The ten best scores by Alexandre Desplat
Tonight, I decided to watch Lust, Caution for the first time since I purchased it. The superb winner of the top prize at Venice certainly holds up with repeated viewings, still managing to be as seductive, complex and engrossing as your first experience.
However, one thing I’d failed to realise up until tonight was just how under-appreciated the score by Alexandre Desplat truly is.
A composer who, to my mind, is the finest working in the industry today, Desplat’s CV boasts the likes of Harry Potter, The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button and The King’s Speech. With each new job, he brings something entirely unique to the table but is still able to blend in a flavour that makes the music distinctly is his own. As a result, his work constantly stands out in a movie. Sometimes, it even overshadows everything that is placed on top of it.
Desplat’s ability to complement an emotion, mood or theme no matter how complex is unmatchable by any other composer today and – in contrast to the likes of Hans Zimmer – he’s not a man afraid of using one or two simple instruments to his music’s story.
His work on The Ides Of March can be heard in theatres across the US right now and in the UK very soon while his music for Roman Polanski’s Carnage will also be showcased before the year’s end. On top of that, the scores for both Harry Potter and The Tree Of Life earlier in 2011 are likely to see the Frenchman up for some more Oscar nominations in the coming months.
Therefore, it only seems right to pay tribute to Alexandre Desplat by listing his ten most powerful works so far in his two decade career.
10) The Twilight Saga: New Moon
I never imagined Twilight would ever make its way into any of my top ten lists, but such is the power of Alexandre Desplat, I suppose. The film remains as cold and emotionless as always, but Desplat’s score is the sole factor that injects some romantic yearning into the affair. After all, it’s an achingly moving collection of music, regardless of what your thoughts on the franchise are.
09) The Tree Of Life
An effortless blend of powerful and subtle, the score for The Tree Of Life is one that manages to capture both the small scale of Terrence Malick’s family drama with the epic scope of his evolution sub-plot.
08) A Better Life
Hints of Mexican music alongside the jazz influenced blasts of a classic L.A. noir score perfectly place you in the world of A Better Life.
07) The Ghost Writer
There’s something incredibly old-fashioned in Desplat’s score for this Roman Polanski political thriller. In a way, it almost echoes the 1960s spy movies like James Bond in its prominent use of woodwind and brass instruments. As a result, the music brilliantly sucks you into this old-school political mystery story.
06) The King’s Speech
As well as integrating classical music, the Oscar nominated score for The King’s Speech was certainly one of 2010’s most joyful and uplifting compilations of music.
05) Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows
Harry Potter took a dark turn after the end of The Half-Blood Prince with the death of Dumbledore. So, with the wizarding world descending into the gothic, Desplat’s score for the blockbuster picture was excellently suspenseful and foreboding.
04) A Prophet
Capturing A Prophet’s hybrid of the gritty, the beautiful and the surreal was never going to be an easy task for its composer, but nonetheless this elegant piece of music provides the perfect complement to Audiard’s masterpiece.
03) The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button
Say what you want about Benjamin Button, but when it set its mind on moving the audience, it did so spectacularly. This subtle yet beautiful score – another Oscar nominated piece from Alexandre Desplat – went a long way in providing this.
02) Lust, Caution
Ah, the piece of music that started this list. You’ll hum it all night, but the score never loosens that sense of emotional foreboding on you for even a split second.
01) The Fantastic Mr. Fox
Whimsical, touching and bright, Desplat shows his versatility by creating a score that is incredibly far out of his comfort zone yet no less incredible for Wes Anderson’s The Fantastic Mr Fox.