What The Film Music of 2015 Will Sound Like

By  · Published on January 9th, 2015



The start of a new year is the start of new possibilities. As we reflect back on the past year (which we did pretty thoroughly), we also look forward to the year still stretched out in front of us and, in the case of us cinephiles, all the different films that year looks to bring.

You never know what surprises await – and that is part of the fun.

Who knew the 1970s music filling last year’s Guardians of the Galaxy would end up being a hit that had us falling in love with that decade all over again? (A decade re-introduced to us through a superhero movie, no less.) It was clear that Jake Gyllenhaal made a striking physical transformation for his role in Nightcrawler, but it wasn’t until we heard the slick electronica from James Newton Howard that his performance really took shape and we got to hear a whole new side of the composer. We knew Whiplash would give us a solid beat through a drum driven score (and film), but who saw the primarily percussion score from Antonio Sanchez for Birdman coming?

We may know a good number of the films set to come out this year (and we’re looking forward to a bunch of them!) and we may know who is going to be providing the music for them, but until we actually hear that music along with picture, it’s anyone’s game. However that doesn’t mean we can’t make a few predictions based on what we do know and the trends that have emerged from years past.

2013 was filled with films that peeled back the curtain on certain music genres and time periods with films like Inside Llewyn Davis, Sound City, and Saving Mr. Banks. Talented composers like Cliff Martinez, Clint Mansell, and David Wingo were working at the top of their game on films like Only God Forgives, Stoker, and Mud. We got some solid soundtracks from The Great Gatsby and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, but it was the soundtrack for About Time that brought back the idea of a soundtrack full of songs truly featured in a film.

This look into the past and classic soundtracks starting to peek through led to a more defined musical landscape in 2014 that featured the official return of the traditional soundtrack and composers working outside of the box. Soundtracks for Guardians, Boyhood, and Begin Again were some of the year’s best and scores were changing the rules by focusing on a single instrument or including lyrics (like Son Lux did with The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby).

So what will 2015 hold?

Much like 2013, this year looks to have some expected names creating the music for films. John Williams created the iconic Star Wars theme so it is no surprise he will be returning as the composer for the latest installment in the series with Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens. Jeff Nichols worked with Wingo on the music for Mud and last year’s Joe and the duo will be teaming up once again this year for Midnight Special. And long time Disney collaborator (Up, Ratatouille, John Carter) Michael Giacchino will be continuing that streak with his score for Tomorrowland.

But in a surprising move, Giacchino will also be replacing Williams as the composer for Jurassic World. Williams created the franchise’s iconic theme which is also featured (in a much more stripped down version) in the Jurassic World’s trailer so it will be interesting to see if (or how) Giacchino pulls from these past influences and what new ideas he may introduce to the series.

Neill Blomkamp is usually known for working with new names when it comes to the music on his films (like Clinton Shorter with District 9 and Elysium composer Ryan Amon who Bloomkamp found on YouTube), but Bloomkamp is turning to composing juggernaut Hans Zimmer for the music for Chappie. Zimmer definitely got some experience composing for the future with last year’s Interstellar, which combined science fiction with emotion, but hopefully Zimmer will push himself further outside of his comfort zone (and brraaaghggghhss) and give us something new for this story of a robot that is also able to think and feel.

2014 gave us some fantastic soundtracks and this year looks to keep that trend going with soundtrack master, Cameron Crowe, back in the mix with his newest film (currently titled Untitled Cameron Crowe Hawaii Project). Crowe turned to Sigur Rós’ Jónsi as the sole musical influence behind We Bought A Zoo, but his last feature film before that, Elizabethtown, had a pretty killer soundtrack and with no composer attached to his latest film we are hoping Crowe will deliver another must have soundtrack for our collections.

Last year’s Into The Woods and Begin Again proved people still like to sing along with movies and we should be getting a whole new brand of acapella catchiness with the soundtrack for Pitch Perfect 2. (Maybe even a new single from Anna Kendrick to rival “Cups”?) Richard Linklater’s Boyhood was one of last year’s best soundtracks and his “spiritual prequel” to Dazed and Confused (which also had a pretty sweet soundtrack), That’s What I’m Talking About, should deliver another a compilation that captures the true essence of the1980s.

Longtime Trent Reznor composing partner, Atticus Ross, will find himself teaming up with a new collaborator this year, Harry Gregson-Williams, for Blackhat. We are used to hearing Ross with Reznor together and their similar electronic approach to music playing off each other, but Gregson-Williams is more known for his classical approach to scoring so the combination of him with Ross should prove intriguing. (And we won’t have to wait long seeing as Blackhat hits theaters next weekend.)

The biggest wildcard this year (and the one we are most excited about) is the possible return of Nick Cave as the composer for John Hillcoat’s Triple Nine. Cave has not composed since his last collaboration with Hillcoat on Lawless and we are excited at the mere prospect of what we will see/hear if the two partner up again this year.

2015 is shaping up to be another solid year in film music, but the best part is not knowing what gems may emerge and end up in the number one spot come December. Will a well-known composer make an unexpected turn? Will a new comer break through the pack? Will soundtracks officially be back in rotation? Time will tell, but the one thing we know for sure is we will spending this year with our ears wide open.