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Top Ten Overrated and Underrated Scores of the 2000s decade...


Kevin
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Top Ten Overrated Scores of the 2000s:

10) Avatar - James Horner

Yes, I feel that Avatar was a let down, only for the non Navi tribal bits pulling down the score. With the Na'vi cues, the score becomes much more enjoyable and interesting with this mystical world being created musically. I also felt that "War" without the chorus was a bit shallow to listen to, and the album needed a proper ending to it. Considering he had a year to perfect the score (like Howard Shore perfect), the end result can leave you wondering what went wrong...

9) Atlantis: The Lost Empire - James Newton Howard

I just didn't connect with this score as much as I would have expected. The action bits are good if a bit standard by Newton Howard standards. The choral cues are reminiscent of The Abyss, but that does not mean that is bad. I guess the thing that connect with me was the lack of memorability in its primary theme (compared with the great theme from Dinosaur the year before) and the somewhat inconsistent album.

8) Children of Dune - Brian Tyler

Holy track temp, Batman! Is this Gladiator Mark II? That being said, Tyler does a decent job of arranging the influences and making the score attractive enough to listen to. If you wanted a ruckus, look for it in parts of this score. What sinks this score to the overrated status, is the album presentation which is 77 minutes in 35 cues. The first half of the album is great but after that the cues which grow less interesting lowering to filler by the end.

7) Far From Heaven - Elmer Bernstein

I understand that this score was a nostalgic flash from the past with the jazzy sounds of the 1950s, but I just didn't see this score as a highlight of Elmer Bernstein's career. My expectations were probably too high. I do enjoy piano-y scores, I really do, but there's something about this one that doesn't pull me in. To say that this score is just as good as Frankie Starlight and To Kill A Mockingbird is definitely a stretch, but it's not bad; it's just overrated.

6) Stardust - Ilan Eskheri

The problem with this score is that its too generic in its writing; nothing new or fresh. There are scores that take influences and become better and rise above them (Andrew Lockington's Journey to the Center of the Earth). Stardust doesn't feel like that at all. There is not alot of thematic material or specific terrific moments to be remembered here. It's just a generic fantasy score for 60 minutes; exactly what you expect. But if you don't like surprises, dive in!

5) Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets - John Williams

First of all, my respect for John Williams is unquestionable, and my enjoyment of The Sorcerer's Stone was vast. When I listened to the Chamber of Secrets, I was disappointed. Even with the new themes, it felt like a rehash. Everything seems almost too predictable, probably because of the use of instrumentation (or we know how John Williams writes). Between Stone and Azakaban, Chamber is the weakest entry in Harry Potter by John Williams.

4) King Arthur - Hans Zimmer

If you created a list of purely loud scores, this would rank comfortably in the top 20. I actually felt tired listening with all the drums pounding and rhythms moving but never really going anywhere meaningful. The few subtle moments there are offer some promise but not enough, and the psuedo Gladiator song isn't bad. The best cue by far is the 10 minute finale, after listening to 50 minutes of either pounding loud or unsatisfying quiet.

3) Up - Michael Giacchino

If I had a choice of either Ratatouille or Up being Giacchino's first Oscar win, I would without hesitation pick Ratatouille. It's more stylized and has alot more substance. The one cue that sold mostly everyone is "Married Life", but for me, beyond that the score didn't have as big an impact on me as Ratatouille. Up certainly does not deserve all the attention that it got; it's like awarding the most not undeserving score rather than the most deserving score.

2) Mission to Mars - Ennio Morricone

The first couple of cues are easy listening with the love theme, but there's no sense of important or significant in the music. The shrieking dissonance heard through most of the score is completely and bordering on the verge of un-listenable in parts. If there would have been a more consistent approach to the score, my rating would be different. However, for all these elements, Mission to Mars remains one of the most overrated scores of Ennio's career.

1) The Golden Compass - Alexandre Desplat

Never has a fantasy score (the average fantasy score has a certain warmth to it to invite the listener in) felt so cold to my ears. The score never draws attention to itself, you could be listening to it for an hour, working on the computer, and then you realize it's over. And that's a bit damning considering Desplat's efforts to address the vast thematic needs of the movie (coming up with 9 or so themes, but none of them are particularly memorable in their own right). It's ironic that the atmospheric bits are a bit more interesting than the full scale action bits. This is one score that's for the critics and deserved its ranking as the most overrated score of the 2000s.

