Best Original Score – 1978

Official Nominations: Midnight Express. The Boys From Brazil. Days Of Heaven. Heaven Can Wait. Superman. The Buddy Holly Story. The Wiz. Pretty Baby.

After last year’s bonanza, John Williams only received a single meagre nomination this time around. Superman is another classic with several rousing themes which go hand in hand with any discussion or review of the movie. Midnight Express was one of the official winners this year, Giorgio Morodor introducing movie audiences to the joys of synths. It’s a weird one – ranging from fast tracks which sound more like a cheesy action movie and love themes which now feel dated. It still feels like a worthy win, though I never feel any of the music evokes any of the horror, despair, or feeling of the movie. The Boys From Brazil probably sounded incredibly old fashioned alongside Morodor’s new-fangled beast, with its waltzes and strings – some good pieces but lacks that core theme.

Another yearly stalwart in this category is of course Ennio Morricone – his work on Malick’s Days of Heaven is ridiculously his first official nomination. Heaven Can Wait seems to have received nominations all over the place – we know The Academy loves Warren Beatty – but they apparently went overboard this year. It does have a memorable lead theme, but I find it veers too close to cheesy daytime soap. The Buddy Holly Story was the other official winner this year – as you would expect it features plenty of early rock’n’roll hits. The Wiz is your everyday African American Adaptation of The Wizard Of Oz featuring Michael Jackson and friends. It’s not really like anything else you’ll ever see. Quincy Jones brings the noise and while he, Ross, and Jackson had all and would later make better music, it’s still interesting and has some good moments. Finally, Pretty Baby is the one film here most people won’t remember, odd given that it’s Louis Malle directing Brooke Shields as a young girl working in a whorehouse. The soundtrack is essentially all Ragtime stuff which I’m not a huge fan of.

My Winner: Superman

SUPERMAN – John Williams | MOVIE MUSIC UK

My Nominations: Superman. Days Of Heaven. Midnight Express. Jaws 2. Grease. Halloween. American Hot Wax. Big Wednesday. Dawn Of The Dead. Damien: Omen 2. I Wanna To Hold Your Hand. Animal House.

Seriously people – if Pretty Baby and The Buddy Holly Story are getting nominations here, there’s no way Grease should not be nominated. I’m not a huge fan of the film, but its songs and its music are part of our culture much more than most of the films nominated. It was the highest grossing film of the year, one of the biggest selling soundtracks ever, and with some of the most famous movie songs ever – there’s no way it doesn’t get a nomination. Although it’s long forgotten, if we’re including soundtracks on the strength of their songs then we have to include American Hot Wax – it ain’t American Graffiti, but it ain’t far off. While we’re on the subject, we have to also include I Wanna To Hold Your Hand for all those Beatles songs.  And Animal House too. Jeepers.

Here’s an interesting one – I picked Jaws as my winner when it was released but I think Jaws 2 is the better score. It has everything the first one had, but some inspired additional pieces too. I’m not sure I can pick it as winner though given that so much was created for the original. Sticking with horror sequels, and Goldsmith’s work on The Omen 2, while not as effective or creepy as the first one still does enough to be worthy of another nomination. Halloween kick started a hundred horror clichés, music and musical cues among them – Carpenter’s score is one of the best horror scores ever with chilling themes which evoke not only the era but the timeless nature of the season. Speaking of timeless horror soundtracks and we have Dawn Of The Dead – much lesser known outside of horror circles than Carpenter’s work, but Goblin’s score is beloved by everyone inside the genre.

Basil Poledouris is one of the most underrated composers in history and sadly passed away without a single Academy nomination. We change that now, with his work in Big Wednesday much softer and nostalgic than his later work yet no less notable. As you may know, Jerry Goldsmith was on a roll this year – along with The Omen 2 and The Boys From Brazil,  he did Coma, Capricorn One, Swarm, and Magic, the last of which is creepy and dramatic enough to earn a nomination from me.

My Winner: Halloween

Let us know your winner in the comments!

Best Original Score – 1977

Official Nominations: Star Wars. The Spy Who Loved Me. Julia. Mohammed Messenger Of God. Close Encounters Of The Third Kind. A Little Night Music. Pete’s Dragon. The Slipper And The Rose.

