Saturday, 16 January 2016

2015 ENTERTAINMENT JUNKIE SCORING AWARD WINNERS


BEST FANTASY/SCI-FI SCORE (6 NOM. + ADDITIONAL NOM.)
  • CINDERELLA - PATRICK DOYLE (WALT DISNEY RECORDS)
  • THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY PART 2 - JAMES NEWTON HOWARD (REPUBLIC ENTERTAINMENT)
  • ZHONG KUI: SNOW GIRL AND THE DARK CRYSTAL - JAVIER NAVARRETE (LAKESHORE RECORDS)
  • CRIMSON PEAK - FERNANDO VELAZQUEZ (QUARTET RECORDS)
  • PETER AND WENDY - MAURIZIO MALAGNINI (SILVA SCREEN)
  • JUPITER ASCENDING - MICHAEL GIACCHINO (WATERTOWER MUSIC)
  • STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS - JOHN WILLIAMS (WALT DISNEY RECORDS)
Whilst I didn't feel the the fantasy/sci-fi category had as strong a variety of contenders this year as it had in 2014, this award still proved difficult to award. Patrick Doyle and Javier Navarrete started off the year strong with two commendable scores in Cinderella and Zhong Kui, both majestic, sweeping fantasy forays that captured our imagination and transported us to another time. Fernando Velazquez' Crimson Peak, whilst perhaps the weakest of these nominees, still startled and unnerved us, Velazquez proving that horror scoring is still alive and well. James Newton Howard ended his Hunger Games franchise off strongly, with a rewarding, dense, challenging score, and Maurizio Malagnini offered the strongest Peter Pan score of the year, his multi-layered, frenetic compositions for Peter and Wendy a dazzling sight to behold. And who could forget John Williams' Star Wars: The Force Awakens; a score which I initially dismissed, but have since come to respect. It's not game-changing, nor is it nearly as captivating as some of its predecessors, but it is most certainly one of the finest sci-fi scores of the year. But the winner, Michael Giacchino's Jupiter Ascending, is a force of its own ilk. Despite minor issues regarding its recording and mix (evident in 'Jupiter Ascending - 3rd Movement'), it is by far the most impressive effort in this category. Its themes are memorable, the combination of both modernistic and classical styles is impressive, and it enthralls like very few others. In a year which belonged to Giacchino for so many, this is his most awe-inspiring work. 

BEST COMEDY SCORE (5 NOM.)
  • THE MARTIAN - HARRY GREGSON-WILLIAMS (CAPITOL RECORDS)
  • THE HATEFUL EIGHT - ENNIO MORRICONE (DECCA RECORDS)
  • SPY - THEODORE SHAPIRO (MILAN RECORDS)
  • PIXELS - HENRY JACKMAN (VARESE SARABANDE)
  • LA RANÇON DE LA GLOIRE - MICHEL LEGRAND (PLAYTIME)
In direct contrast to the previous category, the comedy genre had a much more diverse palette of laudable scores this year than in 2014, with Theodore Shapiro's dreadfully fun Spy, to Harry Gregson-Williams' inventive, clever score to Ridley Scott's The Martian numbering amongst the finest efforts in this genre. And whilst Ennio Morricone's score to Quentin Tarantino's eighth feature, The Hateful Eight, was another successful example of his capacity for stirring composition, it ultimately came down to two; Henry Jackman's Williams-esque, loud and showy Pixels, or the final victor, Michel Legrand's La Rançon De La Gloire, which, as Paul Cote put it, "sounds just as energetic and creative as his innovative jazz scores [from] his 1960s heyday". A well-deserving winner. 

NOTE: for those with objections, both The Hateful Eight and The Martian are listed on IMDb under the "comedy" tag. Further, The Martian is, at least to both my eyes and ears, a light-hearted comedy with extended instances of drama. Whilst I have not seen The Hateful Eight, I do know that Quentin Tarantino's style permits a copious quantity of both slapstick and dialogue-based humour to pervade his features. I would presume the same can be said of his latest.

