Top 10 Film Scores of 2012

Top 10

One of the joys of compiling a year-end list is revisiting film scores that I may have forgotten. With so many scores released over the last 12 months, it’s easy for one or more to slip through the cracks. As usual, some scores that I was sure would make my list didn’t. By all rights, Nick Urata’s sweet and charming RUBY SPARKS would be included, as would Dan Romer and Behn Zeitlin’s Cajun-flavored BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD. Danny Elfman had a busy year and his scores for FRANKENWEENIE and HITCHCOCK…

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9 Favorite Film Music Moments of 2012

John Carter

For this month’s “9 on the 9th” post, I wanted to focus on the smaller moments from this past year, those momentary thrills that can only be experienced by hearing film music in context of the film. While we all enjoy listening to film music on its own, I believe you have to hear it in its original context to truly understand the intent behind the music. This list does not necessarily represent the “best” scores of the year—I’ll give my take on that in a few weeks—and the scores…

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9 Favorite Presidential Film Scores

Presidential Seal

For all our real-time fascination with the Presidency, audiences usually show very little interest in cinematic portrayals of the Commander in Chief. Perhaps because we have either lived through the period and don’t want to watch it all play out again onscreen, or maybe the era is so far removed that we just don’t care. Whatever the reason(s), these film and TV portraits  provide meaty roles for actors and dramatic stories composers can sink their musical chops into. For this month’s “9 on the 9th,” we visit the Oval Office—real…

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CD Review: Skyfall


Only having recently watched all the Eon-sanctioned Bond films (most of them for the first time) and discovering their scores (also for the first time), I didn’t go into the new Bond film/score with any particular expectations other than being an admirer of Thomas Newman and director Sam Mendes. SKYFALL as a film is a thrilling entry in the franchise and a major return to (the new) form after the disappointing QUATUM OF SOLACE. In addition, Mendes and his screenwriters have raised the bar for future entries by creating an exciting thriller…

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CD Review: Cloud Atlas


Our lives are not our own. From womb to tomb we are bound to others—past and present. And by each crime and every kindness, we birth our future. David Mitchell’s “unfilmable” 2004 novel of six interlinking stories makes for a wild ride at the cineplex. As the stories cut back and forth (in a superb case study of film editing) and actors inhabit multiple roles, crisscrossing generations and sexes, you wonder how directors/scriptwriters Lana and Andy Wachowksi (THE MATRIX trilogy) and Tom Tykwer (RUN LOLA RUN) are going to pull…

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9 Favorite Movie Songs

Norma Rae

This month’s “9 on the 9th” post deviates a bit from the expected subject matter to focus on the combination of film music and lyrics. Over the years, movie songs have had their ups and downs. The best songs work within the film and/or encapsulate the story or an emotion. And there’s arguably no bigger marketing tool for a film than a hit song. With 85 years of movie songs to choose from, narrowing the list down to nine was, as usual, ridiculously difficult. There are arguably better crafted songs…

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50 Favorite Film Scores, Part 5: The Top 10

The Omen

If you’ve been following my posts all week, then you know that I’ve been celebrating my impending 50th birthday on the 19th (last pathetic notice, I promise) with 50 of my favorite film scores. The list, months in the making, turned out far different than I thought. It’s been educational, emotional, illuminating and, on occasion, stressful. You can hear and read more about the previous 40 scores here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4. If you don’t want to bother or if you just want a refresher, here…

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50 Favorite Film Scores, Part 4: #20–11


If you want to refresh your memory of earlier entries in the list, check out the past few posts—Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3. We’re coming into the home stretch but not just yet. Herewith are the next batch of some of my favorite scores… 20. THE GHOST AND MRS. MUIR (1947) [audio:ghostandmrsmuir.mp3] Bernard Herrmann goes romantic. The fantastical story of a young widow in love with a dead sea captain features arguably Herrmann’s most ravishing work (and Herrmann’s personal favorite). The score beautifully captures the crashing waves and…

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50 Favorite Film Scores, Part 3: #30–21

North by Northwest

If you’d like to catch up on the earlier installments, check out Part 1 and Part 2 of 50 Favorite Film Scores. Without further ado, on with the list… 30. TARAS BULBA (1962) [audio:tarasbulba2.mp3] You gotta love any movie that features Yul Brynner and Tony Curtis as father and son. It’s so unbelievable—and so Hollywood—that it almost works. There’s real chemistry between the two actors but the real star of the show is Franz Waxman’s thrilling music. Brimming with energy and Ukrainian gypsy exoticism, Waxman captures the vibrant atmosphere of…

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50 Favorite Film Scores, Part 2: #40–31

It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World

Yesterday, I began a week-long look at 50 of my favorite film scores. If you want to read about the background behind the project, check out the earlier post. The remaining scores will be covered throughout the rest of the week. Now, on with the next installment of 50 of my favorite film scores… 40. GONE WITH THE WIND (1939) [audio:gonewiththewind.mp3] Max Steiner’s classic score is made for the Technicolor sweep of the big screen. Anchored by arguably the most famous piece of film music ever written (if for no…

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