Happy Weekend, all! I’m taking a bit of a break from movie reviews as I still have the Oscars in my mind. There’s still a bunch of controversies swirling around the nominations, the latest one focusing on Andrea Riseborough‘s nomination in the Best Actress category. Apparently, The Academy is conducting a review of the campaign procedures of To Leslie to ensure the competition is conducted in a fair and ethical manner. Heh, for some reason the fact that it’s a grassroots campaign where neither the studio nor the actress is paying a dime to get her peers and colleagues to vouch (and vote) for her is suspect, while studios running expensive FYC campaigns is not??! Where’s the logic in that?! I’ve already talked about my views of Riseborough’s nomination in this post, and I’m definitely in her corner. It’s a shame that the Academy is tainting her well-deserved nom in this way.
What I do want to highlight here are some of my favorite music scores of 2022. I thought it’d be fitting to do so my first Music Break post of the year. I’ll do my best to make Music Break a monthly thing going forward.
Now, I personally am not all that enthused about the Best Original Score nominations this year, which consist of these five:
- All Quiet on the Western Front Volker Bertelmann
- Babylon Justin Hurwitz
- The Banshees of Inisherin Carter Burwell
- Everything Everywhere All at Once Son Lux
- The Fabelmans John Williams
I haven’t seen All Quiet on the Western Front but I’ve heard of the score on YouTube. As for the rest, well, Babylon‘s scores sound a bit similar to La La Land and though I adore John Williams’ work, The Fabelmans‘ is one of the very few of his scores that I don’t find all that memorable. I barely remember the score of Everything Everywhere, so I think Banshees’ is perhaps my fave out of the five nominated. So let’s get to the five scores that I actually LOVE from 2022:
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever – Ludwig Göransson
Now, I’m glad that Rihanna’s song Lift Me Up got in the Best Original Song category, it’s definitely one of my favorite songs of the year that I’ve been listening to over and over. Such a bummer though that Ludwig Göransson’s phenomenal score work gets overlooked. His score for the original Black Panther won an Oscar, but I think the Swedish composer did one better for the sequel to deserve at least a nomination.
Göransson immersed himself in the African beats for the first film. This time he adds Mayan, South American sound, featuring 40 different artists from 4 continents, showcasing two very different types of music that perfectly complement the story.
Decision To Leave – Jo Yeong-wook
Two of my absolute favorite music genres are classical and soundtracks, so naturally I gravitate towards classically-tinged scores like this one. I remember while watching this well-crafted murder mystery how much I enjoy the evocative score. It has a perfect blend of mystery and melancholy, as well as a romantic mood as the two characters become more drawn to one another. I’m just so bummed this film is criminally overlooked at the Oscars, it’s a travesty it didn’t even get a Best International Feature nomination!
I love this Mahler’s Symphony No. 5 (Adagietto) used in the film. Gustav Mahler is having a moment this year as his work is heavily featured in Todd Field’s TÁR as well. I have to admit I’m not super familiar with him compared to fellow greats like Mozart, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Handel, Bach, etc. There’s that sense of heartbreak in this piece that just pierces your soul. SPOILER ALERT – if you haven’t seen this film yet and don’t want to be spoiled, don’t click on the video below as it contains a bunch of clips.
Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio – Alexandre Desplat
The two-time Oscar nominee Alexandre Desplat has been nominated 10 times and won two Oscars. I’m due for a post on my favorite scores by the French composer and this one will definitely make my top 3 along with Little Women and The Imitation Game. It’s just so gorgeous with a playful, whimsical quality but also a tinge of sadness, especially this Carlo’s theme that brought tears to my eyes the first time I heard it. Apparently Desplat had all the instruments for the recording sessions to his score be made of wood!
Ciao Papa could easily be my pick of Song of The Year for me, which is quite a feat in a year filled with wonderful movie songsThe song through which Pinocchio says farewell to Geppetto after he leaves home is just so beautiful and joyously melodic. The metaphors of loss & grief is encapsulated wonderfully in this song, while Gregory Mann’s delicate voice captures the purity of youth. This is Guillermo del Toro’s first foray into songwriting, collaborating with Desplat and lyricist Roeban Katz that I think deserves to be nominated!
The Woman King – Terence Blanchard
I think the most egregious snub of #Oscars2023 is the exclusion of The Woman King from so many worthy categories! Its glorious music is surely one of them. Gina Prince-Bythewood reunites with composer Terence Blanchard two decades after they collaborated on her beautiful romance drama Love & Basketball. Steeped in West African culture, the scores have such a rich, epic sound that wonderfully complements the strength and power of the all-female Agojie warriors. The score also features chants and dance numbers from South African-born Grammy-winning artist Lebo M, whose iconic vocals you’ve heard in Disney’s The Lion King.
