I was first introduced to through his work in American Beauty. He had done several films leading up to American Beauty, which gained him an Oscar nod, but it was something about American Beauty that painted such an amazing picture of dysfunctional American life that it ,for the lack of a better term, scarred me (in a good way). For me it seemed like everything else he’d done was a precursor to American Beauty (not to downplay his body of work). It’s just how I feel and thus began my love affair with his music. Perhaps it was his partnership with director Sam Mendes (American Beauty,Revolutionary Road, Road To Perdition) that brought about what I consider a new level or maybe it was Thomas Newman’s love for movies with the word “road” in the titles. Whatever the case maybe his haunting, sad and whimsical tracks have become apart of some of the most amazing films ever made. WARNING: I’m not a composer so throughout this post I will be using terms that sound more like I’m describing a painting than music. He projects a certain subtlety is his compositions that make you empathize with the characters. He has a way of creating a characters soundtrack and then making it relevant to the time or place the story is set in. Whether it be a lonely thumb drum or sweeping violins, Thomas Newman wields his weapons with marksman precision, usually resulting in a shit load of tissues. It’s as if this was what he was born to do and I say this knowing full well that he comes from a serious line of well established musician’s.
The following comes via About.com:
Thomas Newman comes from an extremely musical family. His father, Alfred Newman, composed the scores for the Battle of Midway, My Friend Flicka, Song of Bernadette, Gentleman’s Agreement, All About Eve, and The Robe. His brother, David Newman, composed the music for Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, The Cat in the Hat, Galaxy Quest and Ice Age. His uncle, Lionel Newman, won an Academy Awardfor his scoring of 1969’s Hello, Dolly! His cousin, Randy Newman, composed the score for Monster’s Ink.
It has been said that you don’t choose books, books choose you. It’s my belief that that same analogy can be applied to life in general especially when it comes to art. Thomas Newman’s body of work reads like an epic tale of some tragic hero. So diverse is his catalog that one might asked him or herself “what’s next for this man?” My guess is everything.
WALL-E,Lemoney Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events,Finding Nemo,The Road to Perdition,Erin Brockovich,American Beauty, Meet Joe Black,The Green Mile,The Horse Whisperer,Oscar and Lucinda,Phenomenon,The People vs. Larry Flint,Up Close and Personal,Unstrung Heroes,How to Make and American Quilt,Little Women,The Shawshank Redemption,The Player,Scent of a Women,Fried Green Tomatoes,The Great Outdoors,The Lost Boys,Jumpin’ Jack Flash,Girls Just Want to Have Fun,Desperately Seeking Susan,Reckless
You would think with that many films he would have won an Academy Award by now, but the Academy, staying with their practice of never giving credit til your 100 years old, still overlooks Thomas Newman despite being nominated over ten times for the Academy Award. According to Wikipedia Thomas Newman stands as the most nominated living composer to have never won an Oscar behind Alex North, who received 14 unsuccessful nominations. He’s basically the Gary Oldman/Tom Cruise/Leonardo DiCaprio of the film industry. Heavy lies the crown. This hasn’t stopped Thomas Newman from doing what he does best and most importantly it hasn’t stopped Hollywood from coming to him for work they can count on. Thomas is currently at work on the latest Bond film Skyfall directed by none other than good friend Sam Mendes. I implore you to check out some of his work you wont be disappointed.