Monday, 6 February 2012

Encore Awards (2011 in Review): The Sound of and the Music

I’ve doled out my nominees in two non-traditional categories over the past two days, and now I’m getting started with the traditional Oscar categories – four of them in one fell swoop (and, well five if you count a somewhat traditional category. I’m nothing if not thorough, so I go all out with my year in review, and the “smaller” categories don’t escape my perusal. By now I assume you know the difference between sound editing and sound mixing (if you don’t go HERE, second paragraph). A year later I’m still nonplussed as to the complete shut-out of Shutter Island from all the major award races (2011 ballot). ‘Twas so bizarre, but enough with looking back; on with the nominees.

(construction and creation of sounds and sound effects)


Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part Two

I’ve always appreciated how all the technical elements of the series have never been laid on too thick, but beginning with cumulatively from the first entry we move to less and less of the “real world” until the final film – made up almost completely of the final battle – is essentially completely immersed in the magic. But, it’s not even the sound in the battle that impresses me immediately. I love, for example, the sound effects at work in Gringotts, from the sound of the dragon, to the breaking of the building and the multiplying treasure.
Eddy Joseph, Ray Merrin and Graham Daniel


Remember that sound when the fire consumes Jude Law? I swear that was stuck in head for days. So much of Hugo is about the technical attributes, and each facet is aiding the other. So, the production design and all those gadgets is augmented by the sound they make – the wheels turning on the clock, the parts of the automaton, the sheer brilliance of those memories of Meireles . The creations are enviable.

Eugene Gearty and Philip Stockton


We’re sort of in the dark, we’re sort of not. Insidious is sort of classic-horror, or at least old-school horror – for the good and the bad – and the sound is as important as the visuals. I love, for example, how everything sounds when the ghost-busting team comes in and we see everything through their gadgets. The way it sounds plays a big role in jarring our nerves, and freaking us out.

Joe Dzuban


Special sound effects is already that important for an animated where it’s all about the drawings augmenting the voice work and whatnot. It becomes doubly important when we turn to a film like Rango which has its milieu characterised by two facets which immediately demand the importance of sound. First off, it’s a spaghetti western – so we’ve got to get the feel of that and then it’s dealing with anamorphic animals – so we’ve got slurping lizard tongues, rattlesnakes and whatnot. And it sounds both realistic, and fantastically fantasy like.

 Adam Kopald and Addison Teague
Super 8

Let me put it like this, even though I’m generally taciturn about Super 8 I’d have loved if the entire film was as good with the foreboding clues and the general air of mystery and cataclysmic potential doom as well as the sound design was. Much has been said of the train crash (oddly, mostly for its visuals) but it sound wholly insane and in a GOOD way. Those sounds make me believe the machinations of the story more than the actual story does.

David Acord, Ben Burtt and Adam Kopald

FINALISTS: Drive; Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides; Rise of the Planet of the Apes

HONOURABLE MENTIONS: Fright Night; Hanna; Source Code

(completed soundscape, the amalgamation of music, individual sounds and dialogue)



This is the choice that makes me most rethink myself; I’m not a sound technician, people. And, maybe I confuse the score itself with the soundscape, but ummm…okay. It SOUNDS like the entire film, antiseptic and cold and chilling and very, very effective. It works for me, obviously.

 Oscar Cordova, Dennis Towns and Mark Weingarten


For all the control that Joe Wright wields with this one (I’m so excited thinking of where his career will go) Hanna is one chaotic spectacle. It’s a thriller, it’s a mystery and the sound mixers have to balance the pulsating score, the wild sound effects used to move the story forward, the dialogue to create an ambience that’s disturbing, exciting and so very effervescent.

Roland Winke, Christopher Scarabosio, Craig Berkey and Andrew Dudman
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part Two

About that extended final battle… there’s the possibility of the story getting thrown out the window here. The real stars of the battle are the effects, are they not? So, the sound team finds a balance between the special effects (see those fancy wand tricks, hear those fancy wand tricks) without losing focus of the story.

