Composer John Powell has been presented with the International Film Music Critics Association Award for Score of the Year and Best Original Score for a Fantasy/Science Fiction/Horror Film by IFMCA members Jon Broxton and Kaya Savas, for his work on the Star Wars spinoff film Solo. This is Powell’s second win for Score of the Year, having previously won for How to Train Your Dragon in 2010, and his eighth win overall. He was also nominated for Score of the Year in 2006 for X-Men: The Last Stand, and in 2014 for How to Train Your Dragon 2
The other nominees for Score of the Year were Ludwig Göransson for Black Panther, Justin Hurwitz for First Man, Marc Shaiman for Mary Poppins Returns, and Mark McKenzie for Max and Me.
The other nominees in the Fantasy/Sci-Fi/Horror category were Ludwig Göransson for Black Panther, James Newton Howard for Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, Michael Giacchino for Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, and Alan Silvestri for Ready Player One .
John Powell was born in London, England, in September 1963. He studied the violin as a child, and later attended Trinity College of Music, while supplementing his income playing in a soul band called The Fabulistics. Upon leaving college, Powell began writing music for commercials, which ultimately led to him being hired as an assistant to composer Patrick Doyle, with whom he worked on several film productions, including Much Ado About Nothing, Needful Things and Carlito’s Way.
Powell began writing music for television in the United Kingdom in the early 1990s, most notably on the comedy-drama series Stay Lucky, and then in 1995 Powell and his college classmate, conductor Gavin Greenaway, co-founded the commercial music house Independently Thinking Music, which subsequently produced scores for more than 100 British and French commercials. This brought Powell to the attention of composer Hans Zimmer, who encouraged Powell to relocate to Los Angeles and join his Media Ventures music house. Powell agreed, and after a stint working on the short-lived ABC action drama series High Incident, he made his film music debut in 1997 scoring the John Woo-directed action thriller Face/Off, starring Nicolas Cage and John Travolta. On the back of that film’s success, Powell quickly became known as one of the most dynamic young composers in Hollywood.
Powell’s subsequent works have included scores for box office hits such as Shrek (2001, co-written with Harry Gregson-Williams), The Bourne Identity (2002), The Bourne Supremacy (2004), Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005), X-Men: The Last Stand (2006), Happy Feet (2006), Ice Age: The Meltdown (2006), The Bourne Ultimatum (2007), Hancock (2008), Kung Fu Panda (2008, co-written with Hans Zimmer), and the How to Train Your Dragon trilogy (2010-2019), the first of which secured him his first Academy Award nomination. He is the go-to composer for animated films produced by the Dreamworks studio, having scored such films as Antz (1998, co-written with Harry Gregson-Williams) and Chicken Run (1999, co-written with Harry Gregson-Williams) in addition to the titles already mentioned, and has established long-running directorial collaborations with filmmakers such as Doug Liman, George Miller, Paul Greengrass, and animation specialist Carlos Saldanha. In addition to his Academy Award nomination for How to Train Your Dragon, Powell also has three BAFTA nominations and three Grammy nominations.
Solo which looked at the early life of the legendary rogue and intergalactic smuggler Han Solo. The film was directed by Ron Howard, and starred Alden Ehrenreich, Emilia Clarke, and Donald Glover. In describing the score, IFMCA members Asier Senarriaga and Óscar Giménez called Solo “a spectacular score that combines the classic ideas of Williams with the talent of Powell,” and proclaimed it “the score of the year,” while IFMCA member Jon Broxton – speaking about the score’s multitude of recurring character themes – said that the way Powell “incorporates all the thematic complexity into his score is masterful, but best of all is the way he allows them to develop organically; this is not just a rigid leitmotif score where mathematics trumps emotion. Instead, Powell engages in sensible and appropriate development, meaning that when the emotional outbursts do come, they pack a real wallop, and satisfy both the heart and the brain in equal measure.”
See below for the acceptance speech and video interview conducted by Broxton and Savas:
Click on the thumbnails for larger photo images: