Personal Favourite Film Soundtracks

It recently occurred to me how the films that I have been watching lately have had brilliant soundtracks and ones which I have been listening to over and over again. So here is a list of my personal favourite film soundtracks.

I re-watched the Tarantino Classic Reservoir Dogs not so long ago and it once again reminded of how brilliant the all 70’s soundtrack is which sees “Stuck In The Middle of You” be played in time to Mr Blonde cutting someone’s ear off. Sticking with Tarantino it is only fair to mention Pulp Fiction which sees some unconventional songs such as “Jungle Boogey” turn into a classic moment.

500 Days of Summer also holds one of the best soundtracks which is one of the main highlights to the unusual non-stereotypical rom-com, with song “Sweet Disposition” constantly being in your head after. Similar film Juno also brings to the table a very up-beat warm soundtrack that again is a highlight and credit to it’s film.

Most recently in cinema’s both Inside Llewyn Davis and Her have produced amazing soundtracks which I have not stopped listening to as well as a high standard to 2014 films. Inside Llewyn Davis really shows off folk music and Oscar Isaac’s talents whilst Her’s mixture of synthetic scores and songs such as “The Moon Song” is just beautiful and rather complimentary to Spike Jonze’s creation.

Two of my all time favourite films also hold two of my all time favourite soundtracks. Drive is brilliant with such a upbeat award winning score with songs “Night call” and “Real Hero” being amongst the highlights.  Donnie Darko my all time top film holds a great score which compliments and foreshadows every event with the famous and iconic “Mad World” being the highlight.

Do you agree? What are your personal favourite soundtracks?

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Her (2014)

Genre: Comedy, Sci-fi, Romance

Director: Spike Jonze

Writer: Spike Jonze

Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams, Scarlett Johansson

Rating:★★★★★

Her is certainly one of the most connecting films I have watched in recent years making me experience a bundle of emotions from sadness to inspiration. The story along with the script, characters and acting is a real credit to the amazing writing and visual direction by director and writer Spike Jonze who has really created something special. It’s hard to find faults in one of this year’s big Oscar films and it certainly deserves its reputation and plaudits and in some respects deserves more as Joaquin Phoenix gives a simply great performance as the lead character along with the rest of cast.

Set in a futuristic time, technology is thriving and as a civilisation we are thriving with it. We follow Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix) a New Yorker and letter writer who amazes us along with everyone else with his compassion, charm and romance however to our surprise we find that he is actually a lonely man in the final stages of a harsh divorce. Spending his nights choosing between the dilemma of internet porn and video games Theodore is hooked when he sees an advertisement for a new operating system OS1 labelled “It’s not just an operating system, it’s a consciousness”. Upon installing his newly purchased OS1 he is matched up with Samantha (Scarlett Johansson), the voice behind his system, a programmed conscious who can evolve just like Theodore himself. Being his only and new founded company Samantha becomes more than an operating system for Theodore and the two together fall in love.

It is amazing to watch how an operating system voice with only audible presence can have a huge impact and connection to not only Theodore but us as an audience. However after falling in love and forming a relationship the obvious problems form as Samantha is only a voice but there is more than it first seems which causes harm for our main characters. Despite Samantha’s pure and high intelligence helping Theodore in his work and everyday life, he still finds conflict within himself, finding himself mostly withdrawn at times and alongside the ongoing divorce he gets pulled down. As for Samantha finding and discovering new things and feelings isn’t always good and the popularity of OS1 and relationships seem to grow and grow along with the operating system’s intelligence proving to be a disastrous thing.

Spike Jonze has written possibly one my favourite scripts of all time and one of the most diverse screenplays. The whole concept in itself is unique and this unconventional romance is somewhat refreshing and certainly pleasant. At times I was in tears due to the witty and hilarious comedy, by far one of the most entertaining scenes this year to watch is Theodore’s encounter with a lost alien whilst playing a video game. On the other hand at times there was some real emotional pain and heart-felt sadness when you could see the despair in Theodore and even the sorrow in Samantha’s voice as the story closes. It was too inspirational, showing sometimes the message of just doing what makes you happy or as Theodore’s friend Amy says “you know what, just fuck it”. It was a story that slowly grew on me than eventually took over and became amazing, the only flaws are the slightly perverted moments but those can easily be overlooked. It was also inspirational as one day I hope to be able to write a screenplay or script with such emotional impact and connection with the audience as Her achieves.