Dominic Gibbs


What is it…five minutes before there are any perceptible words heard in Hugo? I sort of wonder if should have given the opening more credit in my ballot (here), it looks good but it SOUNDS good. And it’s not just love for the score spilling over, the murmuring of the crowd, the sound of the train merging into the sound of the music to the sound of the clock, the creaking of Cohen’s prosthetic leg. This movie is a technical marvel, y’all.

Tom Fleischman and John Midgley
Take Shelter

When people talk about making the sound team work for a movie, I wager that they’re talking about films like Take Shelter. Visually, alone, the movie shouldn’t be as disconcerting as it turns out to be, but when the assimilation of creepy sounds, the pitter-patter of the rain, THAT SCORE

Will Files

FINALISTS: Jane Eyre; The Tree of Life; We Need to Talk About Kevin

HONOURABLE MENTIONS: Drive; Insidious; Super 8; Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

music nominations after the jump

(Look, I don't care where your song is - once it's an original one, and once it works in relation to the film's themes - I'm there.)


“Star Spangled Man” from Captain America

This song has all the sweet humour, whimsy and panache that I wish the film had half of. Menken is ace at his game, and this isn’t top tier Menken but it tops. I dare you not smile, listen to it again, and then smile.

(Key Moment: ♪ Who'll give the Axis the sack, and is smart as a fox? far as an eagle will soar Who's making Adolph afraid to step out of his box? He knows what we're fighting for! ♪)

music and lyrics: Alan Menken and David Zippel

 “Coeur Volant” from Hugo 

I didn’t even know what the song was saying in English, and I already knew that it was speaking to me. So beautiful, so wistful, so perfect.

(Key Moment: ♪ He was a magician of pictures and poems. A dreamer of dreams, Hiding in shadows ♪)

music and lyrics: Howard Shore


“Shelter” from Take Shelter

It sounds like something Creed would sing…which is NOT a bad thing, I like Creed. It’s a good song on its own, but it elicits that same wavering sadness when you listen to it that leave you a bit despondent, but not mad about it.

(Key Moment: ♪ I don’t know just what we’ll do, I don’t know just where go. All I know is we gotta move, all I know is to keep you close. ♪)

music and lyrics: Ben Nichols

“Think You Can Wait” from Win Win

The more I think on it, I feel a bit bad for thinking Win Win is just good (not that that being “good” is something shirk at, but it's only just good), it’s highpoints soar. And, this song manages to capture that tentative sweetness that’s not quite completely happy.

(Key Moment: ♪ We've been running a sleepless run Been away from the baby way too long We've been holding a good night gone We've been losing our exits one by one. ♪)

music and lyrics: The National

“So Long” from Winnie the Pooh

So, Zooey Deschanel is a wicked good songwriter. Who knew? This number could border on being something annoyingly pat, but it’s perfectly sweet and just when you think it’s just a pretty bauble you actually listen to the lyrics and they’re excellent.

(Key Moment: ♪ Well I could be the blossom, And you could be the bee, And then I could call you honey. ♪)

music and lyrics: Zooey Deschanel

FINALIST: “Hanna’s Theme” from Hanna; “Man or Muppet” from The Muppets (Bret McKenzie)

HONOURABLE MENTIONS: “Lay Down Your Head” from Albert Nobbs (Glenn Close and Sinead O’Connor); “Life’s a Happy Song” from The Muppets (Bret McKenzie); “The Backson Song” from Winnie the Pooh (Robert Lopez)

Sometimes the music is as necessary in moving arcs along as actual dialogue and movements, sometimes I just can't resist tuneful melodies....



There’s all this élan in the score and it’s very much ON – like all the time. And, one of the weird thing is that it feels as if should be discordant because half of the fun of Hanna is the way all the anomalous bits fit together creating this incongruous thing that’s just a whole lot of fun (even if the individual parts are better than the completed whole).

