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SCORE! Top 20 Film Scores of 2012 (pt. 3)

So looks like 2013 is here to stay.  But before we give up completely on 2012, we continue our round-up of the year’s Top 20 Film Scores. Here’s part 3, where the stakes get high and the tunes get great – so before reading any further make sure you’re caught up on parts 1 (here) and 2 (here). And now, without further ado, we dip into the first half of our top 10…
 

10.) W.E.Abel Korzeniowski

W.E.

At number 10 we have the score for W.E., a film directed by the queen of pop herself, Madonna. IMDB says this movie was released in 2011 but if you look at the fine print you’ll see its limited release was Feb. 3, 2012. So it’s kosher. And oh, how kosher! Lush, overflowing with emotion, Romantic to the Nth degree, and with a capital R! Right from the get-go, we get strings heaped upon strings, a beautiful melody building into a lyrical crescendo that crashes like a wave onto a gentle shore and then continues in rivulets of pizzicato between robust boulders of arco … in other words, it’s real purdy. Grandiose without being overbearing, it’s an incredibly satisfying score by a master musician, full of a variety of melodies, shifts in tone, and even the occasional waltz. The only misstep is the inclusion of a final song by the auteur herself, “Masterpiece,” where lyrics like “If you were the Mona Lisa / you’d be hanging in the Louvre / everyone would come to see you / you’d be impossible to move” sit like an ironic crap left by a spoilt Pomeranian on the marbled floor of an art museum. See what I did there? That was super-kosher.

Here’s track 1, “Charms”:

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Here’s track 4, “I Will Follow You”:

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9.) We Are LegionJohn Dragonetti

We Are Legion_ The Story of the Hacktivists

Here’s the score to a very informative, highly recommended documentary by Brian Knappenberger that tells the story of the group known as Anonymous – and their evolution (some in the doc say de-volution) from a group of 4chan rabble-rousers to the powerful self-made protectors of human rights that they are today. There’s a wealth of musical diversity on hand, from quirky upbeat marches to introspective ambient passages to anthems reminiscent of something you’d hear by MGMT. Added to all the electronic synths, cycling piano, string orchestras and sequenced percussion are some other manufactured sounds as well – including what sounds like a Hawaiian lap steel guitar and swarming electronic insects (not as annoying as you’d think). All in all it’s a radical, shifting score that nicely mirrors its complicated subject matter, and no matter your opinion of the Guy Fawkes – masked Hacktivists, rest assured that there’s plenty for you to love here.

Here’s track 12, “In the Halls of /b/”:

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Here’s track 16, “Heal the Sick:”

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8.) The Odd Life of Timothy GreenGeoff Zanelli

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Here we have a whimsical, light-hearted score to Peter Hedgesfilm about a magical boy found by an infertile couple (played by Jennifer Garner and Joel Edgerton) who seems to have grown in their garden following a buried wish. Doesn’t sound like the typical stuff I go in for, but there’s something special about Zanelli’s music that separates it from this usual type of fluff. There’s a folksy, grass-roots feel to it, with crisp melodies and a memorable theme which Zanelli returns to in a variety of phrasings, featuring beautiful guitar work, piano, accordion and light percussion. It’s not a bombastic affair, but it does resonate emotionally. I haven’t seen the movie but if it’s as magical as its score, I’m definitely looking forward to it – even if the plot does sound like a Disney take on Swamp Thing!

Here’s the opening track, “You’re Gonna Find it Hard to Believe”:

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Here’s track 4, “Our Kid”:

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7.) ParanormanJon Brion

ParaNorman

Our first animated film score, Jon Brion‘s work for this fun film about a boy who can speak to the dead (directed by Chris Butler & Sam Fell) got my attention right from the gate, in the way it references the great Italian schlock masters of the 70′s – sounding like Goblin‘s Buio Omega, Fabio Frizzi‘s work on Zombi 2 or any of those soundtracks those of us addicted to Midnight movies would instantly recognize. That fat synthy Argento bassline had me hella excited – and in a Children’s movie no less! And while Brion abandons the homage and fills the rest of the disc with the type of understated melodies that befit his work on Punch-Drunk Love and I ♥ Huckabees, it’s the man’s overall attention to detail and the way he balances between the sunshine-y, lilting tunes and the dark foreboding passages that make this such a memorable score.

Here’s track 1, “Zombie Attacks in the Eighties”:

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Here’s track 3, “Norman’s Walk”:

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6.) The Man with the Iron FistRZA and Howard Drossin

The Man With The Iron Fists

The compilation soundtrack that came out in conjunction with  RZA‘s directorial debut might have been better publicized – featuring the Wu-Tang collaborating with Kool G Rap, Kanye West, Pusha T, Corinne Bailey Rae, and The Black Keys – but this instrumental score featuring the actual music from the film is even better. Opening with a rocking version of “Shame on a Ni**a” that’s been busted up and put back together (used over the film’s title sequence) and continuing with 29 more tracks featuring some sick blends of Soul, Rock and Asian elements, this is a fantastic outing for RZA and co-conspirator Drossin – and is very likely the best thing about the relentlessly over-the-top movie! And just in case you wanted to get both albums – plus a compilation of old soul and funk originals sampled by the clan, there’s this ultra special limited edition 5 CD set. Go crazy, son!

Here’s track 2, “Jungle Village”:

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Here’s track 11, “Zen Yi Rides In”:

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Here’s track 18, “Jack Up the Street”:

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We conclude our look at the sounds of 2012 – and close the book on 2012 once and for all – next week. In the meantime you can check out last years’ countdown as well as the ridiculously ambitious and highly subjective countdown that started it all – our Top 150 scores of all time! And look at our companion list: 100 favorite albums of 2012, here!
 

And please leave us a comment telling us your favorite score of the year!

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