BEST DRAMA SCORE (5 NOM.)
  • STEVE JOBS - DANIEL PEMBERTON (BACK LOT MUSIC)
  • SICARIO - JOHANN JOHANNSSON (VARESE SARABANDE)
  • WOLF TOTEM - JAMES HORNER (MILAN RECORDS)
  • MUHAMMAD: THE MESSENGER OF GOD - A.R. RAHMAN (SONY INDIA)
  • MACBETH - JED KURZEL (DECCA RECORDS)
The most difficult category to choose for, and the one which has the most variety in style. From Jed Kurzel's foreboding, textural, and malicious Macbeth, to the ridiculously cool, dark cellos of Johann Johansson's Sicario, to Daniel Pemberton's smart throwbacks to the sounds of the 80s and 90s for Steve Jobs, to A.R. Rahman's endlessly stunning and serene Muhammad: The Messenger of God, there was no lack of assortment here. But the winner, as was evident since early February, is undoubtedly James Horner's Wolf Totem. Its melodic sensibilities are dreadfully evocative, and Horner's rich, vibrant soundscape made re-listens inevitable. Truly one of the man's finest efforts since 2009's Avatar.  

BEST ACTION SCORE (5 NOM.)
  • THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E - DANIEL PEMBERTON (WATERTOWER MUSIC)
  • TAKEN 3 - NATHANIEL MECHALY (EUROPACORP)
  • MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE - ROGUE NATION - JOE KRAEMER (LA LA LAND RECORDS)
  • THE AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON - BRIAN TYLER & DANNY ELFMAN (HOLLYWOOD RECORDS)
  • ANT-MAN - CHRISTOPHE BECK (HOLLYWOOD RECORDS)
2015 hosted no shortage of meaty action scores. The superhero genre had plenty to offer, including the bombastic Avengers: Age of Ultron, stitched together by Earth's Mightiest Superhero Composers, and Beck's lighter, jazz-inspired Ant-Man. Also commendable are Nathaniel Mechaly's surprisingly beautiful, weighty Taken 3, and Daniel Pemberton's unequivocally stylish The Man From U.N.C.L.E (listening to it makes me want to pop on a nice suit, slip on some sunglasses, and cruise around in a slick sports car). But the winner, in all its fast-paced, visceral grandeur, is Joe Kraemer's appealing Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation, which served as one of the most entertaining listens of the year.   

BEST ANIMATION SCORE (6 NOM.)
  • INSIDE OUT - MICHAEL GIACCHINO (WALT DISNEY RECORDS)
  • THE GOOD DINOSAUR - MYCHAEL & JEFF DANNA (WALT DISNEY RECORDS)
  • THE PROPHET - GABRIEL YARED (WARNER BROTHER RECORDS)
  • UN GALLO CON MUCHOS HEUVOS - ZACARIAS M. DE LA RIVA (MOVIESCORE MEDIA)
  • PIRATE'S PASSAGE - ANDREW LOCKINGTON (MOVIESCORE MEDIA)
  • THE LITTLE PRINCE - HANS ZIMMER & RICHARD HARVEY (BECAUSE MUSIC)
This year's animation section, whilst not as rich with quality as 2014, still features a plethora of exceptional scores. The cutesy of The Good Dinosaur and Un Gallo Con Muchos Heuvos was juxtaposed in both instances by impressive comedic timing and dramatic heft that resonated heartily, whilst Andrew Lockington and Hans Zimmer w/ Richard Harvey (or the other way around, depending on how you see the collaboration) conjured up mature, highly enjoyable scores with Pirate's Passage and The Little Prince. But the two scores which really nailed the emotional loft required of them were Gabriel Yared's breathtakingly beautiful The Prophet, and Michael Giacchino's Inside Out, the latter of which wins this category. I will admit, it was not until Vikram's review that I began to truly appreciate Giacchino's genius within this context, but now, I find there is no doubt in my heart that Inside Out is the overwhelming winner.   

BEST TELEVISION SCORE (6 NOM.)
  • OUTLANDER - BEAR McCREARY (MADISON GATE RECORDS)
  • DA VINCI'S DEMONS: SEASON 3 - BEAR McCREARY (SPARKS AND SHADOWS)
  • LEGENDS OF CHIMA: SEASON 2 - ANTHONY LLEDO (MOVIESCORE MEDIA)
  • THE HUNT - STEVEN PRICE (SONY MUSIC ENTERTAINMENT)
  • CIRCE - GEORG HOLM/ORRI PÁLL DÝRASON/HILMAR ÖRN HILMARSSON/KJARTAN HOLM (KRUNK)
  • HANNIBAL: SEASON 3 - BRIAN REITZELL (LAKESHORE RECORDS)
The television category continues to seemingly belong to Bear McCreary, whose work on Outlander and the eventual victor, Da Vinci's Demons: Season 3, was more poignant, entertaining, and rich with life than any of his competitors. Trailing close behind were Steven Price and Anthony Lledo, whose work on The Hunt and Legends of Chima: Season 2, was full of nuance and detail. And finally, Georg Holm and Orri Páll Dýrason of the band Sigur Rós teamed up with Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson and Georg's brother Kjartan for seventy minutes of post-rock goodness on Circe, while Brian Reitzell continued to showcase his haunting soundscapes with Hannibal: Season 3, the years most unnerving score.     

