February 6, 2020
International Film Music Critics Association Award Nominations Announced
Hildur Guðnadóttir Recieves Five Nominations; Multiple Nominations For Alexandre Desplat, Bear Mccreary, Thomas Newman, John Williams.
The International Film Music Critics Association (IFMCA) announces its list of nominees for excellence in musical scoring in 2019, for the 16th annual IFMCA Awards. For the first time in IFMCA history a female composer leads the field, with Icelandic composer and cellist Hildur Guðnadóttir receiving five separate nominations for her work on the critically acclaimed comic-book drama JOKER and for the devastating HBO television series CHERNOBYL. These are the first nominations for Guðnadóttir, who is nominated in the categories for Film Score of the Year, Composer of the Year, Drama Score, Television Score, and Film Music Composition of the Year. IFMCA member James Southall was particularly complementary about JOKER, describing it as having ‘complexity in its extraordinary emotional depth,’ and calling it a ‘primal’ score which ‘made him think’.
Also nominated for both Score of the Year and Composer of the Year are veteran composers Alexandre Desplat, Thomas Newman, and John Williams. French composer Desplat’s most lauded score of 2019 is the one he wrote for director Greta Gerwig’s new adaption of the classic American novel LITTLE WOMEN, which is also nominated for Drama Score. IFMCA member Jon Broxton said that the score ‘overflows with gorgeous orchestrations, sublime instrumental combinations and harmonies,’ and has ‘a dramatic sense of freedom and movement, effortless elegance, and lush emotional content’. Desplat’s other major scores in 2019 include the French drama Adults in the Room, the animated sequel THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS 2, and director Roman Polanski’s look at the Dreyfus Affair of 1906 in J’ACCUSE. Desplat previously won the IFMCA Score of the Year award in 2008 for THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON.
American composer Thomas Newman receives his nominations mostly for his work on director Sam Mendes’s epic World War I action-drama 1917, which is also nominated for Action/Adventure/Thriller Score and Film Music Composition of the Year. IFMCA member Daniel Schweiger called the score ‘a musical experience unlike any other’ that brings ‘the war to end all wars to daringly creative, and dramatically impactful musical life.’ Also in 2019 Newman wrote music for the Netflix drama THE HIGHWAYMEN, which explores the Bonnie & Clyde story from a different perspective, and the biopic TOLKIEN, which is another WWI movie, albeit one that specifically looks at the wartime experiences of the author of The Lord of the Rings.
The legendary John Williams, who turns 88 next week, wrote the final installment in the STAR WARS saga, THE RISE OF SKYWALKER, and in doing so completed a 40-year film music project spanning nine movies that may never be equaled in the history of cinema. The score, which is also nominated for Fantasy/SciFi/Horror Score and Film Music Composition of the Year, is described by IFMCA member James Southall as ‘one last brilliant piece of musical adventure to call time on his signature work … a triumphant conclusion to an extraordinary musical saga,’ who also said that ‘it’s simply impossible to overstate Williams’s contribution to the series’ success’. In a similar vein, IFMCA member Jon Broxton opined that ‘no-one has achieved the holy triumvirate of musical excellence, peer respect, and pop culture recognition the way that John Williams has,’ and described the entire STAR WARS saga as ‘works of staggering genius and beauty … his Ring Cycle, the work that will define his life and his legacy, a nine-movement 25-hour masterpiece of enduring musical brilliance that has taken a full 42 years to come to fruition’. Williams has three prior IFMCA Score of the Year wins, for STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS in 2015, WAR HORSE in 2011, and MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA in 2005.
The fifth nominee for Score of the Year is Englishman John Powell’s HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON: THE HIDDEN WORLD, the third and final entry in the series of well-loved animated films based on the novels by Cressida Cowell. IFMCA member Christian Clemmensen said the score was ‘a satisfying conclusion to an incredible trilogy of music’ and noted that Powell’s work, led by three exuberant main themes of friendship and flying, has ‘become recognizable to children worldwide and has developed into the most famous musical anthem’ from any DreamWorks picture. Powell previously won the IFMCA Score of the Year awards in 2018 for SOLO and in 2010 for the original HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON.
The fifth nominee for Composer of the Year is American composer Bear McCreary, who wrote music for an astonishing six films and four television series in 2019. The most lauded of these are GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS, which is nominated in the Fantasy-SciFi-Horror category, and THE PROFESSOR AND THE MADMAN, which is nominated in the Drama category. IFMCA member Florent Groult noted that McCreary ‘takes up [existing Godzilla themes] with great passion and turns them into a score that is massive and fantastic,’ while IFMCA member Randall D. Larson called it a ‘supremely impressive musical conception rich in agitato gestures and textured in dark, flaring colors; a magnificent work that will stay in memory for a long time’. McCreary’s other work in 2020 includes HAPPY DEATH DAY 2U, RIM OF THE WORLD, the reboot of CHILD’S PLAY, and ELI, as well as the TV shows THE WALKING DEAD, SEE, and PROVEN INNOCENT. This is McCreary’s first Composer of the Year nomination, and his first IFMCA nominations outside the TV and Video Game categories.
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 two of the five nominees are women. British composer Nainita Desai impressed members with her spectacular, colorful score for the nature film UNTAMED ROMANIA, which is also nominated in the Documentary category, as well as her scores for the Syrian civil war documentary FOR SAMA, among others. Meanwhile, French composer Anne-Sophie Versnaeyen wrote a beautiful score for the nature documentary CHAMBORD, having spent many years working as an orchestrator and arranger in French cinema for composers such as Alexandre Desplat and Guillaume Roussel.
The final three composers nominated for Breakthrough Composer are: British electronic composer Bobby Krlic, whose work on the disturbing horror film MIDSOMMAR earned many plaudits; French composer Mathieu Lamboley, who wrote a broad and expressive orchestral score for the animated film MINUSCULE: LES MANDIBULES DU BOUT DU MONDE; and German Christoph Zirngibl, whose music for the documentary feature FINIS TERRAE was rich and detailed in its musical exploration of big topics like faith and global politics.
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 several from France (Bruno Coulais for BLANCHE COMME NEIGE in Comedy, Laurent Perez Del Mar for LE MYSTÈRE HENRI PICK in Comedy, and Dan Levy for I LOST MY BODY IN ANIMATION), Spanish composers Arturo Cardelús (BUÑUEL IN THE LABYRINTH OF THE TURTLES, Animation) and Carlos Martín Jara (SORDO: THE SILENT WAR, Action/Adventure/Thriller), Japanese composer Naoki Sato (MASQUERADE HOTEL, Action/Adventure/Thriller), and another Frenchman, this time scoring a movie from Sweden – Nathaniel Méchaly for ELD & LÅGOR aka SWOON IN COMEDY.
Several other composers are receiving their first ever IFMCA Award nominations this year in addition to the aforementioned Cardelús, Levy, Martín, and Méchaly, including Scott Bomar (Dolemite Is My Name, Comedy), Gordy Haab (STAR WARS JEDI: FALLEN ORDER, Game), Samuel Sim (THE DARK CRYSTAL: AGE OF RESISTANCE, Television), and Nathan Whitehead (DAYS GONE, Game).
The International Film Music Critics Association will announce the winners of the 16th IFMCA Awards on February 20, 2020.
For the full list of nominees see IFMCA.