The best score in a movie I have heard this year has been Hans Zimmer‘s for 12 Years a Slave. Combined with the sound design for Steve McQueen‘s film, it’s as I said in my review, “[W]hen the ambient noise isn’t setting the mood, Hans Zimmer’s cello-driven score threatens and taunts us with the promise of more to come.” It’s lovely and threatening at the same time and it’s why it tops my first batch of 2014 Oscar predictions for the Best Original Score category.
Zimmer’s 12 Years score, however, isn’t the only great one I’ve heard this year. It’s been a little while since I actually really liked this many scores in one year and there are still several to be heard. Of those I’ve also enjoyed, I thought Alexandre Desplat‘s score served Philomena well and as much as I believe it wasn’t entirely necessary, Steven Price‘s score for Gravity is excellent.
One final piece of music I’ve heard that I’m hoping gains some attention is JÃ³hann JÃ³hannsson‘s work on Denis Villeneuve‘s Prisoners. After complimenting Roger Deakins‘ cinematography in the film, I also mentioned Johannsson’s work in my review saying it “brings a heightened level of menace to Deakins’ cool greys and rain soaked pavement.” Like some of those mentioned above, it’s not a big score, but it’s a score that works within the framework of the film. To me, it’s definitely Oscar-worthy, but it isn’t as if Johannsson is a big name in Hollywood, this being his first major feature film, but it’s an impressive outing if there ever was one.
Check out the following featurette examining his work in the film.
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Of the work yet to be heard, however, you have some heavy hitters. Composers such as five-time Oscar winner John Williams (The Book Thief) and 11-time Oscar nominee Thomas Newman (Saving Mr. Banks) who will be looking for his first win. On top of Philomena, Alexandre Desplat also has George Clooney‘s The Monuments Men and 20-time Oscar nominee, two-time winner (both for Original Song), Randy Newman comes to the table with Monsters University.
I’ll be seeing Captain Phillips tomorrow and will reserve judgment on Henry Jackman‘s score until then, but Jackman’s work has rarely excited me. Case in point would be his scores for films such as Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and G.I. Joe: Retaliation earlier this year. But who knows, maybe he’ll surprise me.
For the time being, I’m going with a few favorites as well as old reliables with my first round of predictions for the Best Original Score category. Here they are and you can check out my full list of 17 contenders right here.