(Key Moment: Hanna’s Getaway)

composer: The Chemical Brothers


Like the entire movie the music is just gorgeous! It makes me feel so sad, and excited, and happy. And, true, it’s such a throwback to classic music, but who cares when it’s so in touch with its film and when the film gets too emotional for words the music makes it soar.

(Key Moment: The opening)

composer: Howard Shore

The Ides of March

Yeah, the sound tram sort of overuses this. But, can you really blame them for being so in love with Desplat’s work? How could you possibly? The score is so with the emotions of the movie that in another world it could be terribly overwrought, but all those key revelations in the plots are brilliantly complemented by the music.

(Key Moment: The car drive to the abortionist.)

composer: Alexadre Desplat

Take Shelter

Hey, what’s up with the technical aspects of this film being completely forgotten? Hell, what’s up with the entire movie being seemingly forgotten. The use of the score, but still significant in those vital moments, and I love it most for its discordance that’s never too jarring.

(Key Moment: The opening)

composer: David Wingo

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Like I mentioned in my review, every technical aspect (score included) is at work ensuring that even as the film is technically examining those facets of typical bravura, it maintains the oppressive note of sadness and melancholy that makes this about so much more than the final reveal.

(Key Moment: Peter’s library search.)

composer: Alberto Iglesias

FINALISTS: There’s this scene in Howards End where a bit character talks about sublime noise, Martinez’s work in Contagion is full of ambient and it sounds like noise, sublimely; if anyone can replace Desplat as my favourite composer of the moment it’s Dario Marianelli, if only he worked more often. For a film of fine technical achievements, his score for Jane Eyre is THE best thing in the entire movie.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS: The Adjustment Bureau; The Artist; Beginners; Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close; Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part Two

(or use of music, non original)



It sort of goes without saying, I guess. But, yeah, the music is good. Paolo mentions that the film lets the music do its job for it sometimes, and I get where he’s coming from. That doesn’t make it any less good, though.

(Key Moment: The drive with Irene and her son.)


Everything, really. But, 100 extra points for the creepy as fuck use of Tiny Tim’s music in that dream sequence. So very chilling.

(Key Moment: What do you think? See above.)


Like The Tree of Life it makes fine use of the classics in a contemporary setting ad it’s because the story is the same regardless of the strictures of setting which is why the billowing music works so excellently.

(Key Moment: The opening, naturally.)


Help! Sure, I haven’t been searching hard enough but those notes that open and close the film – WHAT ARE THEY? The Messenger was mostly devoid of music, this has trappings of music all around, on the streets, in the club. It’s always there, always energetic – like its protagonist.

(Key Moment: In addition to the opening and close, I like the snatches of music on that “date” with Sarah.)

The Tree or Life

Desplat, and classics go together excellently. True, by the time the end comes around that scene sort of puts me out the slightest but it’s all very, very transcendent. And, considering how often it’s all about the visual, free of conversation, we need the music.

(Key Moment: The bit with Mrs. O’Brian and the boys.)

FINALISTS: The Muppets; Young Adult


Previously: Outstanding Openings / Forgotten Characters

So, the sound of and music. What would your choices look like?


Chip Lary said...

I liked the song from Captain America. Yes, it was a little cheesy, but that was the whole point. It was written to mimic the very patriotic songs of the era and the writers did a very good job.

Paolo said...

Yay I got a mention. I do listen to Kavinsky songs because of Drive. And the section for Best Song has more variety than what the Academy thought. Them: Muppets vs. women's pictures. Yours: despite the Muppets snub, awesome.

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

chip AND you can see how much work menken put into the music as well as the lyrics (so many song writers seem to focus on lyrics and just string a tune together). the song's a gem, oscar love or not.

paolo the muppet snub might make me a pariah around the blogosphere.