Video Game Music

  • 2016 IFMCA Awards Announced

    The International Film Music Critics Association (IFMCA) announces its list of winners for excellence in musical scoring in 2016, in the 2016 IFMCA Awards.

    The award for Score of the Year goes to Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhannsson for his work on the critically acclaimed science fiction drama “Arrival,” directed by Denis Villeneuve, starring Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner. IFMCA member Jon Broxton said that “Jóhannsson’s approach to solving the film’s musical problems [is] absolutely fascinating, and the way he was able to musically convey some of the film’s more challenging cerebral ideas involving language and communication is astonishingly accomplished,” while IFMCA member Daniel Schweiger said that Jóhannsson “brilliantly captures both a sense of wonder and fear with beholding the mind-boggling, verbally-scrambled unknown, as whale cry motifs join with alternately moaning and chattering voices, backed by a strong orchestral sound that serves as a powerful universal musical translator in a way that’s both harmonically understandable, and profoundly strange.” This is the first IFMCA Award win of Jóhannsson’s career, him having previously been nominated for Best Original Score for a Drama Film for “The Theory of Everything” in 2014.

    Composer Michael Giacchino is named Composer of the Year for the second year in a row, having written four outstanding works spanning multiple genres in the past year. His work in 2016 included the action-packed Marvel comic book fantasy film “Doctor Strange,” the socially aware Disney animated film “Zootopia,” the third installment of the rebooted Star Trek franchise “Star Trek Beyond,” and the score for the first of the Star Wars spinoff films, “Rogue One”. IFMCA member James Southall called “Rogue One” “a very impressive achievement indeed,” while IFMCA member Christian Clemmensen described “Doctor Strange” as “a mystical, optimistic, and smart superhero score with an alluring primary identity and generally excellent combination of electronic and ethnic accents with standard orchestral and choral elements.” This marks the fourth time Giacchino has been named Composer of the Year, following his previous wins in 2004, 2009, and 2015.

    Composer Justin Hurwitz won three awards – Breakthrough Composer of the Year, Best Original Score for a Comedy Film, and Film Music Composition of the Year – all for his work on the massively popular and critically acclaimed musical comedy-drama “La La Land” directed by Damian Chazelle, starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone. “La La Land” is only the second full theatrical score of Hurwitz’s career, and for it he wrote a jazz-inspired orchestral score, and half a dozen original songs (with songwriters Benj Pasek and Justin Paul), the melodies of which flow through the majority of the underscore. IFMCA member Mihnea Manduteanu called “La La Land” “delightful and playful” and claimed that it captures “what it means to fall in love, to play, to dream,” while IFMCA member Jon Broxton heralded the score as “a masterpiece”.

    The various other genre awards are won by Abel Korzeniowski for his music for the darkly stylish revenge drama “Nocturnal Animals”; Christopher Young for his wildly exciting action score for the Chinese historical adventure “Xi You Ji Zhi: Sun Wukong San Da Baigu Jing [The Monkey King 2]”; James Newton Howard for his score for lush and whimsical fantasy score for the Harry Potter prequel “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”; Laurent Perez del Mar for his evocative, emotional music for the French animated film “La Tortue Rouge [The Red Turtle]”; and Panu Aaltio for his wonderful music for the Finnish nature documentary “Järven Tarina [Tale of a Lake]”.

    In the non-film categories, composer Ramin Djawadi wins the award for Best Original Score for a Television Series for his magnificent work on the sixth series of the critically acclaimed HBO fantasy drama “Game of Thrones,” while composer Austin Wintory wins the award for Best Original Score for a Video Game or Interactive Media for the second year in a row, this time for his work on the meditative, dream-like undersea adventure game “Abzû”.

    Oakland, California-based Intrada Records is named Film Music Record Label of the Year in recognition of their ongoing excellence in restoring and releasing the most beloved film scores of the past. They were also honored with the award for Best New Archival Release - Re-Release or Re-Recording of an Existing Score for their lavish expanded release of Elmer Bernstein’s classic 1956 score “The Ten Commandments,” which IFMCA member Craig Lysy described as “one of the finest [scores] ever written and a glorious example of Golden Age film scores”. Finally, Burbank, California-based La La Land Record and producer Mike Matessino wins the award for Best New Archival Release – Compilation for their superb re-mastered release of “The John Williams Jurassic Park Collection”, a compilation of the timeless 1990s dinosaur adventure scores “Jurassic Park” and “The Lost World”.