Top Ten Underrated Scores of the 2000s:

10) The Visitor by Jan A.P. Kaczmarek

I was highly impressed with this score because of how well it keeps the music low key. The music is serene and peaceful, with the orchestrations being piano driven with small string orchestra (much like the Oscar winner Finding Neverland). Everything with how The Visitor is written is subtle and intelligent. The CD is certainly a very pleasant and consistent musical experience.

9) Couples Retreat by A.R. Rahman

This score is one of the most entertaining scores that I have heard in a while. There is a cool mix of three musical flavours, such as Hindu vocals, a Latin band, and a Western orchestra. The way the different cultural elements are put together and quite lovely, and they will pull you in with their vast enthusiasm. Think there`s no creativity in the bland film music world of 2009, try this!

8) World Trade Centre by Craig Armstrong

If you only know Craig Armstrong for his loud works, then you should probably try this score. Armstrong works in a simplistic but moving main theme which is utilized by all of the orchestra (including a lovely vocal cue). This score is very minimalist, with the brass is sparingly used. But in the end, it is an extremely poignant work and tribute to the tragic day that was 9,11,2001.

7) Lover,s Prayer by Joel McNeely

Perhaps it is not totally fair to say this score is underrated but rather unheralded. This score is for classical music appreciators. Joel McNeely finally pens a dramatic score that is not totally for some kiddie or simply loud movie. John Williams only pops up with vague influences here and there. I can say that this score would make Georges Delerue proud with its reflective manner.

6) Anacondas: Hunt for the Blood Orchid by Nerida Tyson-Chew

The creativity in how she made the sound layered and the atmosphere is created for making it feel like a jungle is very good. A vast wall of sound is created for the brutal horror parts with chopping strings, blaring brass and pounding percussion. Between the jungle atmospherics, the fast rhythms, and the orchestral depth, Nerida shows that only noise in horror is good.

5) Frost Nixon by Hans Zimmer

Given that the big score that year for Zimmer was The Dark Knight, it seems appropriate that Frost Nixon was largely forgotten (but largely outshines its rival). The refreshing thing about this score is that there are no themes, only constant and intelligent rhythms to move the score a sense of urgency and activity. This ranks in the top 5 of best Hans Zimmer scores of the 2000s.

4) The Time Machine by Klaus Badelt

On pure entertainment value alone, The Time Machine ranks as one of the best listens in that year with its two halves; one delightfully harmonic and multitudinous melodic, and the one wonderfully ethnic and more sinister. The originality police might have a problem with the main theme being close to The Edge, but the main theme that Badelt wrote is the better one, IMHO.

3) 9 by Deborah Lurie

Again, this score contains a small amount of theme and development. However, the attraction of this score is the modern and very dynamic action underscore and the dark pseudo apocalyptic material, with an emotional and uplifting finale cue. Deborah Lurie shows that she is a talent to be watched in the future. If you liked Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, maybe you should try this.

2) Wallace and Gromit: Curse of the Were Rabbit by Juilan Nott & Co

As I have said before, this score is EXTREMELY(!) entertaining and charming. It contains a multitude of themes including: the famous title theme, the Anti-Pesto fanfare, the love melody, the villain theme, Were-Rabbit motif, etc). The score also adds some tongue-in-cheek moments, a fair allotment of rip-roaring action music, and lastly bits of adventure and suspense underscore. If you liked Chicken Run, go for this one too.

1) All The Pretty Horses by Marty Stuart, Kristin Wilkinson, and Larry Paxton

Just because its modern does not mean it ignores the past. ATPH certainly does not forget its past with great homages to the classic western scores. The thematic material is somewhat simplistic as you might expect but with orchestral touches, the themes come alive. Much of the score is guitar driven with a subtle orchestral touch, but there are alot of moments to take delight in. There is also a mix of intelligent Mexican style into this score which works great. For its personality and consistent nature, All The Pretty Horses definitely deserves to be ranked as one of the best scores of the year and of the decade. It is one of my personal favourite scores ever.

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Haha, I thought this list looked really familiar, then I found it

http://www.filmscoremonthly.com/board/posts.cfm?threadID=67810&forumID=1&archive=0

Anyway, I don't think HP COS is over rated at all - most people 'round here seem to dislike it! I love it, though

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Haha, I thought this list looked really familiar, then I found it

It's to promote discussion, dear...

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Most of the scores on your underrated list are overrated.

If I wanted to market a cure for insomnia, Jan A.P. Kaczmarek's music would be the main ingredient.