BEST VIDEO GAME SCORE (6 NOM.)
  • ORI AND THE BLIND FOREST - GARETH COKER (MICROSOFT STUDIOS MUSIC)
  • ASSASSIN'S CREED: SYNDICATE - AUSTIN WINTORY (UBISOFT)
  • DRAGON AGE INQUISITION: TRESPASSER - TREVOR MORRIS (ELECTRONIC ARTS)
  • HALO 5: GUARDIANS - KAZUMA JINNOUCHI (MICROSOFT STUDIOS MUSIC)
  • CIVILIZATION: BEYOND EARTH - RISING TIDE - GEOFF KNORR/GRANT KIRKHOPE/GRIFFIN COHEN (2K)
  • EVERYBODY'S GONE TO THE RAPTURE - JESSICA CURRY (SONY CLASSICAL)
Everybody's Gone To The Rapture, by Jessica Curry, is transcendent. Imagine if Enya and Sinéad O'Connor lent their voices to a score penned by an amalgamation of Couer de Pirate (Child of Light), Max Richter (The Leftovers), Gustav Mahler , and John Tavener. What Jessica Curry has accomplished here, alongside vocalist Elin Manahan Thomas, is nothing short of brilliant. This score is the only one of 2015 that made me cry. Instrumentally, it is not as gorgeous as Ori and the Blind Forest, nor is it as technically adventurous or savvy as Austin Wintory's Assassin's Creed: Syndicate (this is his third year in a row of contention for this award), its soundscape isn't as rich in detail as the behemoth Civilization: Beyond Earth - Rising Tide, and it is arguably less entertaining than Halo 5: Guardians and Dragon Age Inquisition: Trespasser. But it is filled with such rich, vivid emotion, that it affects more so than any of its competitors.  This was an easy category to award.

BEST FILM SCORE (10 NOM.)
  • SICARIO - JOHANN JOHANNSSON (VARESE SARABANDE)
  • WOLF TOTEM - JAMES HORNER (MILAN RECORDS)
  • PETER AND WENDY - MAURIZIO MALAGNINI (SILVA SCREEN)
  • MUHAMMAD: THE MESSENGER OF GOD - A.R. RAHMAN (SONY INDIA)
  • THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY PART 2 - JAMES NEWTON HOWARD (REPUBLIC ENTERTAINMENT)
  • MACBETH - JED KURZEL (DECCA RECORDS)
  • BRIDGE OF SPIES - THOMAS NEWMAN (HOLLYWOOD RECORDS)
  • STEVE JOBS - DANIEL PEMBERTON (BACK LOT MUSIC)
  • JUPITER ASCENDING - MICHAEL GIACCHINO (WATERTOWER MUSIC)
  • CINDERELLA - PATRICK DOYLE (WALT DISNEY RECORDS)
This is a truly difficult category to award, considering how good some of these top tier scores are. Whilst Giacchino's Jupiter Ascending stormed the battle gates and claimed victory, A.R. Rahman, James Horner, and James Newton Howard offered up their fair share of competition, all of their efforts worthy of the prize. Lower down, Sicario, Macbeth, Steve Jobs, and Peter and Wendy all earned nominations with their individual stylistic propensities. And rounding out this section comes Doyle' Cinderella, and Newman's Bridge of Spies, both highly enjoyable, technically proficient releases which beckon praise.     

