Thomas Newman

annakarenina10

There are currently only two Academy Awards given out for music: Best Original Score and Best Original Song. This might seem like a silly thing to point out, but it wasn’t always the case. As recently as 1998 there were separate categories for Dramatic Score and Musical or Comedy Score, divided like the Golden Globes divide their acting and picture awards. And in the past there’s been a Best Adaptation Score, the name of which was changed over and over again, while back in the late 1930s there were another two separate categories, Best Scoring and Best Original Score. Music at the Oscars has had a complicated history. The context makes it all the more strange that, with only the Best Original Score category left, stuff can get thrown out for being too “adapted.” True Grit and Black Swan were both declared ineligible for nomination because they were based on 19th Century hymns and Swan Lake, respectively. The Academy, which once went out of its way to recognize adaptation in musical composition, now rejects it entirely. This year, however, in both musical categories the best work is full of allusion and the blending of influences. Gone are the days of Max Steiner and Bernard Herrmann, whose music was often brilliant but tended to strive for originality within a single orchestral playbook.

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Culture Warrior

Two nights ago, Aaron Sorkin’s heavily-anticipated and rather polarizing new show The Newsroom aired its debut on HBO. With the pilot’s central focus on the BP oilrig explosion, the premium cable network has established itself (alongside with their recent TV movies) as the primary venue for dramatizing recent political history. However, other contemporary television shows have addressed political issues well beyond the headlines of the past few years. In this election year, it seems that TV comedies and dramas from several networks have a surprising amount to say about the political process in a way that resonates with this uncertain, often frustrating moment. Here’s how The Newsroom stacks up against a triumvirate of other TV shows with overtly political themes…

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Could a first-look photo be more dull than this? It’s just James Bond sitting poolside, like any other Joe Shmoe. Where’s the excitement? Where’s the guns? Where’s, I dunno, James Bond’s face? This is a photo which could be from almost any type of film, nothing screams “Bond.” It’s such an odd photo to release, but, then again, it’s a still for a film almost a year away. By looking at this photo, a part of me can’t help but to imagine the parody version of Sam Mendes‘s Bond outing, since it only features the character staring down all sad-like. Imagine Bond narrating, “My name is James Bond. This is my neighborhood. This is my street. This is my life. I’m 42 years old. In less than a year, I’ll be dead,” as a whimsical but sad Thomas Newman score abruptly plays over Bond’s snark. If the franchise character gets even an inch mopier than what we saw in Quantum of Solace, I could see it being something along those lines. Or maybe Mendes will get the franchise back on the right track, which I feel fairly confident about. Take a look at Bond seriously debating if he should go back in the pool or not:

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Thomas Newman had his first feature job as an Orchestrator on Return of the Jedi, and has since crafted a career scoring more movies than you can shake a stick at (go ahead, try it). His most recent work includes moving music for Wall-E, The Help, Revolutionary Road and Little Children. He’s got a moderate spectrum of style, but it’s clear he focuses on dramatic, sweeping work. Beyond the third entry on that list, he also composed for American Beauty, Road to Perdition, and Jarhead; it looks like his working relationship with Sam Mendes has brought about a job on Skyfall. According to MI6 HQ, the ten-time Oscar nominee has been hired to maestro some notes for the forthcoming Bond film. Fantastic news all around. His work for Shawshank Redemption might be one of the best scores in modern movies, and anyone who helped make Real Genius should get every job ever. However, this move also means that composer David Arnold, who has worked on Bond from Tomorrow Never Dies through Quantum of Solace will have to skip this one. Apparently, he’ll be unavailable due to his duties with the London Olympics in 2012.

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