Frankly most of the scores on the overrated list don't belong on there.

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COS and UP explanation is rather strange.

They maybe overrated, by their respective composer standards, but are not overrated taking the whole world of film scoring.

UP definately deserves what it got. Ratatouille was underrated, but that is not UP's fault...

Anyway, i must live in a different world, because if iever say a general opinion of COS is of underrating...

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All three Lord of the Rings scores strike me as VASTLY overrated, though I do have a fair amount of love for FOTR. I agree that The Time Machine is a lovely score that doesn't get much attention...COS is way overrated on JWFan, at least...

Of course, when you really think about it, the premise of a thread like this is kinda silly. Basically, we're working from the assumption that our own opinions and tastes are somehow absolutely correct, and if a bunch of people disagree, the score is either getting more or less love than it deserves. But silly premises are okay sometimes. :)

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All three Lord of the Rings scores strike me as VASTLY overrated, though I do have a fair amount of love for FOTR.

I used to think that. Fortunately I've seen the light. ;)

Any underrated list of the 2000s for me starts with AotC and RotS. AI too, it's not unfairly bashed all the time like the previous two but I don't think it gets appreciated for the wonderful work it is either. I'd say Star Trek and Roar (Cloverfield) are underrated too.

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All three Lord of the Rings scores strike me as VASTLY overrated, though I do have a fair amount of love for FOTR.

I used to think that. Fortunately I've seen the light. ;)

Conformist! :)

Any underrated list of the 2000s for me starts with AotC and RotS. AI too, it's not unfairly bashed all the time like the previous two but I don't think it gets appreciated for the wonderful work it is either. I'd say Star Trek and Roar (Cloverfield) are underrated too.

I agree, at least about the prequels and Star Trek. Though the latter did get quite a bit of love when it first came out, and the former are still going strong with nearly 100 pages in the official thread.

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The Oscars are nonsense when it comes to the scoring category. But as a nomination/win must be viewed as something of a top honor among film composers, my list based on the Academy nominations (or lack thereof) last decade would be something like:

Overrated:

-The Patriot (John Williams: 2000)

-Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events (Thomas Newman: 2004)

-Babel (Gustavo Santawhatever: 2006)

-Notes on a Scandal (Philip Glass: 2006)

-Michael Clayton (James Newton Howard: 2007)

-Slumdog Millionaire (A. R. Rahman: 2008)

-Milk (Danny Elfman: 2008)

-Avatar (James Horner: 2009)

-Fantastic Mr. Fox (Alexandre Desplat: 2009)

-Up (Michael Giacchino: 2009)

Underrated:

-Hollow Man (Jerry Goldsmith: 2000)

-Birth (Alexandre Desplat: 2003)

-The Incredibles (Michael Giacchino: 2004)

-The Brothers Grimm (Dario Marianelli: 2005)

-The Painted Veil (Alexandre Desplat: 2006)

-The Illusionist (Philip Glass: 2006)

-Lust, Caution (Alexandre Desplat: 2007)

-Drag Me to Hell (Christopher Young: 2009)

-A Single Man (Abel Korzeniowski: 2009)

-The Informant! (Marvin Hamlisch: 2009)

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Michael Clayton, Lemony Snicket, and Fantastic Mr. Fox are far from being overrated. They belong in the underrated category.

I'm just taking the postition that if an Oscar nomination is worth something in the film composing industry, then those scores are overrated. Fantastic Mr. Fox wasn't even Desplat's best score last year.

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Have you ever heard Benjamin Button, The Queen, The Painted Veil, or Lust,Caution? Saying Fantastic Mr. Fox is Desplat's "best score period" is like arguing that John Goldfarb, Please Come Home is the pinnacle of JW's composing career. My hat's off to you for boldness, but come on...

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If I wasn't on my 65th hour of celebrating Cinco de Mayo I'd summon up the strength to argue with you further, but... seriously...listen to them again.

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Here how I'd rank my Desplat collection:

1. Curious Case of Benjamin Button - fantastic, absolutely gorgeous

2. Fantastic Mr. Fox - wonderfully unique, it really captures the spirit of the film

3. Golden Compass - first half is really good, really unique stuff...second half is just loud and mindless

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I like NEW MOON more than FANTASTIC MR. FOX. I'm sure it works well with the film, but it didn't have much effect on me (neither did the hipster song choices).

I need to get more Desplat, but THE QUEEN is brilliant.

