Composer Daniel Pemberton has been presented with the 2020 International Film Music Critics Association Award for Composer of the Year by IFMCA member Tim Burden. Pemberton’s varied projects over the year included the literary adventure Enola Holmes, based on the popular young adult novels by Nancy Springer about the younger sister of the legendary sleuth Sherlock; the political drama The Trial of the Chicago 7, which looks at the real-life trial of a group of anti–Vietnam War protesters charged with inciting riots at the 1968 Democratic National Convention; Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn), a comic book action movie which looks at the adventures of the maniacal anti-hero as she runs riot in Gotham City following her break-up with the Joker; and Rising Phoenix, an acclaimed documentary following the stories of nine Paralympic athletes.
The other nominees in the category were Federico Jusid, Bear McCreary, Christopher Willis, and Hans Zimmer. Pemberton is a 14-time IFMCA Award nominee, having first been nominated in 2016, but this is his first win in any category.
Daniel Pemberton was born in London in November 1977. After releasing ‘Bedroom’, a self-produced record of avant-garde electronic music, at the age of 16, Daniel moved into writing music for the small screen. A year later, in between doing his homework, he wrote his first TV soundtrack – a documentary for Channel 4 in which media visionary Janet Street Porter argued that the internet was a pointless passing fad. Since then, he has become one of the most in demand and prolific composers in the world, writing music for over 150 different productions.
Pemberton’s breakthrough came in 2013 when he scored director Ridley Scott’s film The Counselor. Since then his high profile film work has included titles such as The Man from U.N.C.L.E. for director Guy Ritchie, the biopic of Steve Jobs (for which he received his first Golden Globe nomination), the historical action movie King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, the acclaimed dramas Molly’s Game and All the Money in the World, the groundbreaking animated super hero film Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, and the period thriller Motherless Brooklyn, for which he received his second Golden Globe nomination for Best Score.
In addition to his film work, Pemberton has also scored the TV series such as Peep Show, Dirk Gently, Black Mirror, and The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance, and written several acclaimed video game scores including The Movies, two titles in the Littlebigplanet series, and Knights and Bikes. He received his first Oscar nomination in 2020, co-writing the song “Hear My Voice” with Celeste for The Trial of the Chicago 7.
IFMCA member James Southall called Enola Holmes “a great orchestral adventure romp, whose quirks only add to its great sense of fun … fresh and energetic and one of the year’s strongest scores.” Southall also described “The Trial of the Chicago 7” as “at its peak, one of the strongest film scores of the year” while lauding the fact that “Pemberton exercises a lot of restraint, with subtle music highly respectful of the unfolding drama within the film”.
See below for the acceptance speech video interview: