Thursday Movie Picks: Unforgettable Film Scores

A weekly series hosted by Wandering Through the Shelves

Hello and welcome back to the Thursday Movie Picks series. Thanks to Brittani over Rambling Film who suggested the theme, this week we are asked to pick three to five unforgettable musical scores. Since it was Damien Chazelle's birthday last Sunday — and I completely forgot to write the appreciation post I wanted to write in January 2019 — I decided to go with scores from his films, three unforgettable scores composed by Justin Hurwitz. 

First Man (2018) - Review


Plot: Set between 1961 and 1969, this biographical drama of astronaut Neil Armstrong (Ryan Gosling) follows the journey that made Armstrong the first man to walk on the moon. 

This is a terrific character study of a quiet, introverted man haunted by death of his daughter who saw in landing on the moon his only chance at finding peace. Gosling's performance is downright superb as he conveys feelings and emotions mostly through subtle facial movements. Equally excellent is Hurwitz's score that carries the emotional intensity to perfection. I'm still not sure how this did not win Best Score. 

La La Land (2016) - Review


Plot: Aspiring actress Mia (Emma Stone) and dedicated jazz musician Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) meet while pursuing their dreams in Los Angeles, the city known for destroying hopes. 

A moving love letter to Hollywood, La La Land is a charming, inspiring film that pushes you to pursue your dreams, even when the outcome may not be exactly what you want. The performances are terrific, the cinematography gorgeous and the ending heartbreaking, but the score is was stuck the most with me of the film. It doesn't simply accompany the film, it makes the film. 

Whiplash (2014) - Review


Plot: Andrew (Miles Teller) is a young man with a dream, becoming one of the greatest jazz drummers of his generation. In order to achieve that, not only he has to be better than his fellow students but he has to impress his instructor (J.K. Simmons).

This is a tense and exciting drama about not giving up and pursuing one's dreams, it has great performances — a surprisingly good one from Teller and an excellent, Oscar-worthy one from Simmons — but what stuck with me the most is the score. Simply magnificent. 

20 comments :

  1. Oh yes the score in First Man was amazing ! It was actually my fav thing about the movie

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  2. You can't go wrong with the scores in Chazelle's movies! I didn't like First Man but the other films were great. Especially Whiplash

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    1. Well, two out of three is better than nothing haha

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  3. I have only seen La La Land and was not taken with it as much as everyone else. I love musicals and know the director wanted people who may not be so musically inclined but it really hurt my ears every time Ryan Gosling tried to sing. I did love the cinematography and costumes. I haven't seen the other 2 yet but want to

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    1. I love La La Land probably for the reason you mentioned, I'm not really a musical person but Chazelle crafted something amazing and I loved every second of it. And I agree about Gosling's singing, it is far from being perfect. But you know what? That imperfection is what made me care and relate to the character the most because he's a flawed human being, like the rest of us.

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  4. Oh a theme within the theme!! Love those!

    I liked First Man without loving it. Gosling gives an excellent interior performance but the film is chilly and keeps you at arms length which kept me from fully becoming involved in it.

    Whiplash is an intense film with a strong score. I'm not much for Teller but he does well in this and J.K. Simmons always rocks the house.

    I was terribly disappointed in La La Land. I expected to adore it but found it interminable and was relieved when the end credits rolled. One of the worst thing about it was, and this is a current fad that I don't understand, the leads could not sing! If I watch a musical I want and expect the people in it to be able to at least carry a tune.

    All the more modern films with scores that I love, Legends of the Fall, The Last of the Mohicans etc. I've used before, and I thought by going to the Oscar list I could come up with alternates but ended up double dipping anyway. But I do love these scores.

    The Wizard of Oz (1939)-Dorothy (Judy Garland) is “Off to See the Wizard” (Frank Morgan) “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” when she is told by Glinda the Good Witch (Billie Burke) to “Follow the Yellow Brick Road” with the Scarecrow (Ray Bolger) who wishes “If I Only Had a Brain”, the Tin Man (Jack Haley) who wonders what would happen “If I Only Had Heart” and the Cowardly Lion (Bert Lahr) who tells them “If I Only Had the Nerve” what he would do “If I Were King of the Forest”. After being told by Munchkins how things were “In the Merry Old Land of Oz” they find themselves pursued by the Wicked Witch (Margaret Hamilton) who wants Dorothy’s ruby slippers and causes no end of trouble until the word can be spread that “Ding Dong the Witch is Dead!”

    Oklahoma! (1955)-“Oh What a Beautiful Mornin’” when Curly (Gordon MacRae) comes riding up on “The Surrey with the Fringe On Top” to court Laurie (Shirley Jones) who is hesitant to express her true feelings to him because “People Will Say We’re in Love”. Unsure she turns to her friend Ado Annie (Gloria Grahame) who tells her “I’m Just a Girl Who Cain’t Say No” but also tells her “Many a New Day Will Dawn” when she’ll have another chance with Curly if the dangerous Jud (Rod Steiger) who is pursuing Laurie doesn’t get in the way. But then “Pore Jud is Daid” but everyone else is happy because:
    “We know we belong to the land
    And the land we belong to is grand!
    And when we say
    Yeeow! Aye-yip-aye-yo-ee-ay!
    We're only sayin'
    You're doin' fine, Oklahoma!
    Oklahoma
    O.K. L - A - H - O - M - A
    OKLAHOMA!”

    West Side Story (1961)-“Something’s Coming” between the enemy gangs the Jets and the Sharks but “Gee, Officer Krupke” gets in the way before they can rumble. During the big competition dance at the gym which follows former Jet Tony (Richard Beymer) sees “Maria” (Natalie Wood) sister of Shark leader Bernardo (George Chakiris) and knows that “Tonight” is special. Later when Bernardo’s girlfriend Anita (Rita Moreno) tells Bernardo things are better in “America” Maria realizes “I Feel Pretty” and that she and Tony share “One Hand, One Heart” even as Anita tells her “A Boy Like That” will bring only heartache. But she believes and tells Tony “Somewhere” away from all the conflict “There’s a Place for Us”.

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    1. I'm sorry La La Land didn't work for you. But at least you love Whiplash.

      The Wizard of Oz is the only of your picks that I've seen and I agree, it has terrific music.

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    2. hey Joel..I'm with you about La-La Land:)

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  5. Can't say no to these picks as these are inspired choices.

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  6. The Whiplash score was amazing - that and Simmons's performance was what made the film a hit for me.

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  7. I haven't seen the first two yet.. hahaha. I know. And Whiplash, although an amazing movie and I loved it from start to finish, has a soundtrack I can't listen to. I just don't particularly like jazz... which is probably why I haven't watched La La Land either. :D

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    1. OMG you haven't seen La La Land yet? What are you even doing with your life?! Haha just kidding. Anyways, I didn't like jazz either but these movies made me fall in love with it :)

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  8. Great choices. I really liked Badlands, and more recently Ad Astra and Joker's soundtrack.

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    1. I wasn't a fan of Ad Astra and Joker's but I loved Badlands's score.

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  9. I haven't seen First Man yet. Anyway I have noticed that space movies tend to have nice scores.

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