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Best Film Scores of 2011 (Midyear review)

Since a film obviously isn’t a complete film without a score, then it’s only appropriate that we feature film scores in this blog. (Although some movies are brave enough to abstain from a score and still get away with it) I admit, I’m a film score junkie and I collect movie OSTs in a listen and discard kind of way. There are some tracks that are worth a repeat listen and I usually keep a playlist of must listen again tracks. I also don’t hold a degree in musicology or whatever but I know a good film score when I hear one and often times my favorite picks happen to be nominated in the Golden Globes and Oscars which probably gives me some right to act like a diva. So there, that’s practically the premise of including film scores to this blog.

We’ve already reached half of the year and it seems we already have a few OSTs worth featuring. A lot of these OSTs are from movies which I have not yet seen though so I might have missed film scores which worked well in the context of the film. The usual suspects are here and some choices aren’t surprising. But considering we’re still halfway, these will likely be overshadowed by more powerful and beautiful scores especially come awards season.

1) Kung Fu Panda 2 by Hans Zimmer and John Powell. Now, Zimmer and Powell is simply a match made in heaven. Powell who wowed the audience last year with the brilliant Oscar nominated (and my favorite OST and bet for 2010) How to Train Your Dragon collaborated with Academy Award winner Zimmer to produce this beautiful action score that nicely complements the film’s stunning visuals. While Powell may have missteps in ‘Rio’ and ‘Mars Needs Moms’ he makes up for it in Kung Fu Panda 2. Some themes may seem familiar considering this is a Zimmer production and it carries with it the style of the other composers of Remote Control Productions but it’s so grand and epic it feels fresh and brand new despite recycling some themes (check out the 2nd to the last track which is reminiscent of Jablonsky’s scores-another Remote Control composer)

2) Battle Los Angeles by Brian Tyler. I’ve been a big fan of Brian Tyler ever since he released the magnificent ‘Children of Dune’ soundtrack which today still sits on my ‘for repeat listen’ playlist. If you’re familiar with his style then you will love this soundtrack which is mostly composed of action themes which seems reminiscent of Remote Control composers. In fact this can be easily mistaken as a score by Hans Zimmer or Steve Jablonsky. There are beautiful recurring themes in this OST spread across 22 tracks but the highlight is the second track ‘Battle Los Angeles Main Titles’ which steals the show. This action piece is so bombastic that it’s probably safe to label this as one of the best action tracks this year.

3) Thor by Patrick Doyle. This is an enthralling soundtrack with mostly exhilarating action cues. There is a recurring theme here that is present in most tracks and it’s one of the most memorable and heroic tunes I’ve heard this year. The album also contains a few dramatic and romantic tracks that are effective and evocative but they ultimately are not up to the standards of other dramatic scores. The soundtrack is very satisfying on first listen but successive listens seem to wash away its appeal for some reason. Despite that it’s a competently made soundtrack that stands as one of the best this early on in the year.

4) Source Code by Chris Bacon. Chris Bacon is a relatively new composer having worked alongside James Newton Howard in King Kong and I am Legend. This soundtrack took me by surprise having expected something unremarkable for a movie this humble and small. The first track alone is worth a repeat listen, an action piece that’s intense and relentless it’s quite invigorating for something that comes first in a playlist. The soundtrack is mostly composed of action and suspenseful themes with recurring motifs and themes some of which may feel monotonous on repeat listens. Despite that, this is one solid action soundtrack and Chris Bacon, despite a few missteps in previous works, is a name to look out for.

5) Priest by Christopher Young. Now this is a rather eclectic choice. I haven’t seen the movie and will avoid it as long as I can (the trailer alone makes it look like a pile of turd). Young’s score is bombastic, violent, intoxicating, suspenseful and evokes a gothic feel unlike any soundtrack this year. The use of the orchestra with full choral and gong accompaniment in some tracks is stunning and worth a repeat listen. There are hints of the usual mainstream action cues here ala Zimmer and Remote Control Productions but Young manages to create something original and exhilarating here. It’s a unique if vaguely familiar soundtrack but it won’t be for everyone.

There are other notable soundtracks this year but so far these are the ones that have caught my interest. No doubt I’ll probably be interested in Alexander Desplat’s Harry Potter score this year and his Tree of Life (which I’m currently listening to right now) as well as Jablonsky’s score for the upcoming Transformers 3, and maybe a couple of other movies out there for which no OSTs have yet been released. But as it stands, these 5 are my current favorites.

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About moiaxmd

Film. Music. Books. Art.

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