Well well well, John Welliams (Williams) was on a bit of a roll this year, with two nominations and one win – both scores of course being indisputable classics which are still listened to by thousands of people today. Lets not kid ourselves – Star Wars is winning this every day of the week. From the main theme, to Leia’s theme, to the Cantina theme, it’s littered with classics and is obviously one of the best and most famous movie scores ever. Close Encounters Of The Third Kind is mostly known for the famous ‘do di do duh doo’ communication melody, but elsewhere the score has many other great pieces ranging from tense buildups and wailing melodies of foreboding.

The Spy Who Loved Me remains one of the most critically acclaimed Bond entries, netting three Oscar nominations. Marvin Hamlisch took over from John Barry and ironically got the first nomination of the series (Skyfall would pick up the second decades on) – his score patriotic, quintessentially Bond yet self mocking. Julia is one of George Delerue’s most suitably poignant efforts while Mohammed Messenger Of God (or The Message) isn’t a film you can see being made or becoming so successful today – Maurice Jarre’s blends East and West quietly. On to the other category and A Little Night Music picked up the official win – you already know how I feel about musicals. Pete’s Dragon is there too, never a favourite film of mine but the music is okay, and finally The Slipper And The Rose is a bizarre British live action musical of Cinderella with some decent songs and tunes.

My Winner: Star Wars

My Nominations: Star Wars. The Spy Who Loved Me. Julia. Close Encounters Of The Third Kind. Black Sunday. A Bridge Too Far. The Deep. Eraserhead. Hausu. Martin. Saturday Night Fever.

Does anything else stand a chance against Star Wars this year? Well, John Williams didn’t only make two scores this year – he ain’t no slacker – he also made Black Sunday – another string heavy piece which actually has a lot in common with his two official nominations though not as bombastic. A Bridge Too Far is yet another classic war epic with a massive cast  – you know I love those, and while John Addison’s score is not as memorable as others it does still have a great lead theme. The Deep isn’t a great film, but for some reason certain scenes have always stayed with me, usually those involving eels (Louis Gossett Jr never seems to have much luck with aquatic wildlife). The music is good though, reminiscent of Jaws of course, but going its own way too. I’d love it if Eraserhead had received a nomination here (or anywhere) so I’m adding it, for it’s washing, industrial, hissing noise.

The soundtrack to Hausu is great because it was completed before the film had actually been made, yet it manages to be as buck nuts as the film itself, sounding like a children’s TV show and a cheesy rock based musical. The soundtrack of Martin is one of the most beautiful, haunting, and underrated in horror, while we can’t have a discussion about soundtracks without mentioning one of the biggest selling albums ever – Saturday Night Fever – a soundtrack brimming with disco classics. If we’re going to include that, then we must also include Smokey And The Bandit – as much as I’m not a fan of disco, I hate country music more, yet both these soundtracks are great. Susperia remains Argento’s most famous film and probably Goblin’s most acclaimed score – reminding me of Rosemary’s Baby but with hissing and arcane whisperings and chants in place of the lullaby ‘la las’. It’s one of the few soundtracks I can put on and listen to the whole way through, a rip-roaring ride of devilish funk, rock, synth, screams, and more. It would be my winner if not for Star Wars. I think that’s quite enough soundtracks for one year.

My Winner: Star Wars

Let us know in the comments which Score of 1977 you would choose!

Best Original Score – 1975

Official Nominations: Jaws. Birds Do It, Bees Do It. Bite The Bullet. One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. The Wind And The Lion. Barry Lyndon. Tommy. Funny Lady.

It’s another year where the category is needlessly divided into Best Original Score and Best Adaptation Score. Just have Best Score, okay? Jaws and Barry Lyndon won their respective categories and if you’re not already humming the Jaws theme as you read this then you probably need to contact your Doctor post haste. I’m surprised Lyndon won over Funny Lady – usually it’s the musicals which win here. Either way, I’d be picking Tommy in that category. It’s not my favourite Who album or film, but it’s the best out of those three.

Birds Do It, Bees Do It (what? Fuck? Ah right.) is actually a documentary about just that. Yep, if you have a thing for watching frogs, chimps, and everything in between humping, then draw the curtains and stick this on. Gerald Fried is one of the great unsung composers, having worked on a bunch of early Kubrick films and just about every TV show from the 1950s onwards. Surprisingly, this score is not entirely made up of grunting and moistness. Bite The Bullet is a forgotten but interesting film about a cross country horse race and stars Gene Hackman, Jan Michael Vincent, Ben Johnson, James Coburn, and the Alex North soundtrack it typically sentimental without becoming schmaltzy.