The cast give fantastic performances and for me a big surprise was how the role of Joaquin Phoenix’s Theodore was overlooked by the Oscar committee as it was truly great. Instantly we felt for our protagonist, we felt his harsh and deepest emotions and when happiness approach him it approached us, and that was due to a combination of excellent writing but even better acting. Scarlet Johansson although only a voice was brilliant, I think it needs to be pointed out that it must be harder to communicate emotion with only tone available yet it was completely believable. Amy Adams too as Theodore’s friend Amy was very believable, apparently Jonze made the actors spend forced time together in a locked room to make them all form a connection. It was an idea that really worked as the dialogue and delivery was so real it felt like it wasn’t even acting.

Jonze’s direction too was great along with the cinematography, a flurry of scenery shots of New York’s skyline and coast beaches hogged the screen and it was awe-inspiring. The shots were mainly long and simple but so beautifully crafted as it created a warm glow and feeling. At times it was the simplicity which made the emotion stand out the most.  Along with Best Motion Picture, Original Screenplay and Production Design, Her achieved two nominations for its achievement in score and music something I found joy in. Not only are the scenes where a happy Theodore and Samantha sing together made up created songs pleasant to watch, but it is pleasant to listen to with such a beautifully lyrical song made. The “Moon Song” is something to listen out for within the film.

Her is hard to fault, maybe the perverted scenes were unnecessary but at times it did show us Theodore’s character and his struggle, however it is something that can’t and really shouldn’t bring down this film at all.  Jonze’s creation is a real treat to experience, leaving you somewhat sad not only due to the story but that the film ended and with it the experience and our time with Theodore and Samantha who we bond with an amazing amount. It is a film worth-while to watch and one worth the huge reputation and praise; it is Her’s ability to be outstanding in so many aspects that makes this film complete and something real special. Easily watchable, entertaining, inspiring and emotional it is a film which is firmly making its way as a modern great alongside a personal favourite.

Inside Llewyn Davis (2014)

Genre: Drama, Music

Directors: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen

Writers: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen

Starring: Oscar Isaac, Carey Mulligan, Justin Timberlake, John Goodman

Rating: ★★★★★

Inside Llewyn Davis is a film that I’ve been anticipating very much ever since I saw early advertisements and trailers and it lived right up to my expectation. Beautifully-crafted and with an inspiring story, the Coen brothers have created a reflective film that many will be able to relate to. Stunningly directed along with amazing performances from the entire all-star cast, Inside Llewyn Davis is in some ways a master-piece topped with a great soundtrack tipped to win Oscars.

Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac) is a young folk-singer trying to establish a career as a soloist; we follow his life for a week as he attempts to navigate the Greenwich Village folk scene of 1961 in the harsh cold winter. Llewyn is struggling, losing hope and is being eaten away at by all the negatives in his life that for him, seem to be growing. Homeless he sleeps and crashes on various couches, some are his friends some are just mutual strangers from the industry. In a week he finds himself in a lot of places, on a lot of couches and being stared at by a lot of strangers.

The only thing Llewyn seems to have is his music and with that he grasps so tightly that it seems he pushes away all other people and relationships.  As an audience we establish such deep sympathy for him, despite obviously having a tortured soul he is a man with good intentions however he always seems to bring bad-luck and sadness wherever he goes. An angry Carey Mulligan, playing June, a fellow musician, shouts, lectures and spits telling Llewyn that the only good thing he could ever do on this planet is to not reproduce, and that sums up how the character of Llewyn comes across.

Llewyn Davis represents a lot of people, “drifters” who try and make their mark on the world, at one point he crashes on the couch of Al Cody (Adam Driver) another folk singer and just like Llewyn he has the same box full of unsold albums hidden away. Inside Llewyn Davis isn’t just showing the hard-times folk singers had in 60’s America, or people of that era in general, but it delivers a strong message to everyone who has a passion in a competitive area and is struggling to make their mark having to choose between their passion and “existing”.

The film displays an all-star cast; John Goodman plays an engrossing drug addict who only dampens the motivation and spirits of Llewyn even more on a shared journey to Chicago. Justin Timberlake plays Jim, a folk singer and the partner of June, although Llewyn is involved in an awkward love triangle with pair, they are his only “real” friends. However there is no surprise in saying Oscar Isaac is the star performer, although maybe limited due to the Coen brother’s style; he captures a great display that really connects with the audience nevertheless.

