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 Posted:   Sep 12, 2023 - 5:14 PM   
 By:   Scott Bettencourt   (Member)

Elemental has been showing up in LA theaters again, so I suspect that Disney will be making an awards push for it - either way, Newman seems a very plausible nominee, as he is a favorite of that branch with unexpected nominations for films like Passengers, The Good German and Saving Mr. Banks (the latter two being the only nom those films got)

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 12, 2023 - 7:22 PM   
 By:   John Mullin   (Member)

The perception is that ELEMENTAL was a bomb because it didn't have a huge opening weekend, but it turns out that it really had legs and has made around 475 million worldwide to date.

I didn't think it was a terribly interesting movie myself, but it certainly wasn't a disaster -- either critically or financially.

I found the score to be a bit light on themes, etc, at first, but I really like the _sound_ of it and some of the cues "Hot Air Balloon" and "Bubble Date" are very lovely.

I assume the score has as good a chance as anything at getting nominated. I think the song by Lauv, which Newman has a credit on, has a really good chance of being nominated as well.

 
 Posted:   Sep 12, 2023 - 8:01 PM   
 By:   SBD   (Member)

I wonder if Thomas Newman will get his 16th Oscar nomination for this score?

What do people here think? Oppenheimer will probably win the award, but I think Newman should have a good chance of getting nominated at least.

This may be early, but Indiewire's score predictions doesn't even list Newman as a likely contender -

Frontrunners:

“Barbie”
“Killers of the Flower Moon”
“Oppenheimer”
“Past Lives”
“Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse”

Contenders:

“Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny”
“Napoleon”
“Next Goal Wins”
“Nyad”
“Poor Things”
“Saltburn”
“Society of the Snow”
“The Color Purple”
“The Holdovers”
“The Killer”
“The Zone of Interest”
“Wish”

https://www.indiewire.com/awards/predictions/awards-predictions-2024-oscars-best-original-score-1234900541/

I have trouble seeing how all these obscure titles could be contenders, but NOT Newman...


Isn't it about time we stop paying attention to IndieWire? They know as much about good film music as I do about 18th century French architecture.

 
 Posted:   Sep 12, 2023 - 8:10 PM   
 By:   Scott Bettencourt   (Member)

Thomas Newman is one of my all-time favorite composers and probably my favorite composer of the last couple decades, but "a bit light on themes" sums up pretty well why I've been disappointed in many of his last 15 years or so of scores.

 
 Posted:   Sep 13, 2023 - 3:37 AM   
 By:   spielboy   (Member)

concur

something happened after WALL-E?

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 13, 2023 - 5:04 AM   
 By:   Night   (Member)

I don't love everything he has done in the last 15 years either. Operation Mincemeat for example ranks among his most boring works ever -- it had a few nice moments and that's about it.

But I personally thought that The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and at least a handful of others were really good scores. Not masterpieces, but really good.

I would have also loved to hear more themes, but generally, I don't necessarily look for themes in film music. I generally prefer interesting harmony and sounds over overt melody. That's probably one of the reasons why I remain a Newman devotee even I totally agree that his work in the last 15 years is nowhere near the quality of his work from the 90s to the early 00s.

Elemental is a nice 3/5 star score, but far from one of Newman's best - it wouldn't be anywhere near my top 25 favorite Newman scores - but given the depressing state of almost all other film music, even one of Newman's lesser scores is still a highpoint of the year in my opinion.

 
 Posted:   Sep 13, 2023 - 5:15 AM   
 By:   Solium   (Member)

I think I've only bought 2 of his, since he got the bond gig. One I (still) think is shit, the other decidedly average. So I have tended to swerve away from him (unfortunately).

Every now and then he writes a brilliant cue but over all I really can't connect with this composer at all.

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 13, 2023 - 5:19 AM   
 By:   Night   (Member)

For me it is just about the opposite. I connect with Newman more than almost any other film composer, at least almost any other currently working composer. Unlike most other film composers, he almost always writes fresh and innovative works.

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 13, 2023 - 6:00 AM   
 By:   Hurdy Gurdy   (Member)

Over the past 15 years, I'd say he's written some wonderfully thematic stuff, for example, SAVING MR BANKS, BRIDGE OF SPIES, PASSENGERS and his Indian flavoured scores (EXOTIC MARIGOLD 1&2, MALALA, VICTORIA & ABDUL).
Yes, he ain't writing up a storm like he was 30 years ago, but who is these days?

 
 Posted:   Sep 13, 2023 - 6:26 AM   
 By:   Mr. Jack   (Member)

The perception is that ELEMENTAL was a bomb because it didn't have a huge opening weekend, but it turns out that it really had legs and has made around 475 million worldwide to date.

Compare it to the previous Pixar movie, Lightyear, which had an opening weekend that was $20 million more than Elemental, yet its worldwide total was only $226 million, half of what Elemental eventually took in.

