Skip to content

Synchrotones’ Soundtrack Awards 2022

January 22, 2023

Here we go. Synchrotones’ annual awards extravaganza. The afterparty will take place in my study, but be quick as there’s only room for three people. So, which are my favourite scores of the year? Will Beavis and Butthead return to space? Will the man who fell to earth face a violent night with a black panther? Will the moon rise above this strange world? Or will a certain blockbuster blow them all out of the water?

Please note my yearly disclaimer: these are my favourite scores. Whilst that roughly aligns to what I think is best, there is a important difference. I’ve long given up on being a judge, of sorts, deciding on what’s good and what’s not. Different scores for different films function in different ways; and whilst it takes something very special for me to love a score, it also takes something rather special for me to really hate a score. Most scores do what they need to do, sometimes a little more. So, I dunno, I think ultimately a lot comes down to personal taste. Am I taking an easy way out? Let me know. For now, let’s crack on…

THE 2022 TOP 10 (Film & TV Scores)

AVATAR
Simon Franglen

  1. AVATAR: THE WAY OF WATER (Simon Franglen)
    • This is everything I wanted it to be, and more, and then some. The result of years of hard work! From my review: On the whole I like The Way of Water more than Avatar. It sounds more polished and coherent to me; the combination of orchestra, choir, non-orchestral instruments and electronics sound even better than last time. It sounds more natural, more evenly integrated. When it comes to the overall sound and atmosphere, Franglen easily matches and even surpasses Horner’s work. Orchestrations and mixing are stellar! The sound-world that Franglen has created for TWoW is simply and utterly gorgeous. It has all brand new themes, except for “I See You”, but that’s only logical. It has new action material, it has new and improved synth sounds. I could see this appealing to a wider audience than just filmmusic fans. I can imagine world-music and new age/ambient fans to enjoy most of this. When it comes to the Na’vi sound, the exoticism, the ethereal, the otherworldliness, the drama, the emotion and overall production… Franglen has absolutely f—ing nailed it!

  1. THE BOY, THE MOLE, THE FOX AND THE HORSE (Isobel Waller-Bridge)
    • Utterly lovely, charming, whimsical little score that melts the heart.
  2. NOTRE-DAME BRÛLE/NOTRE DAME ON FIRE (Simon Franglen)
    • Wonderful, lush score with a gorgeous main theme.
  3. THE CLAUS FAMILY 3 (Anne-Kathrin Dern)
    • Excellent third score with great themes and more action adventure material than before.
  4. STRANGE WORLD (Henry Jackman)
    • Gloriously old-fashioned, rousing, big orchestral score. Jackman in top form!
  5. SLUMBERLAND (Pinar Toprak)
    • Lyrical, rousing, colourful and sometimes magical score full of adventure.
  6. THE FABELMANS (John Williams)
    • Intimate score. Understated, low key, but beautiful, emotional.
  7. MOON KNIGHT (Hesham Nazih)
    • Exciting colourful action-adventure score with Middle-Eastern influences. 
  8. RETURN TO SPACE (Mychael Danna & Harry Gregson-Williams)
    • Excellent hybrid of HGW’s space music snd Danna’s sensitive side.
  9. PEARL (Tyler Bates And Tim Williams)
    • Good score with an absolute belter of a main theme.

COMPOSER OF THE YEAR

  • SIMON FRANGLEN – Not only are both Notre Dame and Avatar: The Way of Water spectacular scores, the amount of work that has gone into Avatar especially is astonishing. That score has been in the making for years; and it combines orchestra, choir, specialist vocals, specialist ‘ethnic’ instruments and electronics. Franglen followed in the footsteps of James Horner, re-using the “I See You” theme were necessary, paying homage to Horner via plenty of little nods, yet forging ahead establishing new themes and soundscapes. It’s a truly epic endeavour that’s led to a truly epic score.
  • Some honourable mentions: Daniel Pemberton once again had a stellar year with a handful of scores; Bear McCreary delivered several huge and hugely impressive scores.
  • Worth noting is that we’ve been treated to some wonderful scores from female composers such as Isobel Waller-Bridge, Anne-Kathrin Dern, Pinar Toprak, Amelia Warner, Stephanie Economou, Amie Doherty, Hildur Godnadottir and others.

