Throughout his career, French composer Alexandre Desplat has written original scores for everything from famous franchises to works of art and essay. He has also forged partnerships with influential authors like Wes Anderson and Guillermo del Toro. Since winning his first Oscar nomination for Best Original Score in 2007, he has won the statuette twice and received eight other nominations for his work on films like Little woman.
His exceptional work also earned the composer three BAFTAs. Desplat’s most recent collaboration with Anderson, The French dispatch, was nominated for the 2022 Golden Globes and is on the Oscar list for Best Original Music. Like John Williams and other influential film composers, Desplat has proven to be a monumental creative force in modern cinema.
The Queen (2006)
Desplat won the first Oscar for Best Original Music of his Career for the 2006 biographical drama The Queen. The film is set in 1997 and focuses on the aftermath of Princess Diana’s sudden death and the reaction of the royal family. For her role as Queen Elizabeth II, Helen Mirren has won numerous awards, including an Academy Award, a BAFTA and a Golden Globe.
Desplat composed 16 different songs for The Queen performed by the London Symphony Orchestra. In addition to the Oscar nomination, her score received a BAFTA Award for the nomination for best music for a film. Some exceptional compositions from Desplat’s original score include the majestic and swelling “The Queen” and the slightly menacing “Mourning”.
Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)
Animated film by Wes Anderson in 2009 Fantastic Mr. Fox marks the first collaboration between the director and Desplat. An adaptation of Roald Dahl’s children’s story from 1970, Anderson’s underrated stop-motion film is incredibly charming and stylishly embraces the decade of the story’s release. Since its release, Fantastic Mr. Fox has become one of Anderson’s best-known titles.
The theme of the film, “Mr. Fox in the Fields”, captures the audience’s attention with a few strokes of the banjo string and has become one of the most recognizable songs in Desplat’s vast catalog. The composer’s score contains as much whimsy and nostalgia as its source material, and touches of folk music help it stand out. Desplat’s work has won Oscar and BAFTA nominations.
The King’s Speech (2010)
The king’s speech, Tom Hopper’s biographical drama about King George VI seeing a speech therapist to control his stuttering, is the first Oscar for best picture with an original score by Desplat. The king’s speech also won Oscars for Best Actor, Best Director, and Best Original Screenplay. Desplat’s score won the BAFTA for Best Soundtrack and Best Soundtrack for Visual Media Grammy.
A surprising R-rated film, The king’s speech would be the fourth film to land an Oscar nomination for Desplat, though it loses to Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’ memorable score for Social network. With retro-sounding compositions like “Queen Elizabeth” and the film’s title song, the composer used his sheet music to tell the story of an important man trying to express his thoughts to the masses.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (2010)
One of Desplat’s five films in 2010, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1 and its second half of 2011 are among the composer’s most popular scores. The beginning of the end of Harry potter saga, the deathly hallows part 1 follows the Golden Trio as they hunt down Voldemort’s Horcruxes and risk their young lives for the good of the Wizarding World.
For Part 1, Desplat composed 29 original songs to guide the beloved characters through the final chapters of their stories. Among the stars are the opening track “Obliviate”, which plays as Hermione fades from her parents’ memories, and “Ron’s Speech”, a hauntingly beautiful song from the magical stage where