 
 Posted:   Sep 13, 2023 - 6:46 AM   
 By:   Solium   (Member)

The perception is that ELEMENTAL was a bomb because it didn't have a huge opening weekend, but it turns out that it really had legs and has made around 475 million worldwide to date.

Compare it to the previous Pixar movie, Lightyear, which had an opening weekend that was $20 million more than Elemental, yet its worldwide total was only $226 million, half of what Elemental eventually took in.


Granted it had legs but on a $200 million (!!!!!) dollar budget and another $100 million in marketing it might have broken even or squeaked out a tiny profit. Certainly not the blockbuster it was meant to be. I don't think the film lends itself to merchandising either, so I don't see much return in profits.

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 13, 2023 - 7:02 AM   
 By:   Peter Greenhill   (Member)

Already showing a profit and streaming starts today. Throw in DVD/Blu-ray + TV rights and this one will show a substantial profit.

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 13, 2023 - 9:11 AM   
 By:   John Mullin   (Member)

Thomas Newman is still my favorite working composer.

The last score by him that I really loved is VICTORIA AND ABDUL from 2017. I really liked both his Bond scores, I love BRIDGE OF SPIES and I thought FINDING DORY was great. There are several others in there like TOLKIEN, 1917, A MAN CALLED OTTO and now ELEMENTAL which I think are really good, but that I haven't felt like revisiting much.

But I certainly don't see a huge drop off in the quality of his work or anything like that. Almost nothing about THE LITTLE THINGS or OPERATION MINCEMEAT appealed to me (except for that "Room 13" cue), but so what? He's writing music to fit a particular movie, and he's got bosses to please. I'm still more interested in hearing what he does next than just about anyone else right now.

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 13, 2023 - 9:25 AM   
 By:   chriswg24   (Member)

Thomas Newman is still my favorite working composer.

The last score by him that I really loved is VICTORIA AND ABDUL from 2017. I really liked both his Bond scores, I love BRIDGE OF SPIES and I thought FINDING DORY was great. There are several others in there like TOLKIEN, 1917, A MAN CALLED OTTO and now ELEMENTAL which I think are really good, but that I haven't felt like revisiting much.

But I certainly don't see a huge drop off in the quality of his work or anything like that. Almost nothing about THE LITTLE THINGS or OPERATION MINCEMEAT appealed to me (except for that "Room 13" cue), but so what? He's writing music to fit a particular movie, and he's got bosses to please. I'm still more interested in hearing what he does next than just about anyone else right now.


I agree, there's something about Newman's music that just speaks to me and hits me in the feels. I always find something to love about every score, just some are richer that others. I've really adored A Man Called Otto and Elemental as both have really grown on me. I'll maybe post my 2020s Newman Playlist.

I'm always so interested in what is next on his to score list. I just hope we have many more years of him and retirement isn't on the horizon. And also, just give the man an Oscar - seriously. His work on Elemental is deserving because it feels like real music rather than computer generated score.

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 13, 2023 - 9:31 AM   
 By:   chriswg24   (Member)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Sm5QNdf-kU

If anyone needs a reminder of what a talent (and seemingly lovely guy) Thomas Newman is.

 
 Posted:   Sep 13, 2023 - 10:24 AM   
 By:   Scott Bettencourt   (Member)

concur

something happened after WALL-E?


For me, WALL-E was the last one of his great period (beginning with Fried Green Tomatoes). Since then, I think Bridge of Spies is top-notch, I really like Skyfall, and Victoria & Abdul seemed more melodic and varied than most of his recent output.

Since his pre-Tomatoes output wasn't that strongly melodic, I wonder if the more diffuse approach is just his personal preference. Or maybe that (mis?)quote I tend to attribute to Miklos Rozsa applies - "Before you're forty, the melodies chase you. After forty, you chase the melodies."

Christopher Young is another composer who may not personally prefer strong themes, and I also find his recent work much less memorable than from his heyday, so the question is "Is he less inspired now, or back to following his natural musical instincts?"

I do feel that Newman is someone who, if he lives long enough without winning a competitive Oscar, is a shoo-in for an Honorary. So many great scores, so many nominations, and a hugely influential sound.

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 14, 2023 - 6:48 AM   
 By:   Peter Greenhill   (Member)

I'd love Newman to get the Oscar for Elemental but already sense that Oppenheimer has the momentum and will probably win it. I suspect that Newman's chance may have gone, He should have won several by now,

What agreat interview with with Newman about Shawshank. So good to hear a detailed analysis of The Shawshank Redemption cue including why the film version was slightly different to what Newman intended.

Here's an article from 2014 in the WSJ, the 20th anniversary of the film's release about scoring Shawshank.

How Thomas Newman Scored ‘The Shawshank Redemption’
By
June 20, 2014


The first time Thomas Newman watched “The Shawshank Redemption” wasn't a wholly enjoyable experience. The composer had been chosen to write the score for the film, and as the screening at the old Warner Hollywood lot concluded, he felt a mix of joy and despair. “How could you not make this a worse movie?" he recalls thinking.

