In preparation for Film & TV’s upcoming magazine crossover with Music, and in honour of another memorable year for film, Impact takes a look at some of the film score highlights of 2014…
(Note that’s score, not compiled soundtrack, so there’s no Guardians of the Galaxy in here – don’t write us any e-mails, don’t send us any letters…)
Under The Skin – Mica Levi
While much of the film music buying public was enamoured with the Guardians of the Galaxy mixtape and Philip Glass-aping Interstellar (both were admittedly solid in their own right but, respectively, disjointed and derivative), the most memorable and distinctive score for a science fiction film this year was for critics’ favourite Under the Skin. Unique doesn’t begin to describe the singular approach Levi took, the string dissonance sawing over mechanised bass and percussion genuinely alien to the usual approach to scoring film.
The Double – Andrew Hewitt
Inexplicably considered a slightly weaker sophomore feature by Richard Ayoade following Submarine, the in-fact remarkably assured claustrophobic masterpiece owes much of its resonance to the Hitchcockian score. The dichotomous strings, by turns suspenseful and mournful, strikingly mirror the protagonist’s splintering mind state and existential crisis while the heavy piano sound provides some old-school melodramatic horror to this retrofitted, timeless Kafkaesque nightmare.
The Grand Budapest Hotel – Alexandre Desplat
The score to Wes Anderson’s eighth feature is as surprising aurally as the film was a mainstream hit, and Desplat (who also composed this year’s bombastic and more classical Godzilla) employs an array of eastern-European instruments to create brief, jaunty celebrations reminiscent of the Amelie soundtrack’s joie de vivre. Even the more solemn instrumentation (most notably the organ) is rendered sprightly and wryly amusing, not unlike the film itself.
The Congress – Max Richter
For the most part simply an above average soundtrack, The Congress earns its place in the upper echelon for 2014 in this writer’s eyes for approximately three distinct pieces of music – two of which weren’t even originally composed for the film. Ah well. ‘Beginning and Ending’ has an unsure yet noble grace, a bravura in the face of grief akin to Michael Nyman’s Greenaway scores, while ‘Winterreise’ is perfection, a flighty piece grounded by its use in one of the most hypnotising scenes of the year. Finally there’s ‘Forever Young’, an orchestral take on the Dylan classic with lead Robin Wright which is possibly the definition of divisive.
Gone Girl – Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross
The third pairing of Reznor and Ross for director David Fincher, the music of Gone Girl has been accused by some as being too similar to their previous collaboration for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo but is in fact a completely different beast. Described by Reznor as “music that artificially was to make you feel like everything is OK, but almost in an insincere way”, Gone Girl hovers uncomfortably in a sickly ambient space before sucker-punching you with (in)tense drones.
See this January’s issue (#234) for some of the Impact Film & TV’s favourite ever soundtracks, as part of our special crossover with Impact Music.