IFMCA 2020 Nominees

February 4, 2021

IFMCA Award Nominations for 2020 Film, TV, & Game Scores Announced


The International Film Music Critics Association (IFMCA) announces its list of nominees for excellence in musical scoring in 2020, for the 17th annual IFMCA Awards. British composer Daniel Pemberton and German composer Hans Zimmer lead the field with the most number of nominations, each receiving a total of five.

Pemberton’s nominations were for his work on three films: the literary adventure “Enola Holmes,” based on the popular young adult novels by Nancy Springer about the younger sister of the legendary sleuth Sherlock; the political drama “The Trial of the Chicago 7,” which looks at the real-life trial of a group of anti–Vietnam War protesters charged with inciting riots at the 1968 Democratic National Convention; and “Rising Phoenix,” an acclaimed documentary following the stories of nine Paralympic athletes. “Enola Holmes” is nominated for Score of the Year, and Pemberton is nominated for Composer of the Year. IFMCA member James Southall called Enola Holmes “a great orchestral adventure romp, whose quirks only add to its great sense of fun … conventional by recent Pemberton standards but still features a number of quirks and it feels so continually fresh and energetic … one of the year’s strongest scores”.

Zimmer’s five nominations were all for his work on one film, “Wonder Woman 1984,” the blockbuster sequel to the 2017 DC superhero film directed by Patty Jenkins, and starring Gal Gadot and Chris Pine. The score is nominated for Score of the Year and in its Fantasy/Sci-Fi/Horror genre, Zimmer is nominated for Composer of the Year, and two of Zimmer’s individual cues – “1984” and “Themyscira” – are nominated for Film Music Composition of the Year. IFMCA member Jon Broxton praised the score’s “upbeat attitude, its buoyant sense of fun and optimism, and the unashamed, un-ironic sincerity of its emotional content,” and said that “the depth and complexity of Zimmer’s thematic ideas makes the score satisfying from an intellectual point of view, meaning that the whole thing succeeds on every count.”

Also nominated for both Score of the Year and Composer of the Year is British composer Christopher Willis, the winner of the IFMCA’s Comedy Score award in 2017. Willis’s score for the Dickensian literary comedy “The Personal History of David Copperfield” was described by IFMCA member Florent Groult as a “luminous neo-romantic mini symphony,” while his colleague Olivier Desbrosses called it an “inspired score that in no way seeks to hide its many nods to the great masters of classical music,” and features “sensational orchestrations and constant elegance.”

The other nominees for Score of the Year are “The Call of the Wild” by British composer John Powell and “Fukushima 50” by Japanese composer Tarō Iwashiro. “The Call of the Wild” is a new adaptation of the classic Jack London adventure novel of the same name, starring Harrison Ford. IFMCA member Christian Clemmensen said that Powell’s score “transcends the stereotypes of Western film music, merging that genre with modern fantasy and adventure sensibilities to form one of the most uniquely satisfying soundtrack experiences of its era.”

Meanwhile, “Fukushima 50” tells the harrowing true story of what happened to the workers at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, and how they risked their lives to stay at the plant and prevent its destruction in the wake of the devastating earthquake and tsunami that rocked Japan in 2011. The score by Tarō Iwashiro was described by IFMCA member Joep de Bruijn as being “full of strong orchestral and solo performances, a memorable theme, and a great dramatic scope”. Iwashiro’s nomination in this category represents the first time in IFMCA history that a score from a Japanese film has been included in the five choices for Score of the Year.

The other nominees for Composer of the Year are Federico Jusid and Bear McCreary. Argentine composer Jusid is nominated for his work on several scores across multiple genres, including the Spanish super-hero themed serial killer thriller “Orígenes Secretos” (also nominated in its genre), the romantic drama “El Verano Que Vivimos,” the thriller “No Matarás,” and TV series including “The Head”. American composer McCreary’s work in 2020 includes the animated film “Animal Crackers” (also nominated in its genre), the horror-thrillers “Fantasy Island” and “Freaky,” the espionage action movie “Ava,” and several prestigious continuing television dramas such as “Outlander,” “The Walking Dead,” “Snowpiercer,” and “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”

Each year the IFMCA goes out of its way to recognize emerging talent in the film music world, and this year is no exception. The nominees in the Breakthrough Composer of the Year category are a diverse group, and the IFMCA is especially excited to reveal that again two of the five nominees are women. Israeli composer Nami Melumad co-wrote two outstanding scores alongside veteran Michael Giacchino, notably the comedy “An American Pickle” and the video game “Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond,” showcasing her excellence and diversity across multiple genres. Meanwhile, British composer Isobel Waller-Bridge wrote a quintessentially English period score for the latest version of Jane Austen’s “Emma,” combining whimsical orchestral music with bel canto opera and folk tunes. Waller-Bridge, who is also known for her score for the hit TV comedy “Fleabag” created by and starring her sister Phoebe, is nominated for this award alongside her Emma co-composer David Schweitzer.

The final three composers nominated for Breakthrough Composer begin with British composer Alex Baranowski, who wrote outstanding scores for films such as “The Windermere Children” and “A Christmas Carol” after working extensively and successfully in the theater. British filmmaker Thomas Clay wrote and directed an independent ‘Puritan western’ entitled “Fanny Lye Deliver’d,” and then decided to score the film himself after he was unable to secure a composer; the resulting score is a blend of 16th century period instruments and contemporary dramatic scoring that belies its low-budget status, and is all the more impressive considering the circumstances in which it was composed. Finally, American composer Philip Klein wrote a superb score for the war drama “The Last Full Measure,” the first credited work of his career after he spent several years writing additional music and orchestrating for many of Hollywood’s premier composers. Clay’s score for “Fanny Lye Deliver’d” is also nominated individually in the Drama category.

As it has in previous years, the IFMCA takes pride in honoring composers from across the film music world; in addition to the ones already mentioned, this year’s international nominees include French composer Bruno Coulais for the Irish animated film “Wolfwalkers,” and Cypriot composer George Kallis for the Turkish documentary film “Sadan Hanım”.

The IFMCA is also especially pleased to note that the majority of the nominees in the Comedy category were written by women – “An American Pickle” jointly by Nami Melumad with Michael Giacchino, “Emma” jointly by Isobel Waller-Bridge with David Schweitzer, “Godmothered” by Rachel Portman, and “Wild Mountain Thyme” by Amelia Warner. This is the first time in IFMCA history that a single score category has had a female-composer majority, and is testament to the work of organizations such as the Alliance for Women Film Composers (AFWC) and their efforts to redress the gender gap in film music.

Several composers are receiving their first ever IFMCA Award nominations this year in addition to the aforementioned newcomers; these are Terence Blanchard (“Da 5 Bloods,” Drama), Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross, and Jon Batiste (“Soul,” Animation), Laura Karpman and Raphael Saadiq (“Lovecraft Country,” Television), and Shigeru Umebayashi (“Ghost of Tsushima,” Game).

The International Film Music Critics Association will announce the winners of the 17th IFMCA Awards at 9AM PST on February 18, 2021.

For the full list of nominees see IFMCA.

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