The winners are in, and they’re Ennio Morricone (for his Hateful Eight score) and Sam Smith and Jimmy Napes (for their Spectre song, “Writing’s on the Wall”). It’s only the second time in Oscar history that a 007 song has won Oscar gold (the last, of course, was “Skyfall,” from the previous Bond film) and their victory must be deemed a surprise. I chronicle the entire weekend’s music events here — including the musical ups and downs of the broadcast, Saturday’s SCL Oscar music reception, and Friday’s Hollywood Walk of Fame honors. Anticipating Morricone’s Oscar win, I wrote a second story for Variety about the Italian maestro that enabled me to use more of our February interview.
My editor at Variety came up with an interesting angle, and one especially relevant in today’s world of sequels, spinoffs and reboots: what’s the role of music, and how do composers decide when and where to apply themes from previous films or TV shows? For this final story in our pre-nominations Oscar-music series, I received fascinating answers from John Williams (Star Wars: The Force Awakens), Thomas Newman (Spectre), Michael Giacchino (Jurassic World), Christophe Beck (The Peanuts Movie), Ludwig Goransson (Creed) and Joe Kraemer (Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation).
For Variety‘s second installment in our series on potential Oscar nominees in the music categories, I interviewed five composers, seven songwriters, a music supervisor and a director. Our main story features John Williams, in his first interview offering details of his new Star Wars score, as well as Hateful Eight music supervisor Mary Ramos talking about Ennio Morricone’s music; and The 33 director Patricia Riggen discussing the late James Horner’s contributions to her film. I also wrote four of the six composer profiles (on Thomas Newman, Michael Giacchino, Carter Burwell and Brian Tyler) and half of the song story (including interviews with Spectre singer-songwriter Sam Smith and The Hunting Ground songwriters Diane Warren and Lady Gaga). And there’s still more to come!
The new James Bond film Spectre is out, and I was privileged to interview Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Sam Smith and his writing partner Jimmy Napes Wednesday night after a Society of Composers & Lyricists screening at The Grove. The guys were informative and entertaining, using terms like “expensive chords” that the composer/songwriter crowd loved. The song, which plays well with the lavish and beautiful title sequence — and can be best appreciated once you’ve seen the film and understand its context — has already hit no. 1 in the UK, the first Bond theme in history to do so.