In praise of the modern movie soundtrack

Posted by · 7:41 am · August 5th, 2011

I generally try to ignore film opinion pieces I think are fundamentally misguided — à chacun son goût and all that, plus the fact that fighting one mind is generally more trouble than it’s worth — but Ben Walsh’s idle article in The Independent today on the supposed demise of the movie soundtrack does such […]

Continue reading »

Filed in: Daily

OFF THE CARPET: Sun came up

Posted by · 9:11 am · February 28th, 2011

Steven Spielberg couldn’t have put it more concisely during his presentation of the Best Picture category last night.  To paraphrase, he noted that whichever films did not happen to win Best Picture this year would join the ranks of numerous classics of the medium. Was it preemptive damage control?  I hope not.  Why be apologetic?  […]

Continue reading »

Filed in: Off the Carpet

WEEKLY WRAP: BAFTA ‘Speech’ sweep, ASC upset, Berlinale coverage

Posted by · 8:54 pm · February 18th, 2011

• To the surprise of precisely no one, hometown favorite “The King’s Speech” reigned supreme at the BAFTAs. • Before you go basing your Oscar predictions on the BAFTA outcome, Kris pointed out a crucial caveat. • “Inception” added another guild award to its mantel, as Wally Pfister beat Roger Deakins to the American Society […]

Continue reading »

Filed in: Daily

TECH SUPPORT INTERVIEW: ‘Toy Story 3’ composer and songwriter Randy Newman

Posted by · 11:29 am · February 17th, 2011

When the Oscar nominations were announced last month, composer Alan Menken almost tied Randy Newman for third-most nominations among living artists.  But Newman inched away, nabbing his own nomination for the song “We Belong Together” (listen) from “Toy Story 3” and thereby maintaining a firm grip on the designation. It was Newman’s 20th nomination to […]

Continue reading »

Filed in: Interviews · Tech Support

Bingham wins a Grammy, set for Bonnaroo

Posted by · 10:37 am · February 15th, 2011

I didn’t see the Grammys this weekend.  In fact, I tend to avoid them like the plague.  But it was nevertheless an impressive slate of winners, so that’s a unique start. In any case, it’s worth pointing out that Ryan Bingham and T Bone Burnett’s “The Weary Kind” wrapped up a long awards march by […]

Continue reading »

Filed in: Daily

Best Original Song performances are back

Posted by · 9:31 am · February 4th, 2011

The Academy’s Twitter feed just noted the following: You heard it 1st: Best Song performances are back for 83rd #Oscars! Gwyneth Paltrow set to sing…more on the way. To which I say: Great.  It was grossly disrespectful, I thought, to suddenly jerk them from the telecast last year (and if you heard some of the […]

Continue reading »

Filed in: Daily

OSCAR GUIDE: Best Music (Original Song)

Posted by · 9:09 am · January 28th, 2011

The music branch’s process of nominating in the Best Original Song category changed a few years ago.  Members now screen clips and view contenders as used within the context of their films.  It generally means music used organically has a better shot than the usual closing credits fluff of yore. That rule change has also, […]

Continue reading »

Filed in: Oscar Guide

TECH SUPPORT: Final analysis, part one

Posted by · 8:57 am · January 20th, 2011

It seems hard to believe that it’s been more than six months since I wrote this year’s introductory Tech Support column ( a dissection of the art direction race). Much has changed since then, naturally, as we are less than a week away from the big day when we find out the nominees for the […]

Continue reading »

Filed in: Tech Support

77 scores competing for Oscar, ‘Toy Story 3’ not among them

Posted by · 5:20 am · December 30th, 2010

They may have enjoyed a three-year run of nominations in the category, finally taking the gold with “Up” earlier this year, but Pixar’s hot streak in Best Original Score will not continue at the 2010 Oscars. Although Randy Newman’s “Toy Story 3” score wasn’t ruled ineligible by the Academy — unlike his work on last […]

