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Thursday, 9 April 2015

The Underdog Awards 2015: Part 3

The Underdog Awards

Music Category

(Best Score and Best Soundtrack)



Before I dive right in, let me first make a slight edit. In my rush to put out the Underdog Awards, I forgot to really analyze a lot of my nominees especially the music section which I am weak at judging. As such I was unable to really decide whether a few films really deserved their nomination in these sections.

Specifically speaking of the soundtrack and the difference it has to the background score. See the soundtrack can be the overall collection of sound elements such as dialogue, songs and score in a film. Or it can simply be the licensed music used within a film.

Where as the score is an instrumental piece created for the benefit of producing the right atmosphere of a film.

In favor I thus removed both Only Lovers Left Alive and Inherent Vice from the soundtrack, despite them having licensed music. I felt however the Begin Again and The Guest were better for it, with some music I could personally get behind and gave feel to their own severely underrated films.

So anyways, let's just move on and here goes...

Underdog Award for Best Soundtrack

In this case; Best Soundtrack relates to the best set of created or licensed music for a film. This year had some really funky soundtracks and some terrific songs. I mean for months nobody could get over the 'Everything is Awesome' fever.

Selma had a great soundtrack for a period film, just on the basis of 'Glory' by Common and John Legend.

The soundtrack of Boyhood seeped into a pop culture lexicon while transforming itself in the twelve years depending on the youth choice and popularity of each time.

Anyways here's some honorable before we dive deep,

Honorable Mentions: Inherent Vice and Only Lovers Left Alive (good music, not my thing; better scores),  Hellion, This is Where I Leave You, The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby, Dear White People, Palo Alto, Blue Ruin, Get On Up, Jersey Boys, Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1, Lego Movie and Skeleton Twins

And the nominees are...

The Guardians of The Galaxy 

(Hooked on A Feeling by Blue Swede, Go All the Way by Raspberries, Spirit in The Sky by Norman Greenbaum, Moonage Daydream by David Bowie, Fooled Around and Fell in Love by Elvin Bishop, I'm not in Love by 10cc, I want you back by Jackson 5, Come and Get Your Love by Redbone, Cherry Bomb by The Runaways, Escape by Rupert Holmes, O-o-oh Child by Five Stairsteps and Ain't No Mountain High Enough by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terell)

Featuring a vast array of popular and catchy music from the 70's and 80's, the music in Marvel's latest blockbuster defines its lead character with aplomb and keeps the viewer moving along with this wacky, fun space ride.

The music and the walkman symbolize Peter Quill's last connection to back home. Yet it's also fun. 'Hooked on A Feeling' being all the rage for the promotion of the film and 'O-o-oh Child' forming the basis of the crux of the climax, and the most hilarious moment in the film. 'Aint no Mountain High Enough' ending the film on an energetic high.

At the end of the day, this fun, fantastic and pop culture entwined music hits you right in the heart and keeps the audience tethered to Quill's humanity and the Guardians heroism. 

The Guest

(Haunted when the Minutes Drag by Love and Rockets, Hourglass by SURVIVE, Anthonio by Annie, The Magician by Mike Simonetti, Masquerade by Clan of Xymox, Omniverse by SURVIVE, Because I Love You by Stevie B, Storm Column by Gatekeeper, A Day by Clan of Xymox, Emma by The Sisters of Mercy, Obsidian by Gatekeeper and Cry in the Wind by Clan of Xymox)

As many have put it; Adam Wingard's The Guest is Terminator meets Halloween. With that in mind, the tunes of the film enthrall you in a fearsome goth vibe with 80's electric music. The beats just strike like thunder across a multitude of scenes from those that define the pop culture vibe of the youth in Alabama, to the darkest recesses of the feature where David resides and strikes from.

There's a dream like flow to the music, that hits at the highest points and mesmerizes the listener and viewer keeping them encapsulated in this wacky and mysterious world. It matches the often neon-like color palette that much of the latter part of the hard hitting climax sets itself in.

Electrifying you sense in each moment, is a soundtrack that hasn't been as zingy and lively since Drive. 


