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The soundtrack cover and the film's principal score composer Hans Zimmer
Hans Zimmer is one of the busiest film composers in Hollywood (over 100 scores and counting).  
Between his own scores and those he collaborates on (everything from the “Batman” and “Pirates of
the Caribbean” blockbusters to rom-coms like “It’s Complicated”), the German born musician who
has been nominated for eight Oscars also has the distinction of being included in a rare reference to
movie music within a movie.  

The scene occurs in Nancy Meyers’ comedy “The Holiday” when Kate Winslet and Jack Black,
portraying a film composer, enter a video store and Black’s character recommends several different
DVDs based solely on their memorable music themes, humming them to hilarious effect.  Among
these is Zimmer’s “Driving Miss Daisy.”  “It’s the best guilty pleasure you can have without clogging
up your arteries,” the composer said with a laugh, momentarily interrupting work on “Inception,” a
new collaboration with director Christopher Nolan.

But Zimmer – a ruthless perfectionist who cites Ennio Morricone as an inspiration – remembers his
Oscar winning moment in 1994 for “The Lion King” with less pleasure.  “I thought it was gauche and
full of hubris to prepare a speech.  I had nothing prepared and I forget to thank my mother and she’
s never, never forgiven me for it,” the composer relayed, “Look, I was off that stage before they
started playing the music.”  

Nominated again this year for his memorable, driving score for “Sherlock Holmes,” Zimmer will have
an acceptance speech ready should his name be called Sunday night when the Academy Awards are
presented.  “I suppose I’m just a little more grown up these days so now I think, “Go and write the
speech, don’t be sheepish.”  (Read the complete interview with Hans Zimmer

We’ve made our own Oscar nominated compilation soundtrack with highlighted selections from the
original score nominees:

1.        “Avatar” – Director James Cameron re-teams with his “Titanic” composer James Horner for
another emotive, blockbuster score – albeit one not quite as unforgettable as a certain familiar
melody played on that mournful penny whistle (basis for the hit “My Heart Will Go On”).   But Horner’
s epic hallmarks – the whooshing orchestra, the mega sized children’s choir with their wordless
harmonies, the fanciful flutes – are here along with a healthy dose of booming percussion.  Three
tracks from this mega blockbuster give a good representation of the score – “Jake’s First Flight” is an
exuberant encapsulation of the Horner style and makes a good lead off track followed by the
inspiring “Climbing Up Iknimaya – The Path to Heaven” which ladles on the choral effects and lastly,
the gently flowing, new age inspired “The Bioluminescence of the Night” with its mixture of strings and
electronic wind chimes.

2.        “Fantastic Mr. Fox” – Alexandre Desplat, master of shimmering, delicate film scores (“Girl with
a Pearl Earring,” “Lust, Caution”) goes countryish with his whimsical music for Wes Anderson’s
animated film.  The soundtrack includes a mixture of Desplat’s wacky cues (the tongue in cheek
banjo pickin’ on “Boggis, Bunce & Bean” is a standout ) along with retro and indie tunes by Burl Ives,
the Beach Boys, the Rolling Stones and others.  The slightly melancholy “Kristofferson’s Theme,” with
its plucked piano and strings is pure Desplat.

3.        “The Hurt Locker” – Marco Beltrami and Buck Sanders composed an unsettling ambient score
utilizing electric guitar, throbbing bass and electronic effects.  “Hostile” is a suspenseful cue that
includes musical hints of the film’s Middle East location.

4.        “Sherlock Holmes” – “I was imagining the whole thing much more in the Kurt Weill-Brecht
Victorian London than what we had grown up with for the Sherlock Holmes movies,” Zimmer said
about his compositions for director Guy Ritchie’s action driven crowd pleaser which utilizes banjo,
accordion, out of tune piano and sound effects, along with the Hungarian cimbalom (hammered
dulcimer) in the score.  Standouts include “Discombobulate,” the driving lead off track, “Ah
Putrefaction,” with a lovely string quartet that belies its title and “My Mind Rebels at Stagnation,” a
gentler restatement of Zimmer’s central musical themes.

5.        “Up” – As noted in our Summer ’09 soundtrack roundup, Michael Giacchino’s delightful yet
wistful score for this animated winner is set up perfectly with the cue “Married Life,” the four minute
piano/violin based waltz that begins the film and lends the movie its poignant undertone.
More Reviews,
Interviews, and
in the Archives
More soundtrack recommendations in the 2004-2009 ARCHIVES