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The problem with these lists is that there are based on two things: your opinion of a score and everybody else's opinion. For instance, I don't think PotC is anywhere close to being the best of the decade, but I do think it has a shot at being the most underrated just because people here hate it with such a passion. Then compare that to something like AotC, which I think is a very very good score. I consider it to be better than PotC, but then most people here consider it to be better than PotC even though they still, IMO, underrate it. At that point, I'm not sure how to rank PotC and AotC because the former is moderately enjoyed by me and hated by everyone else, but the latter is greatly enjoyed by me and moderately enjoyed by everyone else.

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People resent POTC because it was could have been a memorable Silvestri classic, instead it became an aesthetically flat sounding MV compilation.

No, I resent it because that style of film scoring became the norm ,hence we have nothing to look forward to that's listenable anymore. There was an age when movies like Clash of the Titans, Robin Hood, Iron Man meant were were going to get great new scores ,now were always getting variations of the same crap. Maybe that's why were accepting a slightly above average score from Horner for Avatar as some kind of god send

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I think it's overrated because it gets a lot of love IRL, in the mainstream world which I don't think it deserves, but it gets the attention (in the same way as GLADIATOR did and the original STAR WARS, although those are both much better scores).

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Not sure what is meant by "under", or "over" rated, but the scores which interested me in the last decade were:

"Traffic"-Clif Martinez,

"Solaris"-Cliff Martinez,

"Master And Commander",

"The Matrix" Trilogy-Don Davies,

"Freda"-Elliot Goldenthal,

"Hollow Man"-Jerry Goldsmith ("Isobel Comes Back" is brilliant!),

"A.I."/"Minority Report"/"War Of The Worlds" (do I really have to state who these are by...?).

Anything that I don't like, I simply don't listen to. I don't have time for "overrated music", I only make time for "my music".

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People resent POTC because it was could have been a memorable Silvestri classic, instead it became an aesthetically flat sounding MV compilation.

No, I resent it because that style of film scoring became the norm ,hence we have nothing to look forward to that's listenable anymore. There was an age when movies like Clash of the Titans, Robin Hood, Iron Man meant were were going to get great new scores ,now were always getting variations of the same crap. Maybe that's why were accepting a slightly above average score from Horner for Avatar as some kind of god send

That too.

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-Hollow Man (Jerry Goldsmith: 2000)

One of the best examples of "underrated" for me: Perhaps the last great score by one of the greatest film composers, but most people who like Goldsmith seem to have dismissed it as merely ok, at least at the time it came out.

-The Brothers Grimm (Dario Marianelli: 2005)

Very good score, although it tends to get a bit much and drag as a result. But the highlights are cool. (It seems to borrow a theme from Hollow Man, too). I wouldn't call it underrated though - it's rarely mentioned these days, but when it is, I think the comments are usually favourable.

-Drag Me to Hell (Christopher Young: 2009)

Didn't everyone rave about this when it was released? It's a solid score, and I like the first and last tracks a lot, but overall it wasn't too memorable for me. Not on the same level as the awesome Species, I think.

"The Matrix" Trilogy-Don Davies

The first is one of the best film scores of its time (although having since discovered John Adams and more recently Aaron J. Kernis, I realise it's not as original as I used to think). The 2nd adds the best blend of techno/electronic music and orchestra I've heard. The third is still good, but a bit too generic for my tastes. A bit like run-of-the-mill Horner, if less derivative.

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In my current score tastes, my list of overrated scores of the decade could easily turn into a 'which Williams scores do I now find boring and old school?' list.

I'll try not to do that, but here are a few (almost guaranteed to be highly controversial):

  • Up - outside Ellie's theme, I just can't get into this score at all. I love "The Ellie Badge", but the middle and final 'battle' portions of the score lose me completely. I still think Giacchino deserved his oscar because other material I've heard from him wipes the floor of other composers.
  • Creation - some people are calling this Young's The Village, but I'm afraid that where JNH's score grips me, Young's frankly bores me. There seemed to be long stretches where not much happened, and a few times the bass (or whatever it is) nearly blew up my speakers.

  • Drag Me to Hell - I love the main theme, but the more dissonant tracks do nothing for me. This score has none of the subtleties of Species, a score I love to bits.
  • Munich - holy hell does this one bore me. The main theme is excellent, but most of the underscore could easily send me to sleep. It doesn't help of course that the film is among my least favourite Spielberg movies ever.

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