Tag Archives: WALL-E

Sigourney Weaver’s 10 Best Movies

sigourney-weaver-jake-chessum-varietySigourney Weaver has the best resume of any actress in the science fiction genre (including impressive turns in the Aliens franchise, Galaxy Quest, The Cabin in the Woods, Avatar) in addition to being one of the best dramatic and comedic actresses in Hollywood for three decades.  She is THE template for a female action star for her work in Alien and Aliens, and she’s done some very covert work as a voice actor in two of Pixar’s gems (WALL-E and Finding Dory…ok, not so covert in Finding Dory).  Her body of work is even more impressive than I realized when I began putting her list together and was forced to leave off things like Gorillas in the Mist or The Year of Living Dangerously that would easily make most actresses’ lists.
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Supercut: Robots in Film (From Metropolis to WALL-E!)

Michael Mirasol has created this great supercut montage devoted to robots through the history of film. From Metropolis, The Day the Earth Stood Still and classic science fiction all the way to WALL-E, The Iron Giant and Pacific Rim, we get a very cool look at the classic robots in cinema. Appropriate on a weekend dominated by Transformers at the box office.

Thomas Newman’s Latest 10 Movies vs. Greatest 10 Movies

Thomas Newman
Latest vs. Greatest looks at directors, actors, actresses, screenwriters and composers to assess the state of their career as it stands.  We’ll look back at the latest 10 movies the artist has done, rate them and then average them out to see where they stand today.  We’ll also rank their 10 greatest movies and give them the same treatment to compare what they have been doing to their very best work.  (A quick side-note: if an artist is/has been a regular on a TV show we’ll also grade the seasons individually; artists need 10 projects to qualify).

The Shawshank Redemption, Tim Robbins

Thomas Newman is the second composer we’ve looked at in this column and he has the “honor” of following John Williams who scored a perfect career 10.00.  This is no knock on Newman.  He has a style of his own and has been scoring some of the cinema’s most memorable films for the last thirty years.

Scent of a Woman, Al Pacino, Chris O'Donnell

Unlike Williams, Newman has a very distinctive style to most of his work.  Not being a music professional, don’t kill me if I’m not describing it correctly, but he uses staccato string work to distinctive effect in his best scores: Finding Nemo, WALL-E, Road to Perdition, Saving Mr. Banks, etc.  It’s a signature style.  He may be the only composer I can recognize within ten seconds of screen time as the movie’s scorer.

Finding Nemo, Dory, Marlin, Albert Brooks, Ellen Degeneres

The danger with having that kind of signature style is repetition and self-plagiarism.  James Horner had a signature style and he’s been self-plagiarizing his old work for most of the last fifteen years.  Newman, though, seems to relish in opportunities to experiment and expand his chosen path and since he just picked up a well-deserved Oscar nomination for Saving Mr. Banks, I would say it is an experiment that is still working very well.

Wall-E

In talking about John Williams, we talked about composers being attached to particular directors, much as the classical composers had patrons for which they did their work.  Newman is most tightly associated with Frank Darabont, Andrew Stanton and Sam Mendes.  His work on Mendes films has such an effect on the films that I cannot imagine Road to Perdition without his haunting  and beautiful music underscoring scenes of horror in falling rain.

Tom Hanks, Michael Sullivan, Road to Perdition

Behind Hans Zimmer and the MAESTRO (John Williams official KT honorific), Newman is my favorite contemporary composer (when Howard Shore is not making a Middle-earth film).  Let’s look at the last ten films he’s scored.
NEWMAN’S LATEST TEN:
1. Saving Mr. Banks (2013)…………………..9.00
2. Side Effects (2013)……………………………..5.50
3. Skyfall (2012)……………………………………….9.50
4. The Iron Lady (2011)………………………….6.75
5. Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2011)..7.25
6. The Help (2011)……………………………………7.50
7. The Adjustment Bureau (2011)……….9.25
8. The Debt (2010)……………………………………8.00
9. Brothers (2009)…………………………………….6.00
10. WALL-E (2008)………………………………….10.00
NEWMAN’S CURRENT AVERAGE: 7.875

Tom Hanks, Emma Thompson, Saving Mr. Banks

A very solid current score (higher, actually, than John Williams).  Any Newman score these days is likely to net you almost an eight and that’s consistent quality.  The highlights of his current work are Saving Mr. Banks, The Adjustment Bureau and – nearly – the best score of his career in WALL-E.  Let’s tally the ten best of that career.  A quick note, composer scores are unique to the score not the movie.  Many a great score has been in a crap movie and vice versa, so these scores are based on the quality of the music:

NEWMAN’S GREATEST TEN
1. Road to Perdition (2002)…………………….10.00
2. WALL-E (2008)……………………………………….10.00
3. Finding Nemo (2003)…………………………….  9.75
4. Cinderella Man (2005)…………………………  9.50
5. Skyfall (2012)………………………………………….  9.50
6. The Adjustment Bureau (2011)…………  9.25
7. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)…  9.25
8. Lemony Snicket’s A Series of
Unfortunate Events (2004)……………………….9.25
9. Saving Mr. Banks (2013)………………………. 9.00
10. Scent of a Woman (1992) ………………….. 8.75
NEWMAN’S GREATEST AVERAGE: 9.425

skyfall01

You can’t do much better than that.  If he wasn’t following Williams’ 10, that would be a daunting number for any composer to beat.  Williams is the best composer of the 20th Century, so this is an outstanding number and one a lot of the actors and directors we’ve examined would be jealous of having.  In fact, it’s the third-highest number we’ve had across any discipline. 

Though he’s been scoring since the 1980’s, Newman’s skill and prominence have never been higher.  He’s doing the best work of his career, and I can’t wait to hear what he has in store for us over the next few years.  He’s officially attached to two future projects: the troubled Pixar film The Good Dinosaur and a unannounced Disney project releasing in 2018.  Newman seems to becoming Disney’s composer of choice.  Not bad work if you can get it.
newman-thomas-good_dinosaur

Top 10 Secondary Pixar Characters

Picture of the entrance to Pixar Place, at Dis...
Picture of the entrance to Pixar Place, at Disney’s Hollywood Studios (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Since I picked on them a bit during my Frozen review, I thought I’d give Pixar a tip of the cap by highlighting WatchMojo’s Top 10 Secondary Pixar Characters video.  Despite falling into sequelling and production difficulties, Pixar has still and I have faith will, produced more original characters to the popular lexicon than perhaps any single source since Marvel Comics in the 1960’s.  This video offers a nod, though, to the background characters.  What makes Pixar classics so rich is that even characters that have perhaps a minute of screen time can stick with you forever.  My personal favorites are the Aliens from Toy Story and Burn-E from Wall-E.  Enjoy taking a trip back to visit some old friends.