MORE SCORES – NOTABLE RUNNERS UP

  • AMSTERDAM (Daniel Pemberton)
    • Fun, quirky, woodwind heavy and surprisingly lovely at times. Makes me smile.
  • BEAVIS AND BUTT-HEAD DO THE UNIVERSE (John Frizzell)
    • Fun, massive orchestral score with sci-fi influences.
  • BLACK PANTHER: WAKANDA FOREVER (Ludwig Göransson)
    • Decent sequel score, but for me lacks the magic of the first score.
  • DEVOTION (Chanda Dancy)
    • One of the year’s big surprises. Thrilling action cues and a wonderful adagio-like theme.
  • DON’T WORRY DARLING (John Powell)
    • Much darker, most sinister and more experimental than we’ve heard from Powell before.
  • EMILY (Abel Korzeniowski)
    • Beautiful, classically-tinged score for piano and strings.
  • GRENFELL (Miguel D’Oliveira)
    • Intimate, heartfelt cello-driven score for a doc about one of London’s most harrowing events.
  • HELLRAISER (Ben Lovett)
    • Great horror set pieces and good use of Young’s original themes.
  • LE DERNIER PIANO/BROKEN KEYS (Gabriel Yared)
    • Beautiful intimate score.
  • MORBIUS (Jon Ekstrand)
    • Dark and aggressive. Not my usual thing, but I surpringly enjoyed how Ekstrand handled it.
  • MY POLICEMAN (Steven Price)
    • This shows a lighter and more intimite side to Price than we’ve heard before. Very pleasant.
  • PREY (Sarah Schachner)
    • Gritty, modern score for Predator prequel.
  • THE GILDED AGE (Harry & Rupert Gregson-Williams)
    • Playful string writing, lovely themes, but a bit much of the same.
  • THE LAND OF DREAMS (Fabrizio Mancinelli)
    • I don’t care for the songs, but the score is good and occasionally great.
  • THE LAST WARRIOR: EMISSARY OF DARKNESS (George Kallis)
    • Rousing adventure score for full orchestra and some electronics. Energetic and enthusiastic, though lacking truly memorable themes.
  • THE LOST CITY (Pinar Toprak)
    • Fun, playful adventure score.
  • THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH (Jeff Russo)
    • Overlong, though contains some wonderful moments. The sketches album is the better choice.
  • THE PALE BLUE EYE (Howard Shore)
    • Shore doing his dark thing. Quite intriguing.
  • THE UNBEARABLE WEIGHT OF MASSIVE TALENT (Mark Isham)
    • Lots of fun, modern thriller meets classic spy music. Isham’s most fun score in years.
  • VIOLENT NIGHT (Dominic Lewis)
    • So much fun, so much action and loving the use of classic carols.

GAME SCORES

I have to admit: I haven’t heard many game scores this year. Not enough to make an informed list. Some of the score I did listen to and that I enjoyed include: Cat Burglar (Christopher Willis), God of War: Ragnarok (Bear McCreary), Hoa (Johannes Johansson), Jurassic World: Primal Ops (Winifred Phillips), Walking Dead: The Last Mile (Jeff Rona). Out of those, I think Hoa is my favourite. Of course, I know, I’ve missed a load. Let me know which ones I should listen to.

BOOKS

Chris Siddall Music Publishing and Omni Music Publishing released some awesome reading material between the two of them. James Horner fans got Legends of the Fall and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, whilst Jerry Goldsmith fans could feast their eyes on Alien. There was also Basil Poledouris’ Conan the Barbarian, Alex North’s A Streetcar Named Desire and Wojciech Kilar’s Dracula.

ARCHIVAL, EXPANDED AND RE-RELEASES

There were lots of great re-releases and expanded or archival releases. Fans of Ennio Morricone, Georges Delerue, James Horner, Jerry Goldsmith, John Williams and Marco Beltrami had numerous titles to choose from this year. For me, highlights include: Alan Silvestri’s Death Becomes Her, James Horner’s expanded Willow and How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Jerry Goldsmith’s Hollow Man, Star Trek: The Motion Picture and The ‘Burbs, John Powell’s How to Train Your Dragon 2, John Williams’ Amistad and Jurassic Park, Marco Beltrami’s Mimic, Mark Isham’s Fire in the Sky and WSA’s Mark Isham: Music for Film, Michael Kamen’s Iron Giant.

EVEN MORE SCORES – ALSO NOT BAD

Here…have a few dozen more scores that didn’t make my top lists, but are still enjoyable for one reason or another.

