John Barry for Mary, Queen of Scots
Regal, romantic, epic -- could one expect anything less from the great John Barry? From the powerful main theme to the soothing calm of "Vivre et Mourir" -- and then, too, those moments of suspense that recall Barry's Bond scores. Exquisite.
2014 equivalent: The Imitation Game. Superior work that doesn't take one out of the period, but grounds the proceedings in a modern sensibility of suspense.
Richard Rodney Bennett for Nicholas and Alexandra
Also romantic, also epic, and sweeping in its soundscape -- now a mandolin, now a Spanish guitar (!), now the full orchestral treatment! I think of those exotic, romantic strings when Alexandra and Nicholas take a walk in the Crimea; I think of the pounding, awe-full fanfare as the First World War breaks out; I think of the Easter dance between the prison guards and the Romanov princesses.
2014 Equivalent: Interstellar. Big, bold, and takes chances in its arrangements (organs! what!).
Isaac Hayes for Shaft
Hayes' score has a pulse -- those bongos, the "wah-wah" of the guitar. Always moving, alive, electric...before slowing down for some sexy-times. It set the standard for the blaxploitation flicks to come: a modern, "different" sound with unexpected twists, knowing just how to get you going, going, going....
2014 Equivalent: The Grand Budapest Hotel, another "novelty" score that delivers in surprising ways.
Jerry Fielding for Straw Dogs
Stately, BBC-esque trumpets open the film -- I suppose to fool us into expecting lighter, veddy British fare. This, too, is what Dustin Hoffman expects when he first comes into town, but of course, things are never as they seem. Strikes the right mood, never distracting -- never memorable, either.
2014 Equivalent: The Theory of Everything. Because YAAAAAAWN.
Michel Legrand for Summer of '42
Haunting in sections, and definitely one of those earworm scores. And yet there are moments where I feel it's a little overwrought, distracting. It sounds off in a way that I can't quite place, and I don't think the piano is doing it any favors.
2014 Equivalent: Mr. Turner. Another haunting theme repeated effectively throughout.
Oscar went for Michel Legrand, but clearly there's one composer who rises above all the rest. My vote goes to...
MARY, QUEEN OF SCOTS
Next -- Supporting Actress Class of '71 (and '14)...
From 1971: Carnal Knowledge, The Go-Between, The Last Picture Show, Who is Harry Kellerman and Why Is He Saying Those Terrible Things About Me?
From 2014: Birdman, Boyhood, The Imitation Game, Into the Woods, Wild
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