PGCMAs: Best Soundtrack, Use of Source Music, and Score (2013)

Posted: January 26, 2014 by Daniel Simpson (PG Cooper) in PGCMAs

Written by Daniel “PG Cooper” Simpson PGCMA 2013*The above image represents 2012’s PGCMA Best Director and Best Picture winner; Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master.

Best Soundtrack

A new award for me, Best Soundtrack looks at the compilation of songs used in the film. These include original songs and pre-existing ones. The important thing is not just to have good songs, but ones that complement the film.

American HustleIf there’s one way David O. Russell out-Scorsesed Martin Scorsese in 2013, it was in the soundtrack department. A wide range of 70s rock is used to great effect from Paul McCartney to America. Both classic and original songs from the Electric Light Orchestra add a lot as well.

Frances HaFrances Ha may look hipster, but it doesn’t sound like it. Instead, the soundtrack is mostly made up of classic rock songs as well as some songs from he scores of French New Wave. It’s an interesting mix which is also led me to some cool music.

The Great GatsbyMany have criticized the anachronistic soundtrack of Gatsby but I liked it quite a bit. It isn’t accurate to the time, but it is to the feel, and in a film like this that’s more important. Plus that Lana Del Rey song is pretty good.

Inside Llewyn DavisReplicating a bygone music era and trying to pass it off as authentic is a daunting task, but musicians T-Bone Burnett and Marcus Mumford (of Mumford and Sons fame) prove up to the task. The original songs are really good and feel genuine, and the covers are pretty good too.

Spring Breakers Skrillex, Britney Spears, Walka Flocka Fame; not the kind of music that goes through my rotation. However their work is perfectly suited for a film like Spring Breakers and often the marriage of the soundtrack with the visuals provided the film’s best moments. Ending on Elle Goulding’s “Lights” was a nice choice as well.

And The Winner Is…

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Inside Llewyn Davis

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The fact that Inside Llewyn Davis is composed of mostly original music made it really hard not to give it the award. When you add on the challenge of replicating the 60s folk scene, how essential the music is to the film, and just how good the songs are, it becomes clear this is the only film that could win this award this year.

Best Use of Source Music

This award looks at how a film uses pre-existing music for a desired effect. Again, the focus isn’t so much on how good the song is, but how well it’s used.

“Every1’s a Winner” by Hot Chocolate, Frances HaAs Frances walks around Paris having a pretty disappointing evening, this Hot Chocolate song plays. The irony is obvious, but what really makes it work is the song’s playful nature. The scene still has a certain sadness, but it also doesn’t take itself too seriously.

“Everytime” by Britney Spears, Spring BreakersAs Alien sings a soulful rendition of this Britney Spears’ “classic”, the film cuts between the song and the group performing a series of violent crimes. I’m a sucker for ironic music choices and this scene has the added layer of the characters treating someone like Spears as if she were a true artist.

“I Will Always Love You” by Whitney Houston, This is the EndI won’t spoil the scene for those who haven’t seen the film yet, but this was a nugget of comedy gold. Not that inspired a song choice, but it gave me a big laugh all the same.

“Live and Let Die” by Paul McCartney and Wings, American HustleThe image of Jennifer Lawrence aggressively cleaning her home while singing along to this classic Bond song might be one of my favourite film images of 2013. In many ways, this scene encapsulates the movie very well. It’s aggressive, hilarious, and dripping 1970s.

“The Snow Angel” by Mike Patton, The Place Beyond the PinesIf the title isn’t familiar, it’s the song that was used in the second half of the film’s trailer. I originally thought this instrumental was part of the score, but it turns out Patton composed it for another film and Derek Cianfrance just re-used it here. Anyway, the song hits the right emotional chord and works as an effective unofficial theme for the film.

And The Winner Is…

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“Everytime” by Britney Spears, Spring Breakers

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Definitely not the kind of music I choose to listen to in my spare time, but I can’t deny “Everytime” is an inspired choice for the scene which works on multiple levels. The scene works in the context of the rest of the film’s themes, as well as in isolation as a hypnotic and well-executed scene.

Best Score

The last of the music awards, this award looks at the composers and their original work created for the film.

Christopher Drake, Batman: The Dark Knight ReturnsDrake is a veteran of DC having done a few of their animated films as well as recently scoring the videogame Batman: Arkham Origins. Here, Drake perfectly captures the darkness, excitement, defeat, and triumph of the story. It has a number of good songs that really do aid some great scenes.

Cliff Martinez, Only God ForgivesMartinez is known for his techno-esque scores, and here he infuses that with a haunting sense of dread. The result is a score which not only complements the film well, but is also fun to listen to on its own merits.

Steven Price, GravityA relative unknown, Price made his presence as a composer known strongly with his work on Gravity. The score needs to be many things, from beautiful and hopeful to intense and horrifying. However Price accomplishes it all seamlessly and the music really matches the film perfectly.

Hanan Townshend, To the WonderI don’t really love Terrence Mallick’s films, but they are absolutely loaded with beauty. The score by Townshend certainly fits that bill while also feeling quite grand and it merges with Mallick’s visuals nicely.

Hans Zimmer, Man of SteelJohn Williams’ original score is a classic, there’s no doubt about that. But at the same time, a new score was needed and Zimmer did a great job. He doesn’t try to emulate Williams’ work, but instead creates something darker while still remaining heroic at the core.

And The Winner Is…

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Steven Price, Gravity

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No film this year had a more perfect marriage of audio and visuals than Gravity. Price’s score is completely in line with what Cuarón is doing on screen. The way the score changes over the course of the film also makes for a nice companion to Ryan Stone and her arc.

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