  • 1883 (Brian Tyler & Breton Vivian)
  • 1899 (Ben Frost)
  • 5,000 BLANKETS (Panu Aaltio)
  • A MAN CALLED OTTO (Thomas Newman)
  • AFTER EVER HAPPY (George Kallis)
  • ALL AMERICAN (Blake Neely)
  • ALL AMERICAN: HOMECOMING (Blake Neely)
  • AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL (Joseph Trapanese)
  • AND JUST LIKE THAT… (Aaron Zigman)
  • BANSHEES OF INISHERIN (Carter Burwell)
  • BAYMAX! (Dominic Lewis)
  • BEAST (Steven Price)
  • BLACK ADAM (Lorne Balfe)
  • BLACKLIGHT (Mark Isham)
  • BLUEBACK (Nigel Westlake)
  • BROS (Marc Shaiman)
  • CALL THE MIDWIFE (Maurizio Malagnini)
  • CHIP ‘N’ DALE: RESCUE RANGERS (Brian Tyler)
  • CORSICANA (Stephen Endelman)
  • COSMIC DAWN (Alan Howarth)
  • CRIMES OF THE FUTURE (Howard Shore)
  • DC LEAGUE OF SUPER-PETS (Steve Jablonsky)
  • DE ZONEN VAN VAN AS DE CROSS (Joris Hermy)
  • DEATH ON THE NILE (Patrick Doyle)
  • DOC MARTIN (Colin Towns)
  • DOCTOR STRANGE IN THE MULTIVERSE OF MADNESS (Danny Elfman)
  • DOWNTON ABBEY: A NEW ERA (John Lunn)
  • EMANCIPATION (Marcelo Zarvos)
  • EMPIRE OF LIGHT (Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross)
  • ENOLA HOLMES 2 (Daniel Pemberton)
  • EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE (Son Lux)
  • FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE SECRETS OF DUMBLEDORE (James Newton Howard)
  • FATHER OF THE BRIDE (Terence Blanchard)
  • FATHER STU (Dickon Hinchliffe)
  • FOR ALL MANKIND (Jeff Russo)
  • FROZEN PLANET II (Hans Zimmer & Adam Lukas/James Everingham)
  • HIS DARK MATERIALS (Lorne Balfe)
  • HOCUS POCUS 2 (John Debney)
  • HOUSE OF THE DRAGON (Ramin Djawadi)
  • ICE AGE: SCRAT TALES (Batu Sener)
  • IMMENHOF: DAS GROßE VERSPRECHEN (Hannes De Maeyer)
  • INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE (Daniel Hart)
  • IVY + BEAN (Michael Yezerski)
  • JAULA/THE CHALK LINE (Snorri Hallgrímsson)
  • JULIA (Jeff Danna)
  • JURASSIC WORLD: DOMINION (Michael Giacchino)
  • KIMI (Cliff Martinez)
  • KLEO (Johnny Klimek)
  • LA BREA (James S. Levine)
  • LA PARADOJA DE ANTARES/THE ANTARES PARADOX (Arnau Bataller)
  • L’AMICA GENIALE/MY BRILLIANT FRIEND (Max Richter)
  • LANCASTER (Chris Roe)
  • LE TEMPS DES SECRETS (Philippe Rombi)
  • LEGEND OF THE FOREST (Alan Williams)
  • LEGEND OF VOX MACHINA (Neal Acree)
  • LORD OF THE RINGS: THE RINGS OF POWER (Mccreary, Bear And Howard Shore)
  • LOS RENGLONES TORCIDOS DE DIOS/GOD’S CROOKED LINES (Fernando Velázquez)
  • MAN VS. BEE (Lorne Balfe)
  • MEDIEVAL (Philip Klein)
  • MISSILE FROM THE EAST (Benji Merrison & Will Slater)
  • MORE THAN ROBOTS (Stephanie Economou)
  • MR. MALCOLM’S LIST (Amelia Warner)
  • MRS. HARRIS GOES TO PARIS (Rael Jones)
  • MURDER IN PROVENCE (Miguel D’Oliveira)
  • MY FATHER’S DRAGON (Mychael Danna & Jeff Danna)
  • NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM: KAHMUNRAH RISES AGAIN (John Paesano)
  • NIGHT OF THE TOMMYKNOCKERS (Scott Glasgow)
  • NOPE (Michael Abels)
  • ONLY MURDERS IN THE BUILDING (Siddhartha Khosla)
