Best Original Score – 1979

Official Nominations: A Little Romance. Star Trek. The Champ. 10. The Amityville Horror. All That Jazz. Breaking Away. The Muppet Movie.

A Little Romance and All That Jazz were the winners this year, the former netting Georges Delarue his Oscar. It’s a suitably twee, gentle, unassuming score for a cutesy coming of age romance. Star Trek finally hit the big screen this year with Jerry Goldsmith providing the epic music – most notably the central theme. Dave Grusin’s theme doesn’t adequately match the emotional content of the movie while 10 by Henry Mancini is perfectly bland.

The Amityville Horror gets the rare horror nomination. Music for the genre wasn’t quite starting to copy itself yet, but you can grab many moments from prior classics here, saved mostly by Schifrin’s pedigree. The strings sound creeping, not creepy – there’s some insect like about the way they jab quickly and I like how the brass mimics the string notes. The love theme is pretty good too. If you know me by now, you’ll know my feelings on anything called All That Jazz. Breaking Away is another film which features mostly adaptations while The Muppet Movie is as fantastic as you would expect, though it’s the songs which stand out rather than the other music.

My Winner: Star Trek

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My Nominations: 1941. Alien. Apocalypse Now. The Black Stallion. Mad Max. Moonraker. Nosferatu The Vampire. Quadrophenia. Rocky II. Star Trek. Zombie Flesh Eaters. Stalker.

An almost entirely different roster this year, starting with John Williams and Steven Spielberg up to their old tricks. 1941 doesn’t seem like their typical collaboration but still features plenty of great selections with a military feel. It’s that man Goldsmith again – remember he did Star Trek this year too – with the inspired and creepy score for Alien. Not only are their chilling parts which must work even without having seen the movie, but it inspires a sense of wonder and adventure too. Apocalypse Now merges original pieces with period hits and classic music to create a truly hallucinatory whole – merges genres, overlapping with snippets of gunfire, rotors, and warfare. The Coppola love continues with the underrated score of The Black Stallion – Carmine bringing the grace and class.

Over on the other side of the world the score for Mad Max is every bit as chaotic and unhinged as the film with booming brass blasts and thunderous percussion almost blocking out any trace of melody. Moonraker has a score better than the film it blesses, Barry’s familiar strains working oddly well for the unusual setting. Also working against the odds is Popol Vuh’s soundtrack for Nosferatu The Vampire, a work of electronica, chanting monks, sitars, each finely tuned to unsettle. Quadrophenia is The Who’s best opus – far better than Tommy and I much prefer the film too. This one has the much better songs, and the much better overall score. Bonus points for the movie being on as my wife was giving birth to our second child. Rocky II expands upon the original score in a few ways, though I do feel a little dishonest including it because it reuses so many pieces and motifs from the first film. Those are modified enough to suit the sequel and the original pieces are just as good as anything from part 1 – Bill Conti bringing the goods again.

Star Trek brought the famous series to the big screen, feeding off the success of Star Wars. Jerry Goldsmith indeed took inspiration from the music of Williams as well as expanding upon the original TV series themes to create a majestic score in its own right, as mentioned above. Tarkovsky’s Stalker joins him once more with Eduard Artemyev for another unearthly score, mixing oriental string instruments with strange mechanical synth. Finally, ahem, Zombie Flesh Eaters. Seriously, it has a great soundtrack. It’s really creepy, elevating the film itself and working as a great standalone – all threatening beats and epic synths along with random weird noises.

My Winner: Star Trek

Let us know your winner in the comments!