There are two reasons why there was no content on Soundtrack World these last weeks. The first is that I am focusing on finalizing my top 5 lists for the IFMCA Awards, and the second reason is that I was on vacation for a week. The Oscar nominations were announced while I was away, providing an excellent opportunity to combine both activities to discuss the Oscar nominations for Best Music. I do not have to cover all the nominations in this article since I have already written reviews for Oppenheimer and Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny. My thoughts on the other three nominations in Spotlight format can be read below.
Killers of the Flower Moon – Robbie Robertson
One of the nominations is the music from Killers of the Flower Moon, composed by Robbie Robertson. Robertson had written some film music in his career, but unfortunately, Killers of the Flower Moon will be his last since he passed away from cancer last August. He used a small group of musicians for the film music, with a primary focus on guitars to represent the ‘20s vibe of the movie. Each track is a stand-alone piece with a solid start and end, making them very suitable to listen to without the film. While each track is well implemented with interesting and new melodies, I miss a bit of cohesion between the tracks.
American Fiction – Laura Karpman
The music for American Fiction, written by Laura Karpman, surprised me. Karpman, who I started to know as a composer for several Marvel shows in recent years, wrote an acceptable jazzy score for the movie, which is quite different from what I expected from her. Like most jazz scores, the music is entertaining to listen to on its own. I have not seen the movie yet, but I am interested in how the music works for the scenes. The story of the film, about an African-American writer who wrote a book as a satire but is seen as great literature instead, does not really call for a jazz score.
Poor Things – Jerskin Fendrix
When I think about the score for Poor Things by Jerskin Fendrix, the first thing that comes to mind is that it is “One of those” scores. What I mean with that statement is that if you are listening to it in the context of the film, the music will stand out, with a strong focus on sound design. If you, on the other hand, hear it separately, it is not a comfortable listening experience. You can find a lot of quirkiness in the score, like detuned strings or pairs of notes that do not belong together. It is probably a fantastic showcase for fellow composers or other musicians to dissect the notes to see what Fendrix has done, but it is not a soundtrack you would put on in the background to just enjoy.
Traditionally, the nominations for the Oscars are always on the safe side. Only if a movie is well-regarded do you have a chance to be nominated. I have heard a large amount of film music that has come out this year, and none of the three Spotlights in this article stood out to me. It does not mean that they aren’t great scores. Oppenheimer and Indiana Jones are already good nominations, but American Fiction and Killers of the Flower Moon are also well-executed scores. Music like Poor Things is just not for me. If you are curious about what kind of scores I think are worthy of an award, I will announce my eSWay Awards in the coming weeks.