Thursday, December 14, 2006

Oscars 07: And all of Italy mutters, 'What took you so long?'

Ennio Morricone, the greatest living composer of movie scores (and the only reason you cry at the end of Cinema Paradiso), will receive an Oops-We're-Idiots Oscar from the Academy at the ceremony in February. As a primer, I recommend the album Cinema Concerto at Santa Cecilia, from a live 1998 concert directed by the man himself. It features his best work: Paradiso, of course, plus the epic choral boomings of The Mission (the only piece of music in existence that'll make you consider martyrdom) and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (your neck hairs will bristle). My favorite, though, is his quiet score for Bugsy, which is so rich it clogs your blood vessels with sweet melancholy. Surely there will be a medley of his scores performed during the ceremony. They must get a chorus. Done correctly, this tribute could be a showstopper.

Watch, listen and wonder why he never won a competitive Oscar: "Gabriel's Oboe" from The Mission. "The Ecstasy of Gold" from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Theme from Cinema Paradiso. The Untouchables. Days of Heaven.


michael said...

Glad to hear he's getting a bit of recognition. I've just gotten into his music this year and he's one of the few movie score composers I can listen to without having to watch the movie at the same time.

Middento said...

Poor Morricone. You do realize that, unless he stands very close to Peter O'Toole during the broadcast, the aura of this award will kill him within the year.

I was about to berate your hyperbolic claim of his greatness, until I thought about living composers. And while I think that there have certainly been as-good-if-not-better composers before him (I think of Elmer Bernstein, Bernard Herrmann and, on a different level entirely, Carl Stalling), I think you're right about Morricone being long overdue for recognition, given that he is one of the greats. Your hyperbole may indeed be warranted.

That said, I'm still rooting for Clint Mansell to make it to the Big Dance in this category this year.

Beedow said...

Ah! One of my favorite albums for those contemplative evenings by the fire with a glass of shiraz in an expensive crystal goblet, a porcelain platter of delicacies, and your lover's hand clasped in ecstasy is the 21 track, 2004 release: YO YO MA PLAYS ENNIO MORRICONE.

J.J. said...

Middento: I don't want to get in a discussion about which film composer is better, but suffice to say I think Morricone is the most accomplished film composer, living or dead. Bernstein and Herrmann are sublime -- the first for The Magnificent Seven and Far from Heaven, the second for Vertigo and Taxi Driver -- but in terms of a sweeping, symphonic body of work that stands on its own as well as elevates its movies, Morricone wins handily (and he has more musical credits than the other two men combined). Granted, most of his scores were written for Italian films, many of which go unseen in America and are therefore less remembered and iconic. Suffice to say I am happy that AMPAS is extending an invitation across the Atlantic.