It’s that time again! Check out this year’s Oscar Nominees in the Best Original Score and Best Original Song categories with my annual mix! I’ve selected roughly 11 minutes from each of the scores, so that in less than an hour you can get a taste of all five nominees, and also check out all five song nominees, as well.
We’ve got the droning atmospherics of “Sicario”, the thematic and well-known hummability of “Star Wars,” multi-national patriotic flourishes mixed into Newman’s traditional style in “Bridge of Spies,” the minimal and delicate “Carol,” and the dark-Western Italian-mentality of “The Hateful Eight.” It’s a solid (but not shocking or *crazy*) group of nominees this year.
Whether or not you agree with the Oscars (I often don’t) or think these are the five best scores of the year (I definitely don’t), it’s always interesting to see what’s nominated, hear some scores you might not’ve otherwise, and, if nothing else, you’ll be personally knowledgeable about these two categories if you watch this year’s broadcast!
Adam’s “Best Movies of the Year” list is in this week’s CITY Newspaper. He saw SO MUCH stuff this year (seriously: over 300 films) and he gave this TONS and TONS of late-night, compare-and-contrast thought. Read it at: http://goo.gl/qN70XK
As a lover of movies in all genres, he tries very hard to leave baggage at the door, see films for what they are, what their intent was, and how they compare with other similar works. In short: every film is given the chance to tell a story, find its voice, and be a work of either great entertainment, great art, or, in the best scenarios, do both; whether it’s a soft-focus European art film or a guns-a-blazin’ popcorn action flick. He’s fantastic at getting inside the filmmakers’ intent and giving every film a fair chance, hopefully letting them surprise him in the best possible way.
Critics get a bad rap, but Adam works super hard to be fair, give credit where credit it due, but also state disappointments… not because he wants to tear anyone down, or because he purposely sees films he knows he won’t like, but because he wants to see everyone get better and make great work. It’s admirable, difficult to live up to, and I’m immensely proud of him (I’ve posted a copy of his Top 15 list on the outside of my City Hall cube, as seen in the above photo, and it’s already inspired some discussion).
Pick up a copy of the paper and give it a read. Or click the link, give it a Facebook “like” on the article, and post a comment! You don’t have to agree (everyone’s “Best of the Year” list SHOULD be different, since we all have different interests!) but hopefully it’ll encourage you to check out a film you may have missed, or give a second-chance to something you purposely passed on.
In the grand tradition of Hollywood teasers where none of the film has been shot yet, this teaser came together over two nights, shot just for this. Anna, Adam and I put together the items for Anna’s cloak from pieces we bought at a thrift store and craft store, the drink is mead (to keep the actress happy), and the wall is the bedroom of our apartment (I didn’t realize it was so gross-colored).
Merry Christmas Eve! It’s been 5 years since my last Christmas-themed score mix, and I’ve heard so much great stuff since then I decided it was time for another! “More Scores of the Season” contains 80 minutes of Christmas-y, holiday, and snow-related score tracks, many of them putting a new spin on Christmas staples, carols, and the Nutcracker Suite.
From the super festive (Bruce Broughton’s “Eloise at Christmastime”, William Ross’ “A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas”), to the more somber (John Debney’s unreleased work from “I’ll Be Home for Christmas”), from nostalgia-filled (Johnny Mark’s iconic tunes from the “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” special, Jerry Goldsmith’s classic themes from “Gremlins”), to the darker side of the holidays (Shirley Walker’s “Turbulence”, Douglas Pipes’ end titles from this year’s “Krampus”), and a bit of everything in between (Nigel Westlake’s “Babe”, Christophe Beck’s “Frozen”), the mix runs the gamut. It’s good “last-minute-wrapping” music. wink emoticon Give it a spin and break out the ‘nog!
Our trivia team headed to Powers Farm Market in Pittsford, an annual tradition for many of us. I shot twophotos, and made this little video. One of these years I’ll actually go on the hayride.
Not pictured: the revelation that the sugar cookies Adam & I love actually come from Leo’s Bakery in East Rochester. Now to decide whether we continue eating them only once a year, or break the long wait and enjoy them more often.
Casper is the film that gave me a multifaceted view on death.
I’d certainly thought about death before Brad Silberling’s 1995 film — like everyone else, I’d experienced the loss of pets and relatives — but I hadn’t actively tried to comprehend what dying meant. It was something sad that happened, but it was part of life’s cycle: people were here, and then they weren’t. So it’s impressive that, for a mid-90s family film, there’s a fairly constant feeling of melancholy-mixed-with-wonder that runs through Casper that touched on many aspects of life-relating-to-death I hadn’t yet dug into: even if someone means a lot to us, memories are sometimes beyond our control; that regret and closure are not always within our grasp (explored further in The Sixth Sense and What Dreams May Come); that understanding and enlightenment may never happen; and that death can equally be about fear and sadness, but also beauty.