(Jon's Crap Songs by Domhnall Gleeson, Ginger Crouton by Michael Fassbender, The Soronprfbs and Stephen Rennicks, Welcome To Vetno by Stephen Rennicks, Aviary by The Soronprfbs, Lone Standing Tuft by Michael Fassbender, Walking Down The Street by Domhnall Gleeson, Be Still by Scoot McNairy, The La La La Song by Domhnall Gleeson, Idiot Shriek by Stephen Rennicks, Jon's Song by Michael Fassbender, Domhnall Gleeson and Stephen Rennicks, Secure the Galactic Parameter by Michael Fassbender, The Soronprfbs and Stephen Rennicks, Frank's Most Likeable Song Ever by Michael Fassbender and Stephen Rennicks, #findfrank by Stephen Rennicks, Lighthouse Keeper by Maggie Gyllenhaal, The Soronprfbs and Stephen Rennicks and I Love You All by Michael Fassbender, The Soronprfbs and Stephen Rennicks)

Based around the most quirkiest band you will ever see; Frank Sidebottom and The Soronprfbs. Frank's music is basically all the weird but artistic work that the band makes for their own inner creative satisfaction rather than to just get their name out there. Easily reflecting the characters own unity, oddity, creativity and nicety.

The soundtrack is composed by Stephen Rennicks and sung by much of the films own cast, adding a nice authenticity to the music. At the centerpiece is the genuine tear jerker sung wonderfully by Michael Fassbender known as 'I Love You All'. It is the song that defines this bands work ethic, they love being together and making music together for each other. Franks return to the fold coming at the climatic end, providing a high unlike anything else.

Even the other music flows neatly into the narrative. Including the opening 'Jons Crap Songs' that essentially design the lead character Jon as a somewhat nervous, confused and dreaming wreck. His music becoming a focal point for understanding that he doesn't fit with a bunch of wonderful misfits, the main arc of the script.

In Frank each piece holds weight despite not being traditional music or a soundtrack. It's why it fits so well, cause it works like The Soronprfbs and well is The Soronprfbs; quirky, fun, for oneself who cares what the world thinks. 


(Childhood by Craig Armstrong, Building a Mystery by Sarah McLachlan, White Flag by Dido, Color Blind by Counting Crows, On ne Change Pas by Celine Dion, Blue by Eiffel 65, Wonderwall by Oasis, Welcome To My Life by Simple Life, Vivo Per Lei by Andrea Bocelli, Phase by Beck, Experience by Ludvico Einaudi and Born To Die by Lana Del Ray)

In Mommy, the trio of lead characters love for Celine Dion is exemplified in one of its best and fun scenes. The 'On ne change pas' scene giving us the moment to believe in quiet neighbor Kyla's smooth and friendly transition into the lives of this odd erratic couple of mother and son.

It's not the only music that shines however, in this eclectic collection of 90's songs. In 'Wonderwall' we find the changes Kyla brings to the equation, forcing both Die and Steve to try and change for the better and one to reflect on Steve's own spirited carefree self.

Ludovico Einaudi's 'Experience' presenting such dream like music, that it distracts us from how false Die's fantasy of Steve's stable life is, we believe it because the music makes us. The music enthralling us such, that it allows the gut punching finale to hit one that much worse.

In Mommy, each piece of music Xavier Dolan chooses makes sense. It adds a light touch and breeziness to proceedings, but hides untold depths as well. 

Begin Again

(Lost Stars by Adam Levine/Keira Knightley, Tell Me If You Wanna Go Home by Keira Knightley, No one Else Like You by Adam Levine, A Higher Place by Adam Levine, Like A Fool by Keira Knightley and Roof Top Mix by Keira Knightley and Hailee Steinfeld)

Last year it was 'Please Mr. Kennedy', this year the Academy missed out on regarding one of the best original songs you'll hear in the past year; none other than 'Lost Stars' as sung by Keira Knightley. Knightley's gorgeous rendition of the music would be the only reason to nominate this whole soundtrack.

Then factor in some great work from the likes of Gregg Alexander, Nick Lashley, Rick Nowels, Nick Southwood and performed wonderfully by Adam Levine and you've got music that makes the movie. One of the best of course being the duet by Hailee Steinfeld and Knightley known as the 'Roof Top Mix'. Adding wonders in terms of character, just like director John Carney did years ago in 'Once'.

The feel good factor in the music is there and just listening to 'Lost Stars' will get you hooked. This is an album worth cherishing.

And the Winner is...


Underdog Award for Best Original Score

The background score of a film sets the mood and tone that the director eventually wants to convey. Some of the best scores fit perfectly in tune with the idea of the film, or can also be a great juxtaposing character creating in form conflicts.

This year's musical scores have been some of the most fantastic. Just sifting through the Oscar nominees, can bring chills for how each musical piece is such a perfect companion to its overall cinematic piece.

Regulars like Hans Zimmer and Alexandre Desplat dominated that circuit, with Desplat finally winning the big one for his soft, sweet and wacky work in The Grand Budapest Hotel.

