OSCARS 2018: Best Original Music Score

Michael Giacchino – COCO
Hans Zimmer – DUNKIRK
Roger Suen – GOOK
Jonny Greenwood – PHANTOM THREAD
Alexandre Desplat – THE SHAPE OF WATER

Outside of the characteristically brassy score for Pixar’s annual Oscar®-bait effort COCO, I went with music scores that went with setting a mood or atmosphere for their respective narratives. Roger Suen’s workaday score for Justin Chon’s film festival circuit darling GOOK echoes the social melodramas that inspired director Chon (DO THE RIGHT THING, anyone?); while Alexandre Desplat’s ethereal and atmospheric work on THE SHAPE OF WATER fits the chill of Cold War-era Baltimore, MD like a steel vise. Jonny Greenwood’s score for PHANTOM THREAD succeeds in the way that soundtrack written for a Douglas Sirk-era drama is supposed to work — dreamy yet vaguely oppressive, which is the sum of what can be expected for most tortured British dramas. A surprising and deserved selection would have to be Hans Zimmer’s tension-inducing soundtrack for DUNKIRK, which is best appreciated when one realizes that Zimmer’s droning score — that can turn into the terrifying screech of dive bombers or the swell of crashing waves — works in lockstep with the cinematography, editing, and sound design of Christopher Nolan’s intense historical drama. All in all, a decidedly diverse grouping of music score recommendations. This is one in which I might actually have to pat myself on the back.


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