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Soundtracks, Soundtracks, Soundtracks: 2012 Review (Cloud Atlas, Skyfall, Dark Knight Rises...)

Dec. 21, 2012by: Paul Huffman
100%

There are many things that make a movie what it is. It all starts with a story (according to what every How-To book on screenwriting tells us), there is the director and his crew, there are the actors, who bust their asses to bring a vision to life. Then comes the wonderful world of post-production. What is one result of that? The music. Soundtracks enhance the movie going experience. They can make us cry, they can pump us up, they can make us remember the 80's. Whether it be a musical band or a composer, soundtracks help our favorite movies stay etched in our mind forever.

If you ask me, 2012 was a damn good year for film. When I look at the lineup, and especially the selections that I've made for this article...it was the year of the geek-out. We got the conclusion of Nolan's amazing Batman trilogy, we got Peter Jackson returning to the Shire and beyond. We were treated to a fanboys wet dream in finally seeing The Avengers on the big screen, and another long awaited Bond film. To compliment all these films, were scores that did exactly what they were meant to do in making love to our ears. Words can't describe the emotions that the Cloud Atlas theme brought out, and there is no possible verbalization that will justify the happiness of being treated to Tarantino's musical sensibilities to close out the year. Happy Holidays, indeed!

1. CLOUD ATLAS - TOM TYKWER, REINHOLD HEIL, & JOHNNY KLIMEK

Not only did I find Cloud Atlas a knock out of the park from a visual standpoint, but for me it hit all the right emotional notes as well. Now in hindsight its weird to think about the fact that the theme was rocking it throughout the whole film, but it was during its run in the credits that I didnt want to leave. The films co-director Tom Tykwer brought his team together to conduct a score that some critics have compared to the works of John Williams, hell of a comparison. Id have to say this is my favorite score of the year for this one track, and I personally hope it walks away with the Golden Globe. Purchase the soundtrack here

2. DJANGO UNCHAINED - VARIOUS ARTISTS

The film has not even been released yet, but we recently were treated with the whole shebang in the form of stream and I must say it did not disappoint. We get the classic tracks that capture the spaghetti western theme courtesy of Luis Bacalov and the legendary Ennio Morricone. Also in true Tarantino form he utilizes modern artists like only he can with folks like Rick Ross, Anthony Hamilton, John Legend, James Brown, and 2pac. Tarantinos films have been known for brilliant use of his chosen music to enhance already entertaining scenes, and I expect no less from this love letterperhaps even more so. Purchase the soundtrack here

3. THE DARK KNIGHT RISES - HANS ZIMMER

If Banes central theme for this film doesnt make you want to mark into battle I just, I dont know about ya. The obvious standout track here is Deshi Basara, which features a Moroccan chant that translates into rise up. Obviously we all see the connection there. When it comes to the film, Im mixed on how I feel about itbut I cant deny there are moments of the film that carried the desired emotional weight. Its a testament to the talent of Hans Zimmer that he once again managed to capture this. James Newton Howard almost returned to contribute, but felt his services werent required after hearing the gem that was the Inception soundtrack. I like ya James, but Dark Knight Rises was in good hands. Purchase the soundtrack here

4. SKYFALL - THOMAS NEWMAN

Thomas Newman is a frequent collaborator with Sam Mendes, my favorite of which being his work on American BeautyI am pleased to say he hit another homerun here, folks! While Adeles contribution to the long list of Bond themes doesnt strike me as the most impressive, it definitely got the job done. The real Skyfall soundtrack treat is the sprinkles of the classic Bond theme sprinkled throughout, nostalgia ensues if only for brief moments. Although not featured on the album, previous Bond composer David Arnolds version of the classic theme is featured on the films closing credits. Purchase the soundtrack here

5. LINCOLN - JOHN WILLIAMS

It seems wrong not to include a John Williams piece, when once again he delivers. In his work on Spielbergs latest outing I see shades of his work on films like Saving Private Ryan and The Patriot. On these films, he captures the patriotic feel of the age to the point where you cant help but get swept up in it. On this effort, Williams employed the help of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and their talents are put to good use in several scenes. John cemented his status as a legend of the art form a long time ago, and his score for Lincoln only keeps that hot streak going. This whole thing had God Bless America written all over it. Purchase the soundtrack here

6. THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY - HOWARD SHORE

The journey back to Middle Earth has been anticipated by many for a long while, the production was plagued with early problems but all the pieces fell where they were supposed to. The pressure was on for all, including composer Howard Shoreand did he deliver? Does an Ork piss where he pleases? We get the old familiar themes from the old Lord of the Rings trilogy and Shore plays around to satisfy this sense of a whole different adventure that we are about to embark on. It was a real treat to here this score blare through big screen speakers again, bring on the next two. Purchase the soundtrack here

HONORABLE MENTION: THE AVENGERS - ALAN SILVESTRI
Extra Tidbit: These selections are based on the films that I've seen, please let me know of any scores that have fallen under my radar this year that have stuck you. PS, another honorable mention here is the soundtrack to Amazing Spider-Man via James Horner.
Source: JoBlo

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8:03AM on 12/21/2012

Somewhat agreed

The Cloud Atlas soundtrack is a knockout as far as I'm concerned - easily the best of the year. Considering that I had never heard of the composer before is really saying something. I'm enjoying the heck out of The Hobbit score as well, but that might have more to do with how enjoyable it is just to be back in Jackson's Middle Earth in general. I disagree strongly with the Skyfall score's inclusion. I bought it under the assumption it would have more uniqueness to it, but overall I found it
The Cloud Atlas soundtrack is a knockout as far as I'm concerned - easily the best of the year. Considering that I had never heard of the composer before is really saying something. I'm enjoying the heck out of The Hobbit score as well, but that might have more to do with how enjoyable it is just to be back in Jackson's Middle Earth in general. I disagree strongly with the Skyfall score's inclusion. I bought it under the assumption it would have more uniqueness to it, but overall I found it extremely bland. Everything else, though, I agree. Though I wouldn't have given The Avengers an honorable mention. It was very bland as well. My honorable mentions would have been Brave and John Carter from Mars.
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10:27AM on 12/21/2012

Awesome

I just got the Cloud Atlas score yesterday and planned on rocking it during work.
I just got the Cloud Atlas score yesterday and planned on rocking it during work.
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1:00AM on 12/22/2012

Good list.....only

I think you should stick to original film scores? Good list though.
Also consider: Prometheus, Beasts of The Southern Wild,
Honorable Mention: Snow White And The Huntsman
I think you should stick to original film scores? Good list though.
Also consider: Prometheus, Beasts of The Southern Wild,
Honorable Mention: Snow White And The Huntsman
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6:26AM on 12/22/2012
A great list, and I'm happy you mentioned Horner's Amazing Spider-Man because that was my favourite soundtrack of the year!
A great list, and I'm happy you mentioned Horner's Amazing Spider-Man because that was my favourite soundtrack of the year!
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