The nominees: 127 Hours: A.R. Rahman
How to Train Your Dragon: John Powell
Inception: Hans Zimmer
The King's Speech: Alexandre Desplat
The Social Network: Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross
My rankings and grades:
Dreamworks’ How to Train Your Dragon is a fresh, cute film about a lad and his dragon. From the very first couple of notes of the score (which begin as the film does), I thought “oh here we go ago, another standard boring Disneyesque film”, with an unequally uninspired score to match. But I was wrong, for, as soon as the narrator subverted my thoughts in his narration, the score also did, and went from cheesy to cheeky. There’s barely a scene in How to Train Your Dragon where music isn’t employed, but it never feels intrusive and its playfulness is an absolutely joy; listen to how the music modulates into schmaltz pastiche when the protagonist’s crush walks onto the screen. Exuberant, lively, and adventurous, John Powell has sculpted a score which embodies the film perfectly, and, in honestly, is a huge factor for why I enjoyed it so. He clearly had a huge amount of fun writing the score, and we as the audience share the enjoyment in listening to it. A.
(but don’t just take my word for it, check out the amaze tracks yourself! The Drowned Dragon / See You Tomorrow / The Vikings Have Their Tea)
02. Inception (Hans Zimmer)
03. The King’s Speech (Alexandre Desplat)
Alexandre Desplat, who also scored 2010’s Ghost Writer and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I, finds himself getting his fourth nomination in five years for his score to what is now, after recent DGA and SAG ensemble wins, the front-runner for Best Film come February 27th. His other three nominations have come for his music to films about a wily fox, a man who ages backwards, and, curiously enough, the Queen of England. But Desplat avoids doing what many composers must be tempted to do; go through their rolodex of old musical notes used for The Queen and bung it in to The King’s Speech, justifying that, they are, after all, “both about monarchy in England.” No, Mr Desplat is nothing if not original, and the music to The King’s Speech dances with wit and whimsy. On personal listening, the tinkling piano, the sparse use of woodwork and the orchestral melodies don’t delight quite as much as they do with the pictures, and it far from sits in my personal top 5 Desplat scores (that, for your information, would be Birth, Girl with a Pearl Earring, Syriana, Lust, Caution and The Upside of Anger) but in fitting in with telling of King George’s journey from zero to hero, they certainly fit the bill. B+.
04. The Social Network (Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross)
05. 127 Hours (A.R. Rahman)
Speaking of crap, Jesus. I don’t get any joy out of ragging on A.R. Rahman, he did, after all, produce what I consider to be one of the most ingenious scores of recent years in Slumdog Millionaire’s terrific soundtrack. But if The Social Network was just a mishmash of sad-sounding piano chords, 127 Hours was just a mish-mash of weird sounds, with a bit of acoustic guitar thrown in to try and evoke the eerie, ethereal effect. I was not won over; the music left me feeling as viscerally sick as much as the arm amputating. F.
Who will win: The Social Network (urgh)
Who deserves to win: John Powell for How to Train Your Dragon
Who deserved to be nominated: Alexandre Desplat for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows?? idk. On the whole, it wasn't the most memorable year for film scores. Pity. But John Powell's score to How to Train Your Dragon is absolutely adorable, and I'm actually quite pleased I forsaw this one getting nominated.