  • ONZE NATUUR/OUR NATURE (Dirk Brosse)
  • OPERATION MINCEMEAT (Thomas Newman)
  • PAWS OF FURY: THE LEGEND OF HANK (Bear Mccreary)
  • PEACEMAKER (Clint Mansell & Kevin Kiner)
  • PENNYWORTH (Lorne Balfe)
  • PINOCCHIO (Alan Silvestri)
  • POLAR BEAR (Harry Gregson-Williams)
  • PREHISTORIC PLANET (Anže Rozman & Kara Talve)
  • PROFESSOR T (Hannes De Maeyer)
  • PURPLE HEARTS (Blake Neely)
  • RAISED BY WOLVES (Ben Frost & Marc Streitenfeld)
  • SANTA EVITA (Federico Jusid)
  • SECRET HEADQUARTERS (Lorne Balfe)
  • SECRETS OF THE SEA (Alan Williams)
  • SEE HOW THEY RUN (Daniel Pemberton)
  • SERENGETI (Alan Williams)
  • SHADOW MASTER (Scott Glasgow)
  • SHE SAID (Nicholas Britell)
  • SHETLAND (John Lunn)
  • SILENT RIVER (Brian Ralston)
  • SIN LÍMITES/BOUNDLESS (Federico Jusid)
  • SONIC THE HEDGEHOG 2 (Tom Holkenborg)
  • STAR TREK: LOWER DECKS (Chris Westlake)
  • STAR TREK: PRODIGY (Nami Melumad)
  • SUPERMARSU 2/SUPER FURBALL SAVES THE FUTURE (Panu Aaltio)
  • TADEO JONES 3: LA TABLA ESMERALDA/THE CURSE OF THE MUMMY (Zacarías M. De La Riva)
  • TALES OF THE JEDI (Kevin Kiner)
  • THAI CAVE RESCUE (Austin Wintory & Susie Benchasil Seiter)
  • THE ADAM PROJECT (Rob Simonsen)
  • THE AFTERPARTY (Daniel Pemberton)
  • THE AMAZING MAURICE (Tom Howe)
  • THE AUTOMAT (Hummie Mann)
  • THE BAD GUYS (Daniel Pemberton)
  • THE CROWN (Martin Phipps)
  • THE ENGLISH (Federico Jusid)
  • THE FLIGHT ATTENDENT (Blake Neely)
  • THE GOOD HOUSE (Theodore Shapiro)
  • THE GOOD KARMA HOSPITAL (Ben Foster)
  • THE GREEN PLANET (Benji Merrison & Will Slater)
  • THE ICE AGE ADVENTURES OF BUCK WILD (Batu Sener)
  • THE KING’S DAUGHTER (Joseph Metcalfe & John Coda/Grant Kirkhope)
  • THE LOST KING (Alexandre Desplat)
  • THE MENU (Colin Stetson)
  • THE ORVILLE (Debney/Mcneely/Cottee/Kaska)
  • THE PRINCESS (Martin Phipps)
  • THE RAILWAY CHILDREN RETURN (Edward Farmer & Martin Phipps)
  • THE SANDMAN (David Buckley)
  • THE SCHOOL FOR GOOD AND EVIL (Theodore Shapiro)
  • THE SERPENT QUEEN (Bear Mccreary)
  • THE SOUND OF VIOLET (Conrad Pope)
  • THE TIME TRAVELER’S WIFE (Blake Neely)
  • THE WEDDING PACT II: THE BABY PACT (Scott Glasgow)
  • THE WOMAN KING (Terence Blanchard)
  • THE WONDER (Matthew Herbert)
  • THE WONDERFUL WINTER OF MICKEY MOUSE (Christopher Willis)
  • THERE’S ALWAYS HOPE (Guy Farley)
  • THIS IS US (Siddhartha Khosla)
  • TILL (Abel Korzeniowski)
  • TRUE THINGS (Alex Baranowski)
  • UNCHARTED (Ramin Djawadi)
  • UNDONE (Amie Doherty)
  • WEDNESDAY (Danny Elfman & Chris Bacon)
  • WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING (Mychael Danna)
  • WILDCAT (Patrik Jonsson)
  • WILLOW (James Newton Howard & Xander Rodzinski)
  • WOLF (Matthijs Kieboom)
  • WOMEN TALKING (Hildur Guðnadóttir)

Thanks to all the composers, agents and labels that shared their work with me directly or the IFMCA. All the best for 2023!


Article by Pete Simons (c) 2023 Synchrotones

Advertisement
Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: