Best Score – 1983

Official Nominations: The Right Stuff. Terms Of Endearment. Return of The Jedi. Cross Creek. Under Fire. Yentl. The Sting II. Trading Places.

I didn’t intend to always pick Star Wars as the winner in this category, but look at what other options we have this year – there’s not a lot to go on. The Right Stuff is decent – filled hope, patriotism, and makes you think of ambition – it has always reminded me of Band Of Brothers. Terms Of Endearment is one of those films. It’s one of the best of one of those films, but still. The central pieces – those piano themes – are nice enough, but on their own they are nothing special and feel more like something off the cuff for a Hallmark movie or a TV soap than a big budget weepie. Jedi doesn’t have as effective original themes as the previous two movies, but the introduction of the Ewoks gives Williams a chance to try out some new percussive themes and rhythmic beats and the remixes on the popular pieces are all the more epic this time around. Cross Creek is a film almost no-one remembers, even if it was nominated for four Oscars, including two for acting. It’s a gentle, pastoral score, and quite lovely in places – just not memorable. Under Fire features another dramatic, tension fuelled score by Jerry Goldsmith – if the film was more widely remembered you think the score would be so too. I like how it merges the traditional grand orchestra of US Cinema with South American guitars, panpipes, and outbursts.

The final three nominees had their own special category this year, presumably created/modified so that Yentl could notch up a win. If all you know about Yentl is from The Simpsons, then that’s all you need to know. It has a few catchy songs… really I’m not sure if this category should be merged here or with the Best Original Song. Doesn’t matter, none of them are going to win in my book. Credit to Streisand for making the whole thing happen, and of course to Legrand and the Bergmans. The Sting 2 is mostly unnecessary and the music isn’t that great. I’m not sure if Trading Places should be here given that much of its score is taken from Mozart and several Christmas standards.

My Winner: Return Of The Jedi

Star Wars: Return of the Jedi (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) - Album by John Williams | Spotify

My Nominations: Return Of The Jedi. Christine. The Dead Zone. Flashdance. Krull. The Outsiders. Scarface. Videodrome.

Another year, and another Carpenter nomination. Christine isn’t one of my favourite movies by him, but it does have a decent soundtrack. Alan Howarth accompanies, as he always did in those days. It’s another primarily synth based piece, but much of the film gets bogged down by traditional rock music and the lovely originals tend to be forgotten. Many of the pieces are short, mood setting rather than pieces of music in the classical sense. Keeping it horror, Cronenberg gets two entries this year with Videodrome and The Dead Zone. Long term musical partner sits out duties on The Dead Zone, instead working on Videodrome – his work moving from grand orchestral suites to synthetic, computerized pieces which increasingly lack foundation. The Dead Zone is a more traditional score – Michael Kamen stepping up for active duty – but it has enough good old mystery and grandeur to remind us that this is horror.

Flashdance continues the 80s pop musicals, and while it’s a film you remember more for the songs than the general score it has enough emotive and inspiring piano and synth pieces to stand on its own. Krull is one of the many Star Wars rip-offs – one I enjoyed when I was younger but realized how crappy it is when seen as an adult. One of the many things these movies borrow from Lucas and Williams is the epic operatic scores – James Horner was employed for this one and fills the score with choirs ans horns to give an old world Knights and adventure feel. While Coppola released two films this year, The Outsiders (scored by Carmine) is the more interesting of the two. Rumble Fish is more experimental, this one is more dramatic. Finally, the Scarface score is a mixture of Cuban beats, industrial rock, and 80s hip hop, though some of Morodor’s pieces remind me of Goblin and The Wall. 

My Winner: Return Of The Jedi

One thought on “Best Score – 1983

  1. John Charet February 7, 2023 / 11:13 pm

    For me, it would be The Right Stuff 🙂

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