Image: A Band Apart
“There’s a point where we just let the music take over everything.” ― Christopher J. Nolan
By Christopher Burns – Scores in cinema are often under appreciated, they can create or destroy a scene with the drop of a note. Many a scene has fell flat or been elevated by the movies composer, but what movie scores have really stood out in the 21st century? Guest writer, Christopher Burns takes a look;
10. UNDER THE SKIN
SCORE BY MICA LEVI (2014)
Mica Levi’s spectacularly disconcerting soundscape to Jonathan Glazer’s 2014 sci-fi horror drama is simply one of the most bold and remarkable pieces of cinematic music in recent years. As the film delved into themes of mortality to morality and pondered the question of what it means to be human, all the while Scarlett Johansson ate men in blustery Scotland, Levi’s utterly uncompromising wall of noise made everything about ten times more eerie and beautiful. Easy listening maybe not but the challenge is on to find anything quite as unique as this.
Key Track – Love
9. BLACK SWAN
SCORE BY CLINT MANSELL (2010)
Perhaps unlike anything on this list, the great Clint Mansell’s score for Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan (one of his sixth for Aronofsky ) is a grand, illusory fantasy nightmare fused with elements of Tchaikovsky’s original Swan Lake. Aronofsky’s story of sporting obsession that quickly descends into a hellish, psycho-sexual, body horror is one of the decade’s most visually arresting and disturbing movies and Mansell’s soundtrack stunningly captures the mental deterioration and lustful desire throughBernard Hermann-like classical bombast and the more malevolent and frightening ambient qualities of Mansell himself.
Key Track – Perfection
SCORE BY – JOHAN JOHANSSON (2015)
You know that persistent feeling of dread that ate away at you when you watched Denis Villenueve’s Sicario for the first time? Well a large part of that was thanks to Johan Johansson’s boomingly viscous and terrifying score. Johansson’s masterful soundtrack stalks the movie at every turn very eloquently but without ever really imposing itself too much. The Beast is exactly what it says it is; an ominous and looming warning that you won’t want to listen to on your headphones down a dark alley at night but it is the stunning Alejandro’s Song which perhaps captures the never ending tragedy and futility of the war on drugs which Sicario so wistfully gets right. Next up for Johansson is a reunion with Villenueve on the Blade Runner sequel. Get excited.
Key Track – Alejandro’s Song
7. THE HATEFUL EIGHT
SCORE BY ENNIO MORRICONE AND VARIOUS ARTISTS (2015)
When QT recruited movie score maestro; the very legend himself Ennio Morricone, to compose an original piece for his nasty western chamber piece where the results ever really in doubt? Of course not, the Tarantino and Morricone marriage is everything you ever wished for, as The Hateful Eight score is a grand and oh so definitively Morricone ode to the bleak nihilism of Tarantino’s blood sprayed snowy vistas. An absolute triumph of classic cinematic music.
Key Track – Overture
SCORE BY STEVEN PRICE (2013)
Steven Price’s Oscar winning score for Alfonso Cuaron’s Oscar winning technical marvel is at once a beautiful, heart-breaking and pulsating voyage into the merciless great beyond. Don’t Let Go is an 11 minute epic that captures everything from the wonder to the terror of Cuaron’s big B-movie extravaganza but the mournful and gorgeous Aningaaq is the soundtrack in all of its existential spectacle
Key Track – Aningaaq.
SCORE BY HANS ZIMMER (2014)
Zimmer’s fifth collaboration with Christopher Nolan is arguably his most left field soundtrack to date but also his magnum-opus (Sorry inception fans, it just is) his Interstellar score is an incredibly ambitious organ led opera, not unlike the film it often dominates, and with so many stand out tracks it’s hard to pin point just why it’s so breath-taking, but the awe inspiring, swooping theatre at the heart of the likes of S.T.A.Y and Cornfield Chase really do echo the magic and wonder of Chris Nolan’s most sincere paean to love and loss
Key Track – Stay
SCORE BY M83 (2013)
French electronica outfit M83’s synthy sci-fi serenade to Oblivion is perhaps more memorable (and significantly better) than the Tom Cruise film it sound-tracked but that’s not just entirely down to the movie being subpar. In what could be considered as one of M83’s finest works, this 30 song electric daydream captures the best of what makes M83 so great but also throws in some meticulously well-judged melodrama and stadium sized strings that will make a bus ride home from work feel like a trip to the great unknown.
Key Track – StarWaves
3. IT FOLLOWS
SCORE BY DISASTERPIECE (2014)
Disasterpiece’s brilliant electro score that accompanies David Robert Mitchell’s modern horror classic It Follows is a daring and original composition that captures all the paranoia and unease that one can imagine comes with being stalked slowly by an unstoppable evil entity that wants you dead. Like the film itself, the soundtrack is indebted to John Carpenter with its sudden synth shrills, ominous heavy percussion and wild shades of flamboyant neo-gothic tension and is definitely one you might want to consider listening to alone in the dark
Key Track – Title
2. GONE GIRL
SCORE BY TRENT REZNOR & ATTICUS ROSS (2014)
Reznor and Ross’s third collaboration with David Fincher is probably their most experimental but most earnest yet. In reflection of Fincher’s wonderfully morbid documentation of a millennial marriage succumbing to revenge and murder, Reznor and Ross’s soundtrack infests your psyche and slowly dismantles it with everything from soft, melodic and sorrowful piano to harsh strings to what kinda sounds like someone being hacked to death at a metal works. It may not be as iconic as their work for The Social Network but it wins its place here for its innovation and its downright beautiful weirdness. Who knew the dying wails of a modem could sound so good?
Key Track – Like Home
SCORE BY CLIFF MARTINEZ & VARIOUS ARTISTS (2011)
What else can be said that hasn’t been already for Cliff Martinez’s genre defining score to Nicholas Winding Refn’s neo noir classic? Whether it’s the blisteringly iconic funk opening of Kavinsky’s Nightcall, the heart-stopping, icy chill of The Chromatic’s Tick of the Clock, the 1980’s twilight hour love letter of College’s A Real Hero or Martinez’s dreamlike ambient onslaught that dominates the record, each track is curated perfectly to compliment the next. Pretty much a staple in every film fan’s record collection these days, it’s often weirder than you remember and maybe even more creepy than cool, after-all there is a NWR film at the heart of it, but the sheer iconic stature of it along with its seemingly endless longevity makes the Drive soundtrack the crucial movie score of the decade so far.
Key Track – Real Hero