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Sonic Death Monkey Oscar Special

And the winner is GORE!
by Michael Collins

When I was looking over the musical score nominees for this year's Oscars my first thought was, hmm how did that one go again? I needed to be reminded what the music was like. After all, some of these films (unusually for Oscar nominees) were released many months ago. So if you are as forgetful as I am, come along and we'll revisit the music of this years Oscar score nominees.

Firstly, the nominees are:


Proving how much The Sonic Death Monkey team has got its finger on the pulse of musical trends within The Academy, we only reviewed two of the nominated films in the past year. We're just bucking the system, we are. We don't succumb to The Man when it comes to soundtrack reviews.

The first one we reviewed was The Passion of the Christ. Back in the original review I said that it was a sombre affair that felt dark and foreboding. Well the story of the last hours of Jesus's life ain't going to be a happy go lucky, you supply the liquor, I'll get the hookers kind of a thing now is it, and composer John Debney dramatically and emotionally captures the weighty tone of the tome that is The Passion of the Christ.

Whether or not you think the story of Jesus is fantasy or not, the approach of the film is of stark realism. This it is in stark contrast to most of the other films nominated for their scores which delve deeply into fantasy and imagination.

Clipped violins, harps, and flutes feature on Finding Neverland and it is playful and light. It is also romantically English as the music conjures up images of a pleasant English park or meadow. This is even the case in the sadder themes.

The music has an exotic streak and pulls on the heart strings as much as the film itself does. There's hints of a Spanish guitar and the yo-ho-ho-ing of a pirate's life. It's a fun listen.

The Prisoner of Azkaban has an air of familiarity about it and that might count against it on Oscar night. There's variations of themes that have been heard before and so perhaps lack the impact one might be needing on Oscar night to score victory.

The big brass sound from the larger horns gives an English feel once again to the music. There's a swirly flying nature to the music. The violins sound like they are virtually flying out of the hands of the musicians. Sounds just right for a film about a wizard.

The other nominated film that caught the SDM team's attention last year was Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events. Thomas Newman was in fine form with this one. It's superior to the similarly themed Azkaban. Newman's style is all over this score and it's all the better for it.

The score is sparse at times. This shows that Newman is letting the music breathe.

It's top notch and is the one I would hope would win on Oscar night.

Which leaves us with The Village. I don't actually share the pathological hatred that some have of M. Night Shyamalan's films. You can put forward a good argument for his dodgy writing ability, but he has real talent as a director. He's very old school in his pacing and mood setting and I really enjoy that.

The Village's score by James Newton Howard is lush and deep. It has a nice unique feel about it. While the Azkaban and Snicket want to playfully frighten you Village instead wants to genuinely engage your emotions. Shyamalan wants to manipulate you (perhaps unjustifiably), and this music goes a long way in achieving that. This is a good solid score that is thoughtful and provocative

With the common theme of fantasy, the one that stands out is The Passion of the Christ. The others will cancel each other out and the winner will be John Debney.

link directly to this feature at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/feature.php?feature=1354
originally posted: 02/16/05 05:59:12
last updated: 02/16/05 06:01:51
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