The films biggest achievement however is how it’s been beautifully crafted; both the Coen brothers and cinematographer Bruno Delbonnel deserve huge plaudits. Every scene is flawless, from the very opening to the very end, each shot with talent and it looks like they spent time on every frame attempting to reach perfection. Inside Llewyn Davis has got the nomination for Best Cinematography and that is not at all surprising, however what was is the snub for The Best Picture.  The opening scene really sets the mark throughout, Llewyn is on stage singing and playing, being highlighted by an overhanging spotlight it only focuses on him and the music, perfectly executed it leaves you speechless. Many scenes are also remarkable with small elements standing out; the “car journey scene” as well as the “train journey scene” to pick my favourites, but the film in a whole is just inspiring in a number of ways.

The sound-track deserves the final mention, which plays an important role within this film. Without the score that is lyrically and acoustically remarkable, we wouldn’t have such a connection to Llweyn, it is due to the score that we encourage him and sympathise for him. Although heart-less and cold his music is the opposite, that alongside his relationship with a reoccurring cat, shows that Llewyn is “human” and can feel.

The Coen brother’s newest creation is one that I shall be re-watching time and time again due to its powerful, impacting and inspiring nature. Inside Llewyn Davis is in some ways a story about not giving up and holding onto your dreams and passions, that story has been executed to perfection and topped by amazing performances making it a master-piece that can’t be missed.

 

 

My Take on The Oscar Nominations

Oscar Nominations were released today after much wait, anticipation and speculation on which big releases could and should be accredited one of the most prestigious awards in the film industry. Here is the list of nominations with my own thoughts regarding who I think should and will take the award, applause and glory.

BEST PICTURE

12 Years a Slave, American Hustle, Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyers Club, Gravity, Her, Nebraska, Philomena, The Wolf of Wall Street.

12 Years a Slave should and probably will be accredited and named The Best Picture at the 86th Oscar Ceremony after stunning its audience and collecting much praise and plaudits.

BEST DIRECTOR

David O. Russell – American Hustle, Alfonso Cuaron – Gravity, Alexander Payne – Nebraska, Steve McQueen – 12 Years a Slave, Martin Scorsese – The Wolf of Wall Street

This should be a close contest between Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity and Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave in my perspective as they were the two visual highlights out of the bunch. Cuaron behind one of the best visual experiences in cinematic history whilst McQueen refreshing and brilliant techniques captured so much in 12 Years a Slave.

BEST ACTOR

Christian Bale – American Hustle, Bruce Dern – Nebraska, Leonardo DiCaprio -The Wolf of Wall Street, Chiwetel Ejiofor – 12 Years a Slave, Matthew McConaughey – Dallas Buyers Club.

12 Years a Slave’s Ejiofor should deserve to win Best Actor however with the heaps of praise and success from McConaughey in Dallas Buyers Club It could be stolen away.

BEST ACTRESS

Amy Adams – American Hustle, Cate Blanchett – Blue Jasmine, Sandra Bullock – Gravity, Judi Dench – Philomena, Meryl Streep – August: Osage County

Amy Adams is the majority’s choice to take claim to the Best Actress award but giving the performance of her career in Gravity it would be much deserved if Sandra Bullock took the glory.

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

American Hustle – Written by Eric Warren Singer and David O. Russell, Blue Jasmine – Written by Woody Allen, Her – Written by Spike Jonze , Nebraska – Written by Bob Nelson, Dallas Buyers Club – Written by Craig Borten & Melisa Wallack

Spike Jonze’s Her, I hope will get named the Best Original Screenplay ahead of American Hustle after failing to amaze me and reach expectation.

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

Before Midnight – Written by Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke, Captain Phillips – Screenplay by Billy Ray, Philomena – Screenplay by Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope, 12 Years a Slave – Screenplay by John Ridley, The Wolf of Wall Street – Screenplay by Terence Winter

12 Years a Slave absolutely amazed me, especially with its accurate adaptation, brutal realism and factual accuracy so this would be a strong shout for this award, however Captain Phillips was truly special so I wouldn’t be surprise if it stole the show here.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Lupita Nyong’o – 12 Years a Slave, Jennifer Lawrence – American Hustle, June Squibb – Nebraska, Julia Roberts – August: Osage County, Sally Hawkins – Blue Jasmine

Jennifer Lawrence although only playing a minor role stood out amongst others in American Hustle and should easily be credited as Best Supporting Actress.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Barkhad Abdi – Captain Phillips, Bradley Cooper – American Hustle, Michael Fassbender – 12 Years a Slave, Jonah Hill – The Wolf of Wall Street, Jared Leto – Dallas Buyers Club

Jared Leto apparently gave a wonderful performance in Dallas Buyers Club but I can’t see anyone accept Michael Fassbneder winning and deserving this award after his performance in 12 Years a Slave.

