Friday, September 04, 2009

Top 5 List: Great Film Scores Post '90

5. Public Enemies (2009 dir. Michael Mann/Elliot Rosenthal composer)

Sure, this was released just a few months ago, but the soundtrack has already become a staple spin on my Ipod. Mann has always had a great predilection for sweeping, epic music with a bit of electronica thrown in by Moby or Mogwai for good measure... and with "Public Enemies", he turs the spotlight back onto his regular composer, Elliot Rosenthal who churns out a terrific score.

4. 25th Hour (2002 dir. Spike Lee/composer Terence Blanchard)

Another film that benefits from a lasting relationship between director and composer, Blanchard continually brings something moving and fresh to every Lee film. Working from a very emotional place, Blanchard manages to create a genuinely moving companion to the film's story without sounding maudlin or manipulative.

3. Wonderland (1999, dir. Michael Winterbottom/Michael Nyman composer)

The next two slots belong to the same composer- Brit Michael Nyman- who, for a while, seemed to have his hand in just about everything. From his eclectic scores to many Peter Greenaway films to his more commercial vehicles (such as "The Piano") in the 90's, Nyman is a real adventurer. Alot of his pieces sound similiar and there's a striking avant garde experimentation that's downright exciting. In his collaborations with Michael Winterbottom, Nyman strikes an especially resounding chord in "Wonderland", shaping theme music for each charatcer in this merry-go-round group as they deal with life, love and family.

2. Gattaca (1997, dir. Andrew Niccol/Michael Nyman composer)

Seeing "Gattaca" in a sparsely attended theater in late '96 after reading the rave reviewed applied by critic Andrew Sarris, I felt I was in the presence of young greatness. Well, director Andrew Niccol hasn't lived up to those lofty expectations, but Nyman's soundtrack does. Elegant, mournful and perfect for the pristine environment of the movie, it also elevates the emotions as Ethan Hawke finally lifts off from Earth.

1. Requiem For a Dream (2000, dir. Darren Aronofsky/Clint Mansell and the Kronos Quartet)

Long before this piece of music became the spliced together sound for every trailer or forthcoming movie clip, it was a heartbreaking wall of music- simple, refined, then suddenly violent. I could listen to it over and over.... if only it didn't depress me so much. Still, any piece of music that can instill that much power has gotta be doing something right.


Bob Turnbull said...

That Requiem score is pretty amazing...

A few of my faves of the top of my head:

"The Fountain" - Kronos again, this time paired up with Mogwai and performing Clint Mansell's music. Gives me shivers pretty much every time.

"Lady Vengeance" - I'm completely in love with this film and part of the reason is the music.

"Ocean's Twelve" - David Holmes did the music for all 3 of Soderbergh's playful experiments and I can't imagine they would be anywhere near as enjoyable without them.

"Code 46" - The whole score by Free Association puts a dream-like spell over the film.

It's not often I actually go out and pick up the score for a film, but I own all of the above.

Fletch said...

Love your choices, and Bob's as well. I would've mentioned Holmes work with the Ocean's (and Out of Sight) along with Code 46 and The Fountain as well.

I'd forgotten how great the Gattaca score is; it's been too long since I've watched that one.

Two others I must mention: the breezy, perfect Get Shorty one by John Lurie and the practically infamous Last of the Mohicans score, used to excellent effect in some Nike football ads some years back.