Wednesday, May 27, 2020

10 Mesmerizing Musical Scores from the Last 10 Years

Welcome to this week’s Movies With Abe recommendations list! Two weeks ago, I spotlighted 25 Fantastic Foreign Films You Should Watch at Home Now, and last week was 10 Terrific Movies You’ve Never Heard Of (And Where to Stream Them For Free). Now, I’m looking not at films themselves but at their music. Here are some amazing scores that I always remember with a standout sample track embedded from YouTube. Happy listening!

*Note: I was disappointed when making this list to find that my final ten didn’t include any scores by female composers. Hildur Guðnadóttir’s Oscar-winning work on “Joker” is a definite runner-up. From before this time range, I’d highly recommend the work of composers such as Rachel Portman (Never Let Me Go, The Duchess) and Anne Dudley (American History X).

Beasts of the Southern Wild (Dan Romer and Benh Zeitlin)

The stunning filmmaker debut from Benh Zeitlin is pure magic, and this score – which he co-wrote with Romer – matches the tone of the film perfectly and serves to really make it what it is. Their work together on Zeitlin’s follow-up film, “Wendy” which was just released this year, is also truly wonderful.

First Man (Justin Hurwitz)

After his film-defining, Oscar-winning work on “La La Land,” Hurwitz reteamed with director Damien Chazelle to travel into space, capturing the unbelievable excitement and monumental impact of the trip.

Interstellar (Hans Zimmer)

Films set in the vastness of outer space are prone to terrific music, and Zimmer’s exceptional work here is one of the best examples. After collaborating previously with Christopher Nolan on films including “Inception,” Zimmer wrote this tremendous score that contrasts formidably with the silence of space to convey its unimaginable scope.

Shame (Harry Escott)

This marvelous score serves as a way of adding drama and anticipation to the antics of its protagonist, whose difficulty containing his sex addiction fuels this entire film. Moments that wouldn’t otherwise carry so much weight are enhanced considerably by this magnificent musical expression of an internal struggle.

Tangerines (Niaz Diasamidze)

It’s very possible that music in foreign language films is harder to identify (though “The Lives of Others,” “A Very Long Engagement,” and “Amelie” immediately come to mind), but I haven’t been able to forget the simple but stirring score since I first heard it, an effective and fitting ode to the conflict that exists within one home in this excellent Estonian film.

Rush (Hans Zimmer)

The only composer on this list twice is here this time for his equally triumphant and muted melody for the thrill that comes from being on the racetrack and the knowledge that there are other things that matter more in life. Marco Beltrami’s terrific theme for “Ford v Ferrari” is also strong, but this one goes a step further to make it a complicated and haunting driving force.

Moonrise Kingdom (Alexandre Desplat)

This is one incredible soundtrack that plays almost entirely throughout the film and directs its buoyant action with its upbeat notes and its self-awareness of its role as orchestrator of events. I’m still bitter that Desplat won his first Oscar for his subsequent collaboration with director Wes Anderson, “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” making this his only film with Anderson that inexplicably didn’t result in a nomination.

The Congress (Max Richter)

This track immediately conjures up the transformative nature of what this movie entails for its characters (and its narrative), digitizing an imprint of an actress so that her likeness can be used forever without having to worry about age or effort. This soundtrack to an uneven film is still a worthy follow-up to Richter’s masterful work in his first collaborationwith director Ari Folman, “Waltz with Bashir,” and his often-used beautiful “On the Nature of Daylight.”

A Most Violent Year (Alex Ebert)

This powerful anthem conveys some of its film’s grandeur, navigating its main character’s struggle between the allure of wealth and success and the purity of remaining a good businessman. Its starkness matches the effective cinematography and pacing of this underrated film. See also: Ebert’s Golden-Globe winning score from the previous year for “All Is Lost.”

Fast Color (Rob Simonsen)

The most recent entry on this list is a score that works in tandem with visuals to display the awe-inspiring nature of its protagonist’s powers, telling a story with sight and sound that supersedes any dialogue the film has. It’s a wondrous suite that energizes and astounds.

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