americanization of Emily; The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming; The Sandpiper; Drums of Africa) (Film Score Monthly)
  • Best Newly Recorded Vintage Film Score: EXODUS (Ernest Gold; Tadlow)
  • Preservation Award: Anna Bonn, John Morgan, and William Stromberg of Tribute Film Classics
  • Lifetime Achievement Award: Aaron Copland

Kudos to Roger for recognizing those vintage scores that often get overlooked in the scramble of new film scores every year. For more information on the Sammys, including audio clips from and links to Roger’s reviews of this year’s winners, visit the Sammy Movie Music Awards homepage.

About Jim Lochner

Jim has been writing about film music for over a decade. He holds a Bachelor of Music from The University of Texas at Arlington and a Master of Music from The University of Texas (Austin), both in Clarinet Performance. He has written soundtrack CD liner notes for Intrada, Varèse Sarabande Records, Film Score Monthly, La-La Land Records and Disques Cinemusique. Jim has been a bimonthly guest on BBC-Kent’s Drive Home at the Movies radio program and has been interviewed by a number of online and print outlets, including The Toronto Globe and Mail and the Los Angeles Times. Jim served as the managing editor of Film Score Monthly Online ( and is currently writing a book on Charlie Chaplin's film music. For more information, visit


  1. “Most Overrated New Film Score (new category) – AVATAR (James Horner)”… Upon reading that, I went into a laughing fit.

    • It made me laugh a bit as well. I’m not sure how valid actually having the category is, but these are Roger’s awards and he can do what he wants. And I certainly won’t disagree with that one.

      • Desmond Maley

        Seems odd to give a lifetime achievement award to someone who is deceased. Aaron Copland died in 1990. Is there no one living who deserves it.

        • Hi Desmond, thanks for commenting. I see your point. And, yes, there are definitely composers worthy of that honor. Thankfully, I just report the details and don’t have to be involved in voting. :)

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