BEST CUE (30 NOM.)
  • THE TANK YARD - BEAR McCREARY (DA VINCI'S DEMONS: SEASON 3)
  • THE FLIGHT TO NEVERLAND - MAURIZIO MALAGNINI (PETER AND WENDY)
  • AND HE WAS NAMED MUHAMMAD (SAL) - A.R. RAHMAN (MUHAMMAD: THE MESSENGER OF GOD)
  • RETURN TO THE WILD - JAMES HORNER (WOLF TOTEM)
  • UN MOMENT DE GRACE - MICHEL LEGRAND (LA RANÇON DE LA GLOIRE)
  • BRYAN'S GRIEF - NATHANIEL MECHALY (TAKEN 3)
  • COURAGE AND KINDNESS - PATRICK DOYLE (CINDERELLA)
  • UP THE SPIRIT CAVERNS WALLS - GARETH COKER (ORI AND THE BLIND FOREST)
  • WALTZING ON ROOFTOPS AND COBBLESTONES - AUSTIN WINTORY (ASSASSIN'S CREED: SYNDICATE)
  • POWER VS TEAMWORK - STEVEN PRICE (THE HUNT)
  • DARK RED THEME 2 - CRAIG ARMSTRONG (VICTOR FRANKENSTEIN)
  • THE TURING TEST - BEN SALISBURY & GEOFF BARROW (EX MACHINA)
  • OPENING - CRAIG ARMSTRONG (FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD)
  • JUPITER ASCENDING - 4TH MOVEMENT - MICHAEL GIACCHINO (JUPITER ASCENDING)
  • THE BEAST - JOHANN JOHANNSSON (SICARIO)
  • CONVOY - JOHANN JOHANNSSON (SICARIO)
  • THE PREPARATIONS - JAMES HORNER (SOUTHPAW)
  • PRIMROSE - JAMES NEWTON HOWARD (THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY PART 2)
  • JACK IT UP - DANIEL PEMBERTON (STEVE JOBS)
  • REVENGE - DANIEL PEMBERTON (STEVE JOBS)
  • THE CHILD, PT.2 - JED KURZEL (MACBETH)
  • LANDSCAPES - JED KURZEL (MACBETH)
  • OVERTURE - ENNIO MORRICONE (THE HATEFUL EIGHT)
  • HOMECOMING - THOMAS NEWMAN (BRIDGE OF SPIES)
  • THE JEDI STEPS AND FINALE - JOHN WILLIAMS (STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS)
  • IF I FIGHT, YOU FIGHT (TRAINING MONTAGE) - LUDWIG GORANSSON (CREED)
  • ALLERDALE HALL - FERNANDO VELÁZQUEZ (CRIMSON PEAK)
  • CADENZA - LORNE BALFE (BLACKWOOD)
  • JOY TURNS TO SADNESS/A GROWING PERSONALITY - MICHAEL GIACCHINO (INSIDE OUT)
  • AS THE JURASSIC WORLD TURNS - MICHAEL GIACCHINO (JURASSIC WORLD)
The best cue category features five more nominees than 2014's section, and for good reason; there was an influx of standout moments all throughout the year. Bear McCreary's 'The Tank Yard' served as his most poignant endeavour; 'Return to the Wild', from Wolf Totem, had multiple instances where tears from the listener were very much justified; cello fluctuations have never been as awesome as they were on 'The Beast', from Sicario; the final statement of the love theme during 'Primrose' in Mockingjay Part 2 may be one of the most beautiful thematic reprises of Howard's career; Ludwig Goransson captured the rousing glory that a training montage from the Rocky franchise simply needs to have on 'If I Fight, You Fight (Training Montage)'; John Williams pens some of the best original melodies of his career for the conclusion to The Force Awakens in 'The Jedi Steps and Finale'; and Michael Giacchino earns three nominations here for the affecting beauty of 'Joy Turns To Sadness/A Growing Personality', the massive size and bombast of 'Jupiter Ascending - 4th Movement', and his most impressive work for the year, the moving, sweeping orchestral majesty of 'As The Jurassic World Turns'. But when it came to variety, narrative clarity, instrumentation, and emotion, no other individual track came anywhere near the harrowing allure of Daniel Pemberton's 'Revenge'; an absolute masterclass in the way of classical writing. This was followed closely behind by Pemberton's other nominated track, 'Jack It Up', which was the year's most addictive piece, and Jed Kurzel's 'The Child, Pt.2', which captured the calamitous hostility of Macbeth from the very onset.  