When talking about One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest the score is something which rarely comes up. It’s use of a saw to get those ghostly ‘woo’ noises makes the score seem like a Western, and while the music as a whole is poignant and fitting I do think it lacks that big movie score hook to draw people in. Finally, The Wind And The Lion is a wonderful, rousing John Milius film which again few people remember. Jerry Goldsmith’s score is big, bombastic, and has all the things I love in film music – huge string arrangements and memorable cues and melodies. Still though… Jaws. 

My Winner: Jaws

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My Nominations: Jaws. One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. The Wind And The Lion. Tommy. Deep Red. Hard Times. The Man Who Would Be King. Monty Python And The Holy Grail. Nashville. Picnic At Hanging Rock. The Rocky Horror Picture Show. The Yakuza.

Deep Red is one of Goblin’s best, and funkiest scores – just listen to that bass and those high pitched, torturous squeals. You can see where Carpenter and many others got their inspiration from with this one. Hard Times has some wistful and tender guitar and string pieces which both counteract and fit with the violence and plot, while The man Who Would Be King has a typically rousing and patriotic theme. The Holy Grail has an unexpectedly authentic and stirring central theme, while the rest of the score has militaristic moments, elevator ad music, and jovially epic pieces. Nashville is the obvious snub here, especially considering how well the film was received – maybe something to do with the score being mainly songs than instrumental pieces. As much as I can’t stand country music, the score and film are of course satirical which makes them a little more enjoyable.

Despite making me think about The Karate Kid, the score for Picnic At Hanging Rock feels more modern than maybe anything else on the list. The mournful organ, the disjointed notes which drop off almost by mistake, there’s something airy and not quite right about the pieces here – the original ones or those based off classic pieces. It’s a stunning piece and would be my winner if not for a certain shark. The other omission which most would call a serious snub is of course for The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Now, I don’t love the film as much as many people do, but I recognize both the influence, lasting power, and quality of the score and its songs. Finally, The Yakuza is a film no-one remembers even though it’s Sydney Pollack and Robert Mitchum. I love Japanese traditional music and instruments, especially when merged with Western sensibility. The Yakuza soundtrack is one of the finest examples of this clash of styles – and it doesn’t make me think of The Karate Kid (which I love by the way).

My Winner: Jaws

Let us know in the comments which score gets your vote!

Best Music (Scoring) – 1975

Official Nominations: Jaws. The Wind And The Lion. Birds Do It Bees Do It. Bite The Bullet. One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. Barry Lyndon. Funny Lady. Tommy.

There are a very small handful of movie scores, or musical cues that everyone knows; Most of them were written by John Williams. Jaws may be the most recognizable of them all. Doesn’t matter if you’ve seen the movie or not, you just know it. While the two note melody to symbolize the shark’s arrival was basically nicked from Bambi, it works brilliantly here, and Williams cranks up the tension by having it build and become more frenzied as it progresses. It isn’t all scares though, it also features plenty of more subdued moments which Williams would recycle and hone in later Spielberg and Lucas productions.

The Wind And The Lion is in with a shot of winning in any other year, a boisterous, heroic sounding theme with enough Eastern mystery to enchant Western audiences. Birds Do It, Bees Do It, remarkably isn’t a camp 1940s musical. No, it’s a documentary about animals fucking, featuring scenes of animals fucking. Yep. The score is bizarre – on one hand, it’s way too huge to be associated with animals frolicking about and feels completely out of place, on the other hand there are many twee moments which feel like something from a Tom And Jerry cartoon – if an animal falls over, you’ll get a flute going ‘weeeeeooo’ downwards for example. It’s a musical laugh track. Also, it’s a 1974 documentary, so it should’t be here.

Bite The Bullet feels outdated, a score two decades late for a film set seven decades earlier – some good moments, but doesn’t feel right for the Seventies. Nitzche’s score for One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest shouldn’t work, but it somehow does – the weird saw playing and glass circling with spiked percussion sounding like a mind in free fall, childlike, almost anti-music – yet it fits the film wonderfully. Barry Lyndon picked up the win for best Adapted Score – it’s great, merging classical pieces you already know from various eras, while Tommy is as good as you would expect from The Who. It’s not my favourite album from the band, but it has its moments. Funny Lady is wank.