I especially love the spirited sound of this training montage score with the playful drums and voice instrumentation. While a lot of the scores feel appropriately solemn, powerful, and inspirational, this score also illustrates the warm friendships among the women fight as well as live and play with each other.
This one has that heroic, defiant sound I expect from a courageous warrior tribe. It’s rousing but also soulful and even spiritual, and the score really transports me to another world, that is the Kingdom of Dahomey, as well as connect me to the Agojie and their inspiring journey.
Top Gun: Maverick – Harold Faltermeyer, Lady Gaga, Hans Zimmer
As the iconic score of John Williams’ Superman makes you believe a man can fly, there’s definitely that soaring feeling. I agree with this article saying that the score instantly captures the unmistakable 1980s nostalgia of Tony Scott’s original Top Gun, especially this track below. Man, the guitar riff by Johnny Marr is just phenomenal! It’s such a rousing and uplifting sound that gives that impression that anything, no matter how crazy, is possible!
No matter how you feel about Tom Cruise, his need for speed and drive for success is legendary! This score is about Maverick–the man, the legend–but you can also apply that to Cruise himself who’s been a bonafide movie star for 4 decades and counting, with no signs of slowing down!
The Batman – Michael Giacchino
Confession: I’m not the biggest Michael Giacchino fan. I mean, he wouldn’t even make my list of top 15 favorite composers. But I absolutely LOVE his score for The Batman. I’m quite surprised by that since I love what Danny Elfman and Hans Zimmer had done with two previous Batman franchises which I think are still amazingly iconic. I remember listening to it even before I saw the film and I immediately loved the brooding, ominous sound using just a four-note motif that builds to a dramatic, melancholic melody.
A sign of a terrific score is one that captures the mood of the film and its characters perfectly and this one definitely does that. It kind of gets under your skin, in a good way, and it would get stuck in my head for days. I also love the piano version of this Sonata of Darkness track which makes it sound even more emotional. Bruce Wayne is clearly an emo guy who’s sensitive and full of angst and this score captures his disturbed state of mind.
Hildur Guðnadóttir’s TÁR and Women Talking
There are barely any female composers in Hollywood so I feel compelled to highlight Icelandic composer Hildur Guðnadóttir who worked on two fantastic scores this year.
So apparently the score for TÁR was ineligible for Oscars, but I still want to highlight that here. Per Variety, it has been it was deemed ineligible because the amount of original, audible music was insufficient, and ran afoul of a second rule that “a score shall not be eligible if it has been diluted by the use of pre-existing music.
There’s a sense of dread and ominous quality about the scores, which can sound a bit unpleasant, but it perfectly captures the mood and personality of its problematic composer protagonist, Lydia Tár.
The string-heavy score of this poignant drama strikes a chord with me. Despite the disturbing nature of its subject matter, there’s a serene quality to the score that alludes to the strong faith of the Mennonite women. “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” – Hebrews 11:1… though it may seem improbable to many of us, there is a sense of hope at the end of the film that defy understanding,
7 thoughts on “Music Break: Top 5 favorite 2022 film scores snubbed by Oscars”
Glad to know there’s love for the score work of Decision to Leave, Pinocchio, The Batman, and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. They should’ve been nominated though the score for Everything Everywhere All at Once is really good but those scores are better. I saw the film yesterday with my mother as I paid $14 for both tickets on a bargain. I thought it was a great film but not the best film of 2022 while my mother thought it was alright.
Glad you finally saw Everything Everywhere movie. That’s a good deal too for 2 people! No, not the best of 2022 but it sure is popular!
I really do think these scores are amazing and Oscar-worthy. If I had my way, I’d easily replace all of the score nominees w/ these.
I would agree with you on that.
As you know I’m way out of the loop when it comes to the Oscars, mostly because I don’t care about it. Lol. But I’m a little shocked that Top Gun: Maverick’s didn’t get nominated, didn’t know that until I see your post here. I love that opening theme since it brought back memories of the first time I saw Top Gun back in my early teens.
I love The Batman’s theme too but I’m wondering the reason it didn’t get nominated is because it didn’t sound that original. If you listen closely, it sounded like Giacchino combined the themes from both Elfman’s and Zimmer’s into this one. Maybe I’m just hearing things but when I first heard it, I was like sounded like both themes from the previous Batman films combined together.
Yeah, considering Top Gun Maverick made the Best Picture noms, I’m shocked too that the score didn’t get nominated. It’s gloriously retro and really takes me back to the 80s. I absolutely loved it and Lady Gaga’s song, too!
Hmmm, I’ve listened to the Batman themes from Elfman and Zimmer often, but I actually don’t think this one sound similar to either of them. I still think those two Batman scores are still superior to Giacchino’s though.
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