BEST COMPOSER (8 NOM.)
  • DANIEL PEMBERTON (THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E, STEVE JOBS)
  • BEAR McCREARY (DA VINCI'S DEMONS, EVERLY, AGENTS OF SHIELD, OUTLANDER, ASSASSIN'S CREED SYNDICATE: JACK THE RIPPER)
  • JAMES HORNER (WOLF TOTEM, SOUTHPAW, THE 33)
  • CRAIG ARMSTRONG (FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD, VICTOR FRANKENSTEIN)
  • STEVEN PRICE (THE HUNT)
  • CARTER BURWELL (CAROL, MR. HOLMES, LEGEND, ANOMALISA)
  • TOM HOLKONBORG (MAD MAX: FURY ROAD, BLACK MASS, RUN ALL NIGHT, POINT BREAK)
  • MICHAEL GIACCHINO (JUPITER ASCENDING, JURASSIC WORLD, TOMORROWLAND, INSIDE OUT)
Honestly, it feels a little too easy to pick Giacchino for this one; yes, his output on the whole was exceptional, Jupiter Ascending and Inside Out in particular two absolutely brilliant scores. But Tomorrowland never really registered for myself, and it does hurt his average for the year. I am somewhat tempted to go for Steven Price; whilst he did not pick up the award for Best Television Score with The Hunt, it does not change the fact that he developed two and a half hours of quality, varied, nuanced music, that, for much of its duration, impressed intellectually as well as emotionally. Not to mention Bear McCreary, Carter Burwell, Tom Holkonborg, and Craig Armstrong, who all offered, in their own respective ways, crowd-pleasing, powerful music all throughout the year. The real contest though, for myself, was between our dearly departed James Horner, whose final year was filled with both a mix of throwback (Wolf Totem, The 33) and invention (Southpaw), and relative newcomer Daniel Pemberton, who burst into the big leagues with two of the finest scores of the year in The Man From U.N.C.L.E and Steve Jobs. Ultimately, I went with Pemberton; what he provided this year is a surefire way to tick all my Best Composer boxes. Huge variations in melody, instrumentation, and genre? Tick. Technically impressive composition, that possesses a healthy dose of emotional resonance? Tick. High average rating for all output? Tick. As much as I wanted to see Horner off with a Best Composer award, I couldn't betray my gut feeling. 

BEST SCORE (10 NOM.)

  • DA VINCI'S DEMONS: SEASON 3 - BEAR McCREARY (SPARKS AND SHADOWS)
  • JUPITER ASCENDING - MICHAEL GIACCHINO (WATERTOWER MUSIC)
  • CIVILIZATION: BEYOND EARTH - RISING TIDE - GEOFF KNORR/GRANT KIRKHOPE/GRIFFIN COHEN (2K)
  • MUHAMMAD: THE MESSENGER OF GOD - A.R. RAHMAN (SONY INDIA)
  • WOLF TOTEM - JAMES HORNER (MILAN RECORDS)
  • EVERYBODY'S GONE TO THE RAPTURE - JESSICA CURRY (SONY CLASSICAL)
  • THE HUNT - STEVEN PRICE (SONY MUSIC ENTERTAINMENT)
  • LEGENDS OF CHIMA: SEASON 2 - ANTHONY LLEDO (MOVIESCORE MEDIA)
  • THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY PART 2 - JAMES NEWTON HOWARD (REPUBLIC ENTERTAINMENT)
  • STEVE JOBS - DANIEL PEMBERTON (BACK LOT MUSIC)
Everybody's Gone To The Rapture is a perfect score, to my ears at least. For all of Jupiter Ascending's rampant magnitude, nothing could best this powerful, gorgeous masterclass in minimalism. All the other nominees, I loved; from the invention showcased within Steve Jobs, to the old school melodies of Wolf Totem; from the surprising depth of Legends of Chima, to the heartfelt passion of Da Vinci's Demons. Not to mention Price's enthralling The Hunt, or Howard's satisfying conclusion to The Hunger Games franchise. And one should not forget the orchestral splendour that permeates both Muhammad: The Messenger of God and Civilization: Beyond Earth - Rising Tide. These are all wonderful scores, with highlights aplenty, but Everybody's Gone To The Rapture is one whole that feels like more than just a score; more than just music. It captures the emptiness; the sorrow; the pain; the confliction; and the sliver of hope that should be expected of a score whose job it is to articulate the emotions associated with the disappearance of a whole town's population. This is the reason I listen to scores.

I figured I'd provide some statistics for the winners and multi-nominees, so you can start formulating arguments against me with regards to bias.
  • Michael Giacchino - 8 nominations, 3 wins (38%)
  • Michel Legrand - 2 nominations, 1 win (50%)
  • Daniel Pemberton - 7 nominations, 2 wins (29%)
  • James Horner - 6 nominations, 1 win (17%)
  • Joe Kraemer - 1 nomination, 1 win (100%)
  • Bear McCreary - 5 nominations, 1 win (20%)
  • Jessica Curry - 2 nominations, 2 wins (100%)
Not to mention...
  • John Williams - 2 nominations, 0 wins (0%)
I nominated Williams in two separate categories for The Force Awakens. Be appeased!

I sincerely thank everyone who visited Entertainment Junkie throughout 2015. 'Twas a great year for film, video game, and television scoring, with a wide variety of exceptional music from all corners of the globe. As for what's in store for 2016; I do not know. Anticipate shorter reviews due to time constraints.