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    COMPLETE LIST OF WINNERS

    FILM SCORE OF THE YEAR
    •    Arrival, music by Jóhann Jóhannsson

    COMPOSER OF THE YEAR
    •    Michael Giacchino

    BREAKTHROUGH COMPOSER OF THE YEAR
    •    Justin Hurwitz

    FILM MUSIC COMPOSITION OF THE YEAR
    •     “Epilogue” from La La Land, music by Justin Hurwitz

    BEST ORIGINAL SCORE FOR A DRAMA FILM
    •    Nocturnal Animals, music by Abel Korzeniowski

    BEST ORIGINAL SCORE FOR A COMEDY FILM
    •    La La Land, music by Justin Hurwitz

    BEST ORIGINAL SCORE FOR AN ACTION/ADVENTURE/THRILLER FILM
    •    Xi You Ji Zhi: Sun Wukong San Da Baigu Jing [The Monkey King 2], music by Christopher Young

    BEST ORIGINAL SCORE FOR A FANTASY/SCIENCE FICTION/HORROR FILM
    •    Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, music by James Newton Howard

    BEST ORIGINAL SCORE FOR AN ANIMATED FEATURE
    •    La Tortue Rouge [The Red Turtle], music by Laurent Perez del Mar

    BEST ORIGINAL SCORE FOR A DOCUMENTARY
    •    Järven Tarina [Tale of a Lake], music by Panu Aaltio

    BEST ORIGINAL SCORE FOR A TELEVISION SERIES
    •    Game of Thrones, music by Ramin Djawadi

    BEST ORIGINAL SCORE FOR A VIDEO GAME OR INTERACTIVE MEDIA
    •    Abzû, music by Austin Wintory

    BEST NEW ARCHIVAL RELEASE - RE-RELEASE OR RE-RECORDING OF AN EXISTING SCORE
    •    The Ten Commandments, music by Elmer Bernstein; album produced by Douglass Fake and Roger Feigelson; liner notes by Frank K. De Wald; album art direction by Joe Sikoryak (Intrada)

    BEST NEW ARCHIVAL RELEASE - COMPILATION
    •    The John Williams Jurassic Park Collection, music by John Williams; album produced by Mike Matessino; liner notes by Mike Matessino; album art direction by Jim Titus (La-La Land)

    FILM MUSIC RECORD LABEL OF THE YEAR
    •    Intrada Records, Douglass Fake, Roger Feigelson

  • Preview: Call of Champions

     

     

    Over the years, Cinemusical has been privileged to receive a lot of new music from the film and video game industry.  It has been wonderful to see how many composer’s work has continued to flourish and grow.  In the case of composer Winifred Philips, it has been an honor to hear her music for a number of video game projects over the years going back to when she was working on things like SimAnimals.  Philips has been slowly carving out a name for herself in the field.  Her essential book, A Composer’s Guide to Game Music, should be required reading.

    What has been more exciting though, is to watch the types of projects that she has been working on move from lighter to more serious gaming fare.  Most impressive was her work on Assassin’s Creed: Liberation.  The mix of ambient and ethnic musical sounds worked well there alongside her often sensitive thematic writing.

    Her latest project, Call of Champions  is a multi-player mobile gaming experience now available from Spacetime Studios.  Philips has posted three selections from the score on her blog:  https://winifredphillips.wordpress.com/2015/11/18/call-of-champions-2/.   Her work on mobile games will be part of an upcoming presentation at the 2016 Game Developer’s Conference.

    The theme has a great heroic idea with a bit of martial undercurrent.  But what is most interesting is the harmonic shifts that occur within music that is at once recognizable for the genre but still unique musically.  She ramps up the energy for “Battle Arena” which has a great sense of energy with electric guitar adding a modern flare to the music coupled with a thematic idea.  The soaring string line works quite well against the sequencing percussion that drives things forward.  As one would expect, while some of the gestures are perfectly in line with action music, it is the thematic writing that helps lift the music above the norm in this exciting action cue that would be perfectly at home in a big screen adventure.  This is further explored with more rock styles appropriately in “Game Time”.

    In these three musical excerpts from the Call of Champions score, one can hear both some of Philips’ thematic and harmonic writing that is always engaging, along with some contemporary rock ideas that are a perfect match for the game play.  This is another great example of how Philips shapes her own style to help fit the project she is working on so well.