Magazine article Variety

Spectrum of Sound

Magazine article Variety

Spectrum of Sound

Article excerpt

IT'S HARD TO IMAGINE a more diverse quintet of original-score nominees: a warmly melodic accompaniment to an unlikely love story, the banging-and-grinding sounds of a desperate wartime rescue, folky colors for an angry Midwestern mom, lush strings and piano for 1950s England, and the classic symphonic sound of "Star Wars."

It's also a very different mix than last year's group, which was mostly newcomers to the Oscar race. In 2018the only newbie is English composer Jonny Greenwood, and whether his fame as Radiohead multi-instrumentalist will help the rocker win for his emotionally cool "Phantom Thread" music is an intriguing question.

The early money is on French composer Alexandre Desplat for his undeniably romantic score for "The Shape of Water," which gave voice to the mute custodian played by Sally Hawkins. He's already won the Golden Globe and Critics Choice Award. Yet Oscar history suggests that voters might look elsewhere. Only four times in the past 25 years has the dramatic-score Oscar gone to a previous winner. Desplat won in 2014 for "Grand Budapest Hotel."

Perennial nominee Hans Zimmer worked for seven months on the sounds of "Dunkirk," not just tailoring his music to the movie, but also intertwining it with sound effects for what he calls "one immersive experience" - so complete that it's often hard to tell where music ends and sound design begins.

Carter Burwell's dark and spare score for "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri" may have an outside chance because of the popularity of the film; plus he's an in-demand composer who's never won.

Veteran observers say that the least likely winner is actually the most successful composer: John Williams for the latest "Star Wars" movie, "The Last Jedi," a massive 2½-hour score for the series' eighth installment; Williams won his third Oscar for the original "Star Wars" in 1977.


Hans Zimmer

Oscar record: one win, nine other nominations

Musical style: Primarily electronic sounds driving the tension

Artist's POV: "We worked very hard at maintaining synchronicity between the music and sound effects. Sometimes the Moonstone, the little boat, would become my bass line, and very carefully manipulated to be in time with the music."

Surprising fact: Director Christopher Nolan's own watch supplied the ticking sound in Zimmer's score. …

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