BEST ANIMATED FILM

The Croods, Despicable Me 2, Ernest & Celestine, Frozen, The Wind Rises

Frozen will most likely scoop The Best Animated Film award up after becoming a huge favourite, however I could see close competition from the great, Despicable Me 2.

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

The Grandmaster, Gravity, Inside Llewyn Davis, Nebraska, Prisoners

I could see best cinematography being between Inside Llewyn Davis and Gravity but I couldn’t say which way.

BEST COSTUME DESIGN

Michael Wilkinson – American Hustle, William Chang Suk Ping – The Grandmaster, Catherine Martin – The Great Gatsby, Michael O’Connor – The Invisible Woman, Patricia Norris – 12 Years a Slave

American Hustle really did show off its excellence in this department and it should surely be credited by picking up the Oscar for Best Costume Design.

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

The Act of Killing – Joshua Oppenheimer and Signe Byrge Sørensen, Cutie and the Boxer – Zachary Heinzerling and Lydia Dean Pilcher, Dirty Wars – Richard Rowley and Jeremy Scahill, The Square – Jehane Noujaim and Karim Amer, 20 Feet from Stardom – Nominees to be determined

The Act Killing is my favourite for this category.

BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT

CaveDigger – Jeffrey Karoff, Facing Fear – Jason Cohen, Karama Has No Walls -Sara Ishaq , The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life – Malcolm Clarke and Nicholas Reed, Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall – Edgar Barens

BEST FILM EDITING

American Hustle – Jay Cassidy, Crispin Struthers and Alan Baumgarten,  Captain Phillips – Christopher Rouse, Dallas Buyers Club-  John Mac McMurphy and Martin Pensa, Gravity – Alfonso Cuarón and Mark Sanger,  12 Years a Slave –  Joe Walker

Gravity should have this one firmly in their grasp!

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

The Broken Circle Breakdown – Belgium, The Great Beauty -Italy, The Hunt – Denmark, The Missing Picture – Cambodia,  Omar Palestine

It was a big surprise to not see Blue is the Warmest Colour given a nomination for this category.

BEST MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING

Dallas Buyers Club – Adruitha Lee and Robin Mathews, Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa –  Stephen Prouty, The Lone Ranger –  Joel Harlow and Gloria Pasqua-Casny

Dallas Buyers Club would be my favourite for this award however again its a surprise to see American Hustle not getting nominated.

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE

John Williams – The Book Thief, Steven Price –  Gravity,  William Butler and Owen Pallett –  Her,  Alexandre Desplat –  Philomena Thomas Newman – Saving Mr. Banks

Saving Mr Banks would be my favourite and a winner that would be much deserved.

BEST SOUND EDITING

All Is Lost – Steve Boeddeker and Richard Hymns,  Captain Phillips – Oliver Tarney, Gravity –  Glenn Freemantle , The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug –  Brent Burge, Lone Survivor – Wylie Stateman

Captain Phillips has amazing score but I was very impressed by Lone Survivor it would be more than deserved if they were awarded Best Sound Editing.

BEST SOUND MIXING

Captain Phillips –  Chris Burdon, Mark Taylor, Mike Prestwood Smith and Chris Munro,  Gravity – Skip Lievsay, Niv Adiri, Christopher Benstead and Chris Munro, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug –  Christopher Boyes, Michael Hedges, Michael Semanick and Tony Johnson, Inside Llewyn Davis –  Skip Lievsay, Greg Orloff and Peter F. Kurland,  Lone Survivor – Andy Koyama, Beau Borders and David Brownlow

Again this for me would be between Captain Phillips and Lone Survivor.

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

Gravity – Tim Webber, Chris Lawrence, Dave Shirk and Neil Corbould,  The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug – Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton and Eric Reynolds,  Iron Man 3 –  Christopher Townsend, Guy Williams, Erik Nash and Dan Sudick,  The Lone Ranger – Tim Alexander, Gary Brozenich, Edson Williams and John Frazier, Star Trek Into Darkness – Roger Guyett, Patrick Tubach, Ben Grossmann and Burt Dalton

I would like to see The Hobbit be accredited this award after the amazing appearance of Smaug however it would be no surprise to see Gravity make way with another victory.

I did miss out a few categories however these are the Oscar Nominations, there were a few shocks and surprises but I’m sure there will be plenty more upon ceremony night! I would appreciate it if you could comment below your thoughts and your favourites for the Oscars 2014.