But right now let's take a look at the Underdogs of this game from last year (including the Underdog of Underdogs)

Honorable Mentions: The Babadook, The Double, Clouds of Sils Maria, The Drop, A Most Violent Year, Godzilla, Still Alice, Blue Ruin, Fury and The Rover 

Federale for A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night

With a genre bending structure, Anna Lily Amirpour's directorial debut was bound to feature a wide variety of genre of scores. At the top of the list is a typically western tune produced by the band Federale that sets the outlaw western mood, breathing character into the films emptiest frames and the darkest recesses of the city.

Beyond that there's a terrific mix of hypnotic rock ballads and trance scores that provide the film with the spark of life it needs in at times juxtaposing the dark blacks and whites on screen. It's the blend however that is most perfect, as neither part of the score feels separate from the other and share a sensation of being the narrative itself.

Josef Van Wissem for Only Lovers Left Alive

Amirpour was influenced by the likes of Jim Jarmusch, and with her inclination to make the music the back bone of her narrative, there's no doubt Jarmusch is a master at doing that too.

Working with frequent collaborator, Dutch composer Josef Van Wissem; they get a score that embodies the sort of lyrical, poetic, artistic and ancient world Eve and Adam come from and the ages they've lived through.

With Adam settled into a life of a recluse musician, it's no wonder that Jarmusch gets his composer to pull out old tricks; an array of vintage records that suits the man historical inclination towards the arts of old rather than the mimicry from the new. As for Eve living in Tangerines, we get the highlights of Arabian flavored tones that are trumped especially towards the finale as Adam is mesmerizes by the singing of a local.

That fascinatingly cultural stand the music plays on, entwines itself with the artistic decay that Eve and Adam feel underneath-yet in a Jarmusch moody and dull witty way come to accept-in the film.

Jonny Greenwood for Inherent Vice

PTA has always had a great knack for musical scores. He embraced this early on, with the wonderful works that just seeped in and out of his darkly humorous Boogie Nights, especially during key montage sequences.

With his latest, he once again works in perfect sync with Radiohead member Jonny Greenwood, who has helped bring that old touch into his latter period setting works.

The deeply ingrained romantic track of the film influence Greenwood's work here. A constant soft touch to the music, that slows down the films energy to the right base allowing for that slow moving trippy feel to everything. It's what gives the whole score the matching vibe with the convoluted plot and keeps the audience however permanently focused on proceedings and heavy dialogue, thanks to its wonderfully matched subtlety.

Wavering off, Greenwood hits the right notes out of his element when he presents a clear cut wonderful dichotomy. Harsher rock sounds invade the smoothness, producing the once again hazy effect, giving Vice some much needed energy.

Mica Levi for Under The Skin

Eerie and hauntingly atmospheric, Mica Levi's score for this enchanting alien fare is what provides this cinematic beauty with an equally apt chilling vibe. It's what paints the picture of the hollow shells the film rides on, a sense of mystic and dread that pervades throughout.

The score constantly builds a sense of tension, that grasps the viewer by the neck never releasing for one second. It's breathlessly magnificent, matching the visuals toe to toe. Levi shows a restraint but pulls no punches, in diving through layers of the music in revealing in character and reveling in the features lead performance.

Each string and beat providing the audience with a sense of thrill, just keeps one's ears alert and eyes wide open.

James Newton Howard for Nightcrawler

It's as cliché as it can get for the genre, but Howard's latest work keeps the thrills coming and that's all that matters. As riveting as each piece of the film, the score is at it's most crafty in the true sphere of points where the thrills just keep coming.

In the car chase it's a mess and a mass of beats constantly thumping in your ears, keeping the action engaging and quick moving. During Lou Bloom's raid and desecration of an invaded house, it keeps a low humming mood; producing the dual effect of excitement yet disgust.

But it is in the silences that Howard lets a lot be spoken. The brazen attitude of Bloom and the psychological mining of his character brought forth within moments of sheer horror, fear and nail biting anticipation amplified by the sounds of nothingness. It adds the extra layer of fear that the narrative needs to pull into this dreaded character study.

And the Winner is...

Mica Levi for Under The Skin!

Fun Fact: Despite really being a tough decision at the tale end with the introduction of A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night, Under The Skin has been at the top of this nomination the whole year since I first saw it. 

Up Next: New Additions to the list rise up as we go to a bevy of Technical Awards!

'Nuff Said 

Aneesh Raikundalia


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