10 films that were flawlessly scored by singer-songwriter Danny Elfman
The soundtrack behind a movie sets the emotion and tone for a scene. Mastermind Danny Elfman has a way of capturing that exact feeling. Elfman showcases various sides to his creativity and emphasizes an ominous and slightly eerie atmosphere in “Sally’s Song” from Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas. He also shines a light on his ability to bring powerful, daunting melodies with “Hippolyta’s Arrow” in Zack Snyder’s Justice League.
Elfman has a way of drawing a connection to an audience. He brings fans in with his own voice while composing the perfect score to fit a scene for a film.
Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas
Elfman played a critical role in bringing The Nightmare Before Christmas to life. The 1993 film centers around the mishaps of what happens when inhabitants of another holiday infiltrate one that doesn’t belong to them. Elfman not only scored the movie but also lent his singing voice to Jack Skellington.
As Skellington is the main character, his theatrical voice homes in on completing his vivacious personality. The movie also shows the dynamics between somber songs such as “Something’s Up With Jack” and the attitude of “Oogie Boogie’s Song.” Elfman hammers in the precise sound of each character. This makes for a well-rounded film and forms a sentimental relationship between the audience and the movie.
Zack Snyder’s Justice League
2017’s Justice League was directed by Joss Whedon and Zack Snyder. Although Snyder had to leave filming due to a family tragedy, he still has sole credit for directing the film. Fans of the movie and DC Comics were disappointed in the outcome of the movie as they rallied for Snyder’s cut of Justice League. Dramatics aside, Elfman’s composure for the movie had nothing to do with fans' original disappointment. He harnessed his talents to create a soundtrack that’s large in sound. With the film’s scenes filled to the brim with intense battles between characters, they’re accompanied by Elfman’s soft yet bold music.
Tim Burton’s Edward Scissorhands
The 1990 film Edward Scissorhands follows a fantasy love story between Edward Scissorhands (Johnny Depp) and Kim Boggs (Winona Ryder). The visuals range from bold and cheery to brutally cold between swift scene changes. Elfman managed to capture each of these adjustments promptly, building a majestic aura throughout the film. Elfman exaggerates brass instruments during goofy scenes, such as when Scissorhands grooms the neighborhoods’ dogs. Audiences can hear the music elegantly change as he begins to cut Joyce Monroe’s (Kathy Baker) hair. These subtle changes construct a new outlook on the overall scene. Other moments such as the car ride highlights that exact ability to tell a story within the music.
Scott Mosier and Yarrow Cheney’s The Grinch
When the name Danny Elfman dances across our minds, most of us think of the dreary and creepy sounds he makes. However, we can also find his name tied to Scott Mosier and Yarrow Cheney’s 2018 version of The Grinch. Elfman’s expertise in scoring films reaches a new level in this movie. It showcases diversity in scenes, being able to adapt from warm moments to more frightening ones. As the movie develops, so does the score, growing alongside heartwarming and even some sinister storylines. Elfman is in complete control of the audience’s heart.
Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy
The Spider-Man trilogy (2002-2007) follows the story of Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) as Spider-Man, who fights villains such as Green Goblin (Willem Dafoe), Doctor Octopus (Alfred Molina,) Sandman (Thomas Haden Church) and Venom (Topher Grace). While the movies have extreme fight scenes that encompass heroic endeavors, fans also watch as a love story unfolds between Parker and Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst). Elfman matches masculinity with femininity, making advances with his sound. He has a way of adding his own flair to his work. It’s easy to distinguish that it’s him creating these melodies by the familiarity in his style.
Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride
The Corpse Bride is the essence of Elfman. The movie, released in 2005, brought Burton’s fans together to witness the dreary world of the living collide with the vigorously colorful land of the dead. Set in the Victorian era, audiences watch as Victor Van Dort makes the unfortunate accident of proposing to Emily, the Corpse Bride. As viewers watch the scenes change in and out of each world, Elfman keeps the movie together by maintaining the tonality that each character requires. This connects the two worlds graciously, making the film a high point in Elfman’s career.
Sam Taylor-Johnson’s Fifty Shades Of Grey
Fifty Shades Of Grey, released in 2015, delves into a different side of love and lust. Audiences follow Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) as she explores her femininity and sexuality with Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan). Steele is shown a thrilling new way of loving and pushed to her limit. While fans follow this awkward love story, Elfman is in charge of setting the mood for each scene. He creates the atmosphere through his scores, outlining the excitement and uncertainy of these experiences. It’s difficult to capture these new feelings, whether Steele is feeling scared or adventurous. But Elfman put his best foot forward to capture the innocence and excitement of sexuality.
Shane Acker’s 9
The 2009 film 9 follows ragdolls as the last “people” on Earth. These ragdolls come together one by one, trying to put their version of society back together. The film pulls at your heartstrings as these characters, all labeled by a number, find their way back together. While the movie is unsettling to watch, Elfman takes that uncomfortable feeling and expands on it. Ultimately, 9 and Elfman capture the film’s overarching theme of hopelessness. He digs into that gut-wrenching feeling and turns it into a flawless score.
Barry Sonnenfeld’s Men In Black
In Men In Black, viewers are taken through an outlandish adventure as two secret agents, Agent J (Will Smith) and Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones), supervise exterrestrial life forms throughout the film. Elfman scores the film with a serious melody while playing on the goofiness of the film. Elfman keeps it lighthearted as the landscape of the movie changes. Through his career, he’s been able to constantly show his ability in fitting the criteria that each movie calls for. He pulls in that emotional connection, even when it’s something as simple as alien supervision.