Mr. Newman didn't make “Shawshank” worse. After a disappointing theatrical release in September 1994, the film took off on home video and cable and became one of the most popular movies of the past 20 years. “Shawshank” earned Mr. Newman the first of 12 Academy Award nominations for films including “American Beauty,” “Wall-E” and “Saving Mr. Banks.”

The enduring cultural and economic power of “Shawshank” was the subject of a recent article in The Wall Street Journal, and after its publication some wondered how we could run such a piece without mentioning the contributions of Mr. Newman. On the eve of the 20th anniversary of the film’s release, we reached out to the 58-year-old composer, who shared his thoughts about the movie and how it shaped his future work.

Mr. Newman says “Shawshank” elicited such strong emotions without any music at all that the challenge was to create a score that elevated scenes without getting in their way. When he brought director Frank Darabont to his studio to walk him through an early version of his work, striking that delicate balance soon emerged as a focus of their collaboration.


“Shawshank Redemption,” the piece playing during Andy Dufresne’s escape, starts slowly and gathers speed as it builds toward the climactic moment when Tim Robbins’ Andy emerges from the sewage pipe, strips off his clothes and raises his arms toward the sky as rain washes over him. But the piece in the movie is a slightly toned-down version of the original cue. Mr. Darabont preferred a one-note climax over Mr. Newman’s three-note motif. “The crescendo of the music there felt too big to me, it had too much of a triumphal flourish,” says Mr. Darabont. “I asked Tom to dial it back a few degrees.”

"Brooks Was Here," which accompanies James Whitmore’s Brooks Hatlen as he struggles to adapt to life as a free man, is perhaps the simplest cue on the soundtrack. Yet it is also a fan favorite in part because it evokes the pain of a man as he comes to realize he can't survive on the outside.


Mr. Newman says creating pieces that “do very little but tend to pack a punch” became a hallmark of his later work. “When you have such emotion coming off a screen, how can you add to that emotion without overpowering a scene?” he says.

“I'm very sensitive to when a score crosses that line between enhancing the emotion and impact of a scene, and when it clobbers the viewer over the head by doing too much--which can actually be a very fine line, so sometimes the change needed is pretty subtle,” Mr. Darabont says.

The process wasn't entirely about dialing things back. For what became one of his favorite pieces, “So Was Red,” Mr. Newman stepped out of his comfort zone.

The cue plays near the end of the film as Morgan Freeman’s recently paroled Red makes his way to the hayfield in search of what Andy has left for him. Mr. Newman initially wrote the piece for a solo oboe. But the composer ultimately—and he says “reluctantly”—agreed to add a harmonica as an extension of a story element in the script. Earlier in the film, Red tells Andy he used to play the instrument on the outside, but that it no longer made sense to do so in prison. Andy later gives Red a harmonica, which is both a “parole-rejection” present and a continuation of his effort to convince Red that hope is worth holding onto.

So on the last day on the scoring stage, a harmonica player named Tommy Morgan played for Messrs. Darabont and Newman what viewers hear as Red finds the note and money that eventually lead to his reunion with Andy. “Well, this harmonica player casually delivered something dead-on perfect on the first take,” Mr. Darabont recalls. “When he was finished, Tom and I looked at each other and said, ‘Well, that’s done.’”

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 17, 2023 - 5:27 PM   
 By:   Night   (Member)

Yes, I hope he will get nominated or even win! He is way overdue and should have had many Oscars at this point.

For me it is still the best score of the year. Interesting and inventive harmony, orchestration and so on without it ever sounding dated.

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 20, 2023 - 1:16 PM   
 By:   chriswg24   (Member)

Yes, I hope he will get nominated or even win! He is way overdue and should have had many Oscars at this point.

For me it is still the best score of the year. Interesting and inventive harmony, orchestration and so on without it ever sounding dated.


Always enjoy your Thomas Newman posts Night. I agree, I've just loved this score and have found so much in it - it feels like real music. I would hope at least a nomination but a win, not just for Elemental but his career feels owed too. I just sometimes think Hollywood fails to recognise their greats before it's too late.

I really hope I'm wrong but how many more Thomas Newman scores will we get? White Bird feels like it will never appear!

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 20, 2023 - 2:36 PM   
 By:   Night   (Member)

Hopefully Newman has at least 10-15 years more left in him. I don't think he is that old yet, he isn't even in his 70s. His father died at 69, but he was a heavy smoker and died of lung cancer, that's a bit different I think. His mother lived until her mid 80s, which is probably a much better estimation of how long Newman will still be with us.

I would be shocked if he retired. But unless i'm mistaken, I recall him saying a few years back or so that retirement is not on the horizon. He wants to keep making music.

I can't wait to find out what his upcoming projects are even if we probably have to wait to next year for a new Newman score (not counting White Bird).

 
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