Composer Simon Franglen has been presented with the 2022 International Film Music Critics Association Awards for Composition of the Year and Best Original Score for a Fantasy/Science Fiction Film by IFMCA members Jon Broxton and Craig Lysy. Both Franglen’s wins were for his score for the epic science fiction adventure Avatar: The Way of Water, the first sequel to director James Cameron’s 2009 blockbuster Avatar, which sends audiences back to the lush world of Pandora.
The other nominees in the Fantasy/Science Fiction category were Crimes of the Future by Howard Shore, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness by Danny Elfman, Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore by James Newton Howard, and Jurassic World: Dominion by Michael Giacchino.
The other nominees in the Composition of the Year category were “Mother and Son” from The Fabelmans by John Williams , “The Batman” from The Batman by Michael Giacchino, and three cues from The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power – “Galadriel,” “Numenor,” and “Sailing Into the Dawn” – by Bear McCreary. These are Franglen’s second and third IFMCA Awards; he previously won the Best Original Score for a Drama Film award for The Curse of Turandot in 2021.
Simon Franglen was born in London, England, in 1963, and studied at university in Manchester. He quickly became a skilled synth programmer, and was hired by super-producer and musician Trevor Horn to work as a Synclavier programmer for artists such as Yes, Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Godley and Creme. Franglen’s success in the UK led to a move to the United States in the 1990s; he subsequently worked with everyone from Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston and Madonna, to Barbra Streisand, Quincy Jones, David Foster, Toni Braxton, the Bee Gees, and Luciano Pavarotti – and during that same time he worked in film for composers such as John Barry, Alan Silvestri, James Newton Howard, Hans Zimmer, and Howard Shore, often as a synth programmer.
Franglen first worked with James Horner on Titanic in 1997 (winning a Grammy Award as a producer of the song “My Heart Will Go On”), re-connected with him a decade later on Avatar, and thereafter worked as an arranger and score producer on basically every score until Horner’s death, including The Karate Kid, The Amazing Spider-Man, Wolf Totem, and Southpaw, among others. It was Franglen who took the lead in completing Horner’s score for The Magnificent Seven in 2016, which was barely half-finished at the time, and he then adapted Horner’s music from Avatar for the theme park experience Pandora: The World of Avatar, which continues to be shown at Walt Disney World in Florida. His recent solo work has included such scores as Peppermint in 2018, The Curse of Turandot in 2021, and Notre-Dame Brûle in 2022.
IFMCA member Christian Clemmensen said that “Franglen surpassed all expectations in composing an astonishingly brilliant love letter to James Horner that is arguably superior to its predecessor,” and praised the score’s “fantastic themes, extremely tight narrative, and vibrant, smart mix of orchestra, voice, electronics, and specialty accents.” IFMCA member Jon Broxton also said that “with Avatar: The Way of Water, Franglen has made a strong case to be considered [James Horner’s] heir apparent, in that he takes a lot of what made James Horner the magnificent composer he was – including some of his mannerisms and ideologies – and blends them with his own sensibilities to make something new. Avatar: The Way of Water is one of the best film scores of 2022, and hopefully it cements Simon Franglen as an exciting new voice in film music for years to come – not just on the planned further Avatar sequels, but across the entire soundtrack spectrum.
See below for the acceptance speech and video interview conducted by Broxton and Lysy:
Click on the thumbnails for larger photo images:
With special thanks to Jason Kutchma, Erik Woods, and Holly Broxton.