The weakest year for film music in a long time led to significant
difficulty in choosing the Filmtracks awards for 2008. While there were several
scores with flashes of brilliance in individual cues, not one achieved an overall
five-star rating. A relative lack of strength in the music from European composers
(unless you're a fan of Alexandre Desplat), in contrast to adjacent years,
contributed to this lull in memorable scores.
With a surprising four Filmtracks nominations, newcomer Andrew Lockington leads
the field of competitors. Danny Elfman, Joe Hisaishi, and James Newton Howard
follow with three nominations each, and Christopher Lennertz, John Powell, Harry
Gregson-Williams, and James Horner all receive two nominations.
Because Filmtracks awarded no score of the calendar year with a
five-star rating, none of the many four-star scores (reviewed or not) deserves to
stand equal to other years' winners of higher quality. Thus, there is no winner
for this year. Christopher Lennertz's humorous Meet the Spartans
Horner's subtle The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
are a step below the other
three, any of which would have made a decent winner had one been selected.
The runner-up this year is Danny Elfman's Hellboy II: The Golden Army
which features a handful of cues that recall the composer's early melodramatic
beauty. The honorable mentions for 2008 also go mostly to franchises: Harry
Gregson-Williams for The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian
, John Debney
for The Stoning of Soraya M.
, David Arnold for Quantum of Solace
and, for taking us down memory lane, John Williams for Indiana Jones and the
Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
Few can quibble with the production of Danny Elfman in
2008. Not only did he effectively span the action and drama genres with his
talents, he also composed the much delayed The Wolfman
, which took another
two years to hit the theatres. Joe Hisaishi's duo of Ponyo on the Cliff by the
Sea (Gake no ue no Ponyo)
and I Want to Be a Shellfish
lead a wider year of
activity for the composer. John Powell's quantity of music this year is impressive,
and Andrew Lockington's debut in the mainstream with two large-scale fantasy/adventure
scores is a surprising treat.
It's hard not to appreciate the monumental scope of Michael
Giacchino's single parody cue for Cloverfield
, but the sheer majesty of
parts of Andrew Lockington's Journey to the Center of the Earth
difficult to overcome. The pair of cues nominated from Harry Gregson-Williams'
The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian
speaks to the allure of that
score's muscular title theme. Not many light-hearted cues make the cut this year,
the villain's theme from Patrick Doyle's Igor
an exception. Solemn
statements of menace or resilience define many of this year's nominees.