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Thompson on Hollywood

Talking the 'Her' Score with Arcade Fire Oscar Nominee William Butler

Oscar-nominated William Butler's first-time experience composing the wistful score for Spike Jonze's "Her" with his Arcade Fire partner Owen Pallett was a bit of a romance as well as a crash course in moviemaking. And yet the experience opened him up more intuitively to the collaborative process.
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • February 18, 2014 2:58 PM
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From Music Editor to Oscar Winning Composer: The Surprising Story Behind the Music of 'Gravity'

When Steven Price came on to "Gravity," it was for a short two-week music editing gig; when he left, he'd spent a year on the project as the film's composer. At first, Price was brought on to help with an internal studio screening for Alfonso Cuarón's technologically-stunning space epic and the two got to talking about how music could work in the film. Two weeks became six weeks, and then Cuarón asked Price to write the score.
  • By Jacob Combs
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  • January 19, 2014 11:44 AM
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'Gravity' Set to Dominate Oscar Craft Nominations: Talking the Film's Sound, Music and Editing

As we approach Wednesday's Oscar voting deadline, at least one thing's for certain: "Gravity" is a lock for a majority of the craft nominations. We've already covered production design, cinematography, and VFX in depth, so now let's look at the corresponding design for sound and music, which were made for the immersive Dolby Atmos surround experience, along with the editing of what was essentially an animated movie.
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • January 3, 2014 2:07 PM
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'All Is Lost' Is Far from Silent, Even with No Dialogue (VIDEO)

In space or on the ocean, no one can hear you scream. Comparisons abound between solo adventures "Gravity" and "All Is Lost," but unlike space, the ocean is far from silent. Even though J.C. Chandor's remarkable open-water survival thriller starring a 77-year-old Robert Redford boldly stepping out of his comfort zone is virtually dialogue-free. Thus the director was totally on board with making the sound design a driving narrative force.
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • November 22, 2013 1:37 PM
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Review: A Decade After Qatsi Trilogy, Avant-Garde Cine-Poem 'Visitors' Marks Godfrey Reggio's Triumphant Return (NEW TRAILER)

UPDATE: Godfrey Reggio's "Visitors" will be released via Cinedigm beginning January 24, 2014. It is presented by Steven Soderbergh, with a score by Philip Glass. Read our TOH! review out of the New Orleans Film Festival, plus check out the film's new trailer, below.
  • By Matt Brennan
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  • November 5, 2013 2:05 PM
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First-Time Feature Composer Ryan Amon Scores Neill Blomkamp's Sci-Fi Thriller 'Elysium'

The email was unexpected and short--a single sentence: "Is this you?"--with a YouTube link and a signature from a name Ryan Amon didn't recognize: Neill Blomkamp. "It's a little bit embarrassing," Amon says of his first reaction to the message: "I had to Google his name!" When he did so, of course, he found the up-and-coming South African-born director who had catapulted to international acclaim with his 2009 film "District 9."
  • By Jacob Combs
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  • August 5, 2013 6:29 AM
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'World War Z' Composer Marco Beltrami Had to Pull Back "Aggressive" Score, Featuring Skulls, Emergency Sirens

The term 'family movie' might not be the first thing that comes to mind to describe "World War Z," the upcoming Brad Pitt-driven zombiepocalypse flick that pits a group of government workers against a pandemic of the undead. But that's exactly how composer Marco Beltrami--who has worked on the score for "World War Z for more than two year--thinks of the film. (Early review round-up is here.)
  • By Jacob Combs
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  • June 4, 2013 4:28 PM
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Immersed in Movies: Assessing the Music Oscar Race

Like cinematography, production design, editing, and sound, the Oscar-nominated music scores are all organically tied to their movies in very personal ways. So it's hard to pick a winner among such stalwarts as Alexandre Desplat ("Argo"), Thomas Newman ("Skyfall"), Mychael Danna ("Life of Pi"), and Dario Marianelli ("Anna Karenina") along with the venerable old warhorse, John Williams ("Lincoln"). Still, I keep hearing a lot about Danna being the favorite in a very close race.
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • February 15, 2013 3:41 PM
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Immersed in Movies: Assessing the Sound Oscar Races

While "Argo" might be the Oscar frontrunner for sound editing and mixing, jarring and humoring us with a bizarre Iranian hostage rescue mission, all of this year's nominees create fascinating soundscapes: "Django Unchained" offers a spirited yet analogue-like experience associated with the spaghetti western...
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • February 13, 2013 3:47 PM
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Oscar Watch: 'Skyfall' Builds Academy Support, Composer Thomas Newman Overdue for Oscar

"Skyfall" could land a surprising number of Oscar nominations when they are announced on January 10. James Bond films, while they have been popular over the decades with Academy voters as popcorn entertainment, have not been Oscar contenders except for the occasional technical or song nomination. (The Oscarcast is tributing Bond on its 50th anniversary, in any case.) But Bond 23 is directed by Oscar-winner Sam Mendes ("American Beauty") and brings a certain class and patina missing from many other Bond films.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • January 4, 2013 4:03 PM
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