Composer Nathan Johnson has been presented with the International Film Music Critics Association Award for Breakthrough Composer of the Year in 2012 by IFMCA members Jon Broxton, Oscar Flores and Craig Lysy. Johnson was recognized for his excellent work on the sleeper sci-fi hit Looper starring Bruce Willis, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Emily Blunt.
This is Johnson’s first IFMCA nomination and win. The other nominees in the category were Zeltia Montes for her score for the Spanish language drama Vilamor, Nic Raine for his work on the German-language Cold War thriller Wir Wollten Aufs Meer, Dan Romer and Benh Zeitlin for their unconventional score for the Oscar nominated Beasts of the Southern Wild , and Joseph Trapanese for his extension of the sound he helped create for the Tron Legacy film on the TV series of the same name.
Looper is a science fiction action-adventure with a time travel twist, written and directed by the composer’s cousin, Rian Johnson. The film takes the concept of time-travel and mixes it with organized crime; in the future, when the mob wants to take someone out, they use the newly invented but highly illegal time-travel technology to send someone back in time, whereupon they are immediately killed by a “looper” – an assassin in the past. Gordon-Levitt plays Joe, one such looper, and is good at his job – until he realizes that his latest victim, just sent back in time, is Bruce Willis, the future version of himself.
Johnson’s unconventional, highly percussive score blends modern orchestral and electronic scoring techniques with a massive array of sampled percussion items, ranging from trash can lids, an oscillating fan, and gunfire to hammered PVC tubes and fire alarms, all of which he recorded while spending time on the set of the film in Louisiana in the winter of 2011. The end result is an unusual but highly creative score which provides the film with an organic, yet slightly alien musical world that captures the essence of the film perfectly.
Colorado-born Johnson spent a great deal of time living and working in the United Kingdom in the 2000s, and is a founder member of the touring band The Cinematic Underground, with whom he still works as a songwriter, arranger, and producer. He also spends time enjoying a second career as a graphic artist and music video director. He made his film music debut comparatively recently, when he scored Rian Johnson’s first two films, Brick in 2005 and The Brothers Bloom in 2008. His upcoming scores include Don Jon, Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s directorial debut scheduled for release in September 2013.
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