Continue reading »

Filed in: Daily

TECH SUPPORT: Best Original Song

Posted by · 12:15 pm · December 9th, 2010

I guess I’ve been pretty hard on the Best Original Song category this year. It’s not like any given year tends to have a deluge of impressive fodder up for consideration or anything, but on the whole, outside of a concentration of contenders that have a fighting chance at recognition, it just seems to be […]

Continue reading »

Filed in: Tech Support

TECH SUPPORT: Best Original Score — Volume II

Posted by · 12:35 pm · November 12th, 2010

A great score can take a film from memorable to unforgettable.  Whether it be Vangelis’s synthesizer on the beach in “Chariots of Fire,” Nino Rota’s haunting waltz from “The Godfather” or John Williams’s blaring, adventurous march from “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” scores can elevate amazing images to bring the director’s vision to even greater […]

Continue reading »

Filed in: Tech Support

Listen to Randy Newman’s ‘We Belong Together’ from ‘Toy Story 3’

Posted by · 10:16 am · October 28th, 2010

Randy Newman has been a fixture of the Pixar brand since day one.  He composed the score for 1995’s “Toy Story” and supplied the original songs, “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” becoming the theme of the franchise.  After receiving 15 nominations without a win, he finally took home his Oscar in 2002 for the […]

Continue reading »

Filed in: Daily

TECH SUPPORT: Best Original Score — Volume I

Posted by · 4:31 pm · August 19th, 2010

I am marveled by the accomplishments of all the crafts artists who elevate our films, but this is particularly the case with respect to music composers. Composing equals genius as far as I am concerned.These musicians  join the film at the end, when usually only the director, editor and perhaps the sound mixers are still […]

Continue reading »

Filed in: Tech Support

OSCAR GUIDE: Best Music (Original Song)

Posted by · 11:11 am · February 22nd, 2010

Year after year, the original song category tends to prove that something is broken in the music branch of the Academy.  But to be fair, that’s a bit of a half-truth overall, as the original score field has begun to loosen up a bit and allow for newbie talent to get a foot in the […]

Continue reading »

Filed in: Daily

Listen to Anika Noni Rose’s ‘Almost There’ from ‘The Princess and the Frog’

Posted by · 7:14 pm · December 11th, 2009

Wednesday we featured Dr. John’s “Down in New Orleans” from Disney’s traditional animation entry “The Princess and the Frog,” which is expanding considerably this weekend.  Today we’re happy to offer up what could be the second-best play at a nomination for the film in this category, “Almost There.” Singing on the Randy Newman-penned track is […]

Continue reading »

Filed in: Daily

TECH SUPPORT: Best Original Song

Posted by · 3:18 pm · December 10th, 2009

Over the last five months, Gerard has diligently canvassed and re-canvassed the various crafts categories here at In Contention.  The one category we have held back on all this time, as contenders have slowly fallen into place, was Best Original Song.  Today, it’s time to dig into the field. This has turned into something of […]

Continue reading »

Filed in: Tech Support

Listen to Dr. John’s ‘Down in New Orleans’ from ‘The Princess and the Frog’

Posted by · 1:14 pm · December 9th, 2009

If you take a gander at the Contenders section you’ll note that, by far, the film with the most stabs at this year’s Best Original Song category is Disney’s “The Princess and the Frog.” But interestingly enough (and perhaps a smart move), it seems only four of the tracks are receiving a substantial campaign.  We’re […]

Continue reading »

Filed in: Daily

LA Times shines light on notable 2009 composers

Posted by · 6:56 am · December 9th, 2009

LA Times music critic Todd Martens has posted a useful series of short interviews with the men behind some of the year’s most distinctive film scores. Indeed, it’s group of five names that isn’t too hard to imagine mirroring the year’s eventual Oscar slate: Alexandre Desplat for “Fantastic Mr. Fox,” Michael Giacchino for “Up,” Randy […]

Continue reading »

Filed in: Daily