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Filmtracks Awards: 2008
Decorative Nonsense
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.
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 •The Boy in the Striped Pajamas (James Horner)
 •Defiance (James Newton Howard)
 •Journey to the Center of the Earth (Andrew Lockington)
 •Meet the Spartans (Christopher Lennertz)
 •Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea (Gake no ue no Ponyo) (Joe Hisaishi) ** using Japanese release year

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 and James 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.
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Danny Elfman
 •Joe Hisaishi
 •Andrew Lockington
 •John Powell

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.
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 •The Boy in the Striped Pajamas (James Horner)  "An Odd Discovery Beyond the Trees"
 •The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian (Harry Gregson-Williams)  "Raid on the Castle"
 •The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian (Harry Gregson-Williams)  "Return of the Lion"
 •Cloverfield (Michael Giacchino)  "Roar! Overture"
 •Defiance (James Newton Howard)  "Nothing is Impossible"
 •Hancock (John Powell)  "Death and Transfiguration"
 •The Happening (James Newton Howard)  "Be With You"
 •Hellboy II: The Golden Army (Danny Elfman)  "The Last Elemental"
 •Igor (Patrick Doyle)  "Evil Bone"
 •The Incredible Hulk (Craig Armstrong)  "The Arctic" *
 •Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (John Williams)  "The Jungle Chase"
Journey to the Center of the Earth (Andrew Lockington)  "The Center of the Earth"
 •Journey to the Center of the Earth (Andrew Lockington)  "Building the Raft"
 •Meet the Spartans (Christopher Lennertz)  "A God King Falls"
 •Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea (Gake no ue no Ponyo) (Joe Hisaishi)  "Underwater Town"
 •Quantum of Solace (David Arnold)  "The Palio"
 •The Silver Season (Naoki Sato)  "Goal"
 •The Stoning of Soraya M. (John Debney)  "The Stoning of Soraya M."
 •Valkyrie (John Ottman)  "They'll Remember You" **
 •Wanted (Danny Elfman)  "Fox's Decision"

* rejected from film
** co-written by Lior Rosner

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 proves too 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.
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