The film’s tone bounces around too much for some (at times wildly slapstick, at others extremely sincere and saccharine), but it was a defining movie of my pre-teen years because of the emotional response I had to it. At the core of that, of course, is James Horner’s wonderful score. There are fun moments of big band and jazz, some gothic touches of organ and harpsichord, and even some interesting “ethereal” sound design. But holding it all together is one of the most melancholy melodies ever put to film: “Casper’s Lullaby.” Sad, yet wistful; regretful, yet full of quiet awe, the theme has forever cemented itself in my mind as a musical interpretation of painful sadness; a melody of death. Hearing it instantly brings me near tears.
I’ve always been in awe of music’s ability to elicit emotion at a very basic, core level. James Horner had that kind of creative power. With his scores, subpar movies became passable; good movies became great. Along with John Williams and Danny Elfman, Horner was one of the three composers with the most influence on my childhood: The Rocketeer, The Land Before Time, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, Jumanji, andThe Mask of Zorro all had music that affected me and played a big part in my initial soundtrack-education (heck, even this oft-forgotten blog of mine is named “Danger Motif” after Horner’s most notorious recurring musical idea). This list doesn’t even including Horner’s best-known, highest-regarded works for films like Braveheart, Titanic, and Avatar!
Consistent and creative, Horner was a titan in the history of film composing and my own childhood would have been completely different without him. The influence he’s had, the emotions his work has caused: it’s almost impossible to comprehend the effect his music has had on the world. In his honor I’ll queue up “Casper’s Lullaby” and softly weep with a mix of sadness and wonder.
Break out the party horns: the new Tricerabration trailer is here! Join Mr. DNA and the Party Scientists for 6 minutes of dinosaurs, SCIENCE!, and information on what you’ll need to bring to Tricerabration on June 13! Are you ready for the greatest dinosaur-themed event this side of the Cretaceous period? WE SURE ARE!
(Special shout-outs to Matt A. for his fantastic performance as the voice of Mr. DNA, and Paul and Kevin for loaning us the lab coats.)
While visiting Brian & Alana in Missouri, we frequently passed a local roadside attraction called Santa’s Magical Kingdom – a campground decked out in hundreds of thousands of lights for the holidays. Immediately deciding we wanted to visit for a kitschy good time, Brian’s Dad agreed to drive his pickup truck, while the four of us huddled under sleeping bags in the back, for the self-guided driving tour through the displays. We never could have anticipated how horrific and bizarre the whole thing was, though: weird, hand-painted cartoon characters with strange proportions, terrifying creatures with dead eyes, warnings of elf-attacks, and old-timey Christmas music played off-key and echoing somewhere in the distance. In short: we entered a holiday horror movie, and somehow escaped with our lives. I shot video of the experience, so this is pretty much a twinkle-light-filled Blair Witch Project.
Adam & I stayed home to watch this year, just the two of us and a warm bowl of delicious, delicious poutine (thanks Rachel, for the ‘curds!). I’ve been wildly indifferent on this year’s films (and thus, Oscar nominees) overall, so my heart wasn’t in it for the flicks, for once. Here are my stray observations from this year’s pretty zippy Academy Awards telecast…
I don’t have any strong feelings on Billy Crystal as a host. I don’t think I was old enough when he started to be really attached to him from a nostalgic standpoint, but I felt like like his jokes were slightly harsher “digs” than I expected from him as a comedian. Also 3 guys win “Best Documentary” and their mic gets cut off, but Crystal can mug for the camera and wait for the entire room to go silent continuously without problem? That said, we did avoid last year’s tragically disappointing Franco/Hathaway train wreck, so there’s that.
I love Emma Stone (but only platonically, so @_WillieClark doesn’t punch me). She just seems to be having the time of her life in everything she does.
People I know seem (rightly so) still confused on the difference between “Sound Editing” and “Sound Mixing.” In plain English, from In Contention: “Sound editing […] concerns the manifestation of artificial sound effects and the overall manipulation of the sonic identity of a film.Sound mixing concerns the balance of those various elements, in addition to music and dialogue, as well as the on-the-set maintenance of production audio.” Now you know!
Similarly, I’ve also seen a lot of people asking about why there are only 2 “Original Song” nominees this year. The short answer is because the music branch is stupid and continually makes the rules stricter and stricter. The longer answer is that there are a lot of criteria the songs have to meet, including a rating system. This year the branch apparently only decided 2 were worthy. (Read a slightly more detailed account of the rationale over at Forbes)
That said, “Man or Muppet” is my new theme song and I think it’s awesome, so I’m totally over the moon about Bret McKenzie’s win.