Thursday, February 21, 2013

Reviewing 2012 Oscar Noms for Best Score & Downton Abbey Theme

There's a program on WQXR (online at called "Movies on the Radio" that I happened upon over the holidays, when that station takes over in the house along with the good china, silver and family guests.  A recent episode featured the five Oscar nominated movie scores: Dario Marianelli for "Anna Karenina," Alexandre Desplat for "Argo," Mychael Danna for "Life of Pi," John Williams for "Lincoln" and Thomas Newman for "Skyfall."  Host David Garland was joined by Slate's film critic Dana Stevens, who spoke annoyingly fast and had to throw out how she's not a "prognosticator" twice.  Although it does seem like "Lincoln" will win many awards this Sunday, John Williams's score included. (A fun fact from the program is how Williams has been nominated for a mind-boggling 48 times but has won "only" five times!) To listen to the samples of each score without a visual proved to be a treat, allowing a focus on the music for the music's sake.  **UPDATE: CONGRATS TO OSCAR WINNER MYCHAEL DANNA FOR "LIFE OF PI" SCORE!

The program also highlights the score for the PBS sensation,"Downton Abbey," by John Lunn. After sticking with this show from the very beginning, the death of two main characters this season (just because the actors didn't want to renew their contracts) has fans like me hoping for the demise of their acting careers as well.  While the story crosses decades from the beginning of this century, the music on the show seems timeless.  Garland calls it "romantic post minimalism" with a nod towards Philip Glass. Lunn has said in an interview with London's Daily Record that his musical inspiration is really funk music from the late 60s, for example James Brown and Sly and the Family Stone, along with Bartok, Stravinsky and Bach.  Take a listen to "Movies on the Radio" on their webpage here or below.