2016 Oscars Challenge: [13] “Carol” – Best Original Score

CAROL
Cartel Burwell



At its core, and as described in the Adapted Screenplay category as well, “Carol” is a love story. So Carter Burwell’s main drive in composing the score for “Carol” was to highlight those moments of discovering love, exploring the characters feelings for one another, and ultimately the characters acting on those feelings, all while trying to use of instruments relevant to the time period, like the oboe, the clarinet, and the vibraphone. As it seems with most categories, the sheer detail and thought that goes into each element of a film is baffling and although one should probably expect that this kind of attention to detail goes into every film, it’s another thing to actually hear the composers, costume designers, and writers actually discussing it. Hearing Carter describe the process of matching instruments to characters and playing with themes within the music that also exist in the film is quite ingenious. When Carol and Therese are first getting to know each other, the oboe and clarinet are separated in the score, but as the characters grow closer together, the instruments weave in and other of one another. Director Todd Haynes was Carter’s sounding board for most of these ideas and would often tell Carter to push music in parts, especially the love making scene between the women, telling him to “push it” and “drive the scene more.” There’s calmness to Carter’s score that even pushes the unsettling and mysterious nature of the film, helping to bring out the emotions, especially in the moments where dialogue is sparse.

What’s its competition? Personally, I see John Williams and his score for “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” as the biggest threat here, but the pundits are leaning towards Ennio Morricone‘s score for “The Hateful Eight.” Even so, neither of those are Carter Burwell’s score for “Carol,” however, I would put it as a close second to both of those, landing it somewhere in the middle. The difference between both of those films’ scores and the one for “Carol” is that they exist at a different spectrum of film. Both Williams and Morricone have epic, sweeping scores that fit the nature of their respected films. They flourish to a higher degree and do a little bit more heavy lifting in building suspense and tension. “Carol,” on the other hand, is more understated, and despite those sparse dialogue scenes, mostly goes unnoticed, not because it’s not good, but because it weaves itself into the storytelling. That being said, it comes down to subjectivity at this point. I’ll likely be pulling for John Williams until the end.

Previous nominations? This is the first Academy Award nomination for Carter Burwell.


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// Produced by Elizabeth Karlsen, Stephen Woolley, and Christine Vachon //Directed by Todd Haynes //
// Dated Viewed: Saturday, January 23rd, 2016 // LAEMMLE NOHO //  29 films – 37 days //

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