For a long time now, James Newton Howard has been cranking out good film scores, often three or four in a single year. At the Oscars, he's been nominated six times for best score but has never won. Unfortunately for Howard, and for us, there is no correlation between the quality of a film and the quality of its score. A good score always makes a good movie better, but nothing can save a bad movie. And Howard, who appears to be rather undiscriminating, has scored some real clunkers, like M. Night Shyamalan's The Village.
On the other hand, he has scored some terrific movies like Lawrence Kasdan's Mumford which few people have seen. He has scored most of Kasdan's movies. (Lawrence Kasdan = Good, M. Night Shymalan = Bad).
Nonetheless, the quality of Howard's work is consistently high, so let's listen to some of it today. Here's the playlist.
- Gravel Road — from Howard's Oscar-nominated score for The Village
- More Greatest Hits — a nice follow-up to Howard's Greatest Hits, a compilation which I found on youtube
- 25 Dollars Worth — from the score to Michael Clayton, starring George Clooney
- music for I Am Legend — unfortunately, most of this music was left out of the movie, which featured the charismatic Will Smith
- Defiance theme — for the 2009 movie. Howard was nominated for an Oscar for this one, too. Violin solo by Joshua Bell.