My Winner: Jaws

My Nominations: Jaws. One Flew Over The Cucko’s Nest. Barry Lyndon. Tommy. Monty Python And The Holy Grail. Deep Red. Katie Tippel. Lisztomania. The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

I add a few obvious picks on my list – if you have Tommy and Barry Lyndon, then you have to have Lisztomania, with Yes providing the virtuoso licks. You can’t mention music in 1975 movies without mentioning Goblin – their soundtrack for Deep Red is one of their best, and head and shoulders above most scores which usually get nominated in this category. Similarly, there’s no getting away from the strength and influence of The Rocky Horror Picture ShowKatie Tippel has many good moments, mystery and romance in equal measure, while Monty Python And The Holy Grail probably shouldn’t be nominated given that it was mainly pulled together from existing sources, but there are enough original pieces and it’s edited to the film so skillfully that you wouldn’t know otherwise.

My Winner: Jaws

Let us know your winner in the comments!

Best Music (Scoring) – 1969

Official Nominations: Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid. Anne of The Thousand Days. The Reivers. The Secret of Santa Vittoria. The Wild Bunch. Hello Dolly. Goodbye Mr Chips. Paint Your Wagon. They Shoot Horses Don’t They. Sweet Charity.

More craziness this year as the Scoring category was divided into – Best Original Score (Not A Musical) and Best Original Or Adaptation Score (Including Musical). I’ve bunched them all together though, both in the Official List and in my own. Lets get the two Official Winners out of the way first. BCATSK by one Burt Bacharach is of course most famous for it’s central song, but the rest of the soundtrack has a fun and light folk and jazz vibe, unusual for what would be classed as a Western – it is in stark contrast to Morricone’s stuff for example. There’s a winsome, nostalgic, bittersweet, and playful tone throughout. I’m not convinced Hello Dolly should be on here given that the soundtrack is simply a list of songs from the movie – it’s whether you consider a movie soundtrack to be purely or mostly instrumental, or whether is matters or not. Regardless, the music and songs don’t do anything for me, aside from some amusing lyrics and the vocal and comic talent involved it’s just not very good.

Georges Delarue presents a regal soundtrack for Anne Of The Thousand Days, crafting a very good period sound with subtle contemporary flavour – moving and grand. John Williams was already an established Conductor by the time of The Reivers, but not yet considered in the same league as his contemporaries – this nomination and score went a long way to changing that – a rich and epic score peppered with the lighter melodic moments which would be one of his most enduring trademarks. Ernest Gold’s score for The Secret Of Santa Vittoria is another strong one, with authentic European charm, but it maybe gets lost in the mix with all of the other big hitters this year.

The Wild Bunch I’ve always found to have a strange soundtrack for a Western. Jerry Fielding’s score shares more with a drama or 80s adventure movie than with what you would expect from a Western – perhaps it is this which again adds to the feeling that the movie was closing the book on the genre. Speaking of unusual ideas for a Western, Paint Your Wagon sees Clint, Marvin, and co singing unnecessarily. The music by Lernre, Loewe, and Previn is okay, at least one of the songs is good, but it’s all terribly old fashioned and far too happy and cheesy for its own good.

Goodbye, Mr Chips has a score by John Williams again, and songs by Leslie Bricusse – not my thing as the songs are so plain, while Sweet Charity has work from Cy Coleman and Dorothy Fields – better songs then, but the score is still nothing out of the ordinary – massive jazz thumps and sways, but again not my thing. Finally, They Shoot Horses, Don’t They has strange incidental music punctuated by show tunes or earlier times – the nice score coming from Johnny Green.

My Winner: The Reivers

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My Nominations: The Reivers. The Secret Of Santa Vittoria. Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid. Easy Rider

If those other soundtracks are getting official nominations, then there’s no way Easy Rider is missing out. The same goes for The Italian Job. Quincy Jones somehow steps in to a uniquely English film to give some Motown class to the camp proceedings, while Easy Rider speaks for itself. As that soundtrack is entirely songs though, I can’t in good conscience give it the win in this category.

My Winner: The Italian Job

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Let us know in the comments who your pick for the Best Score of 1969 is – and stay tuned throughout February as I unleash a tonne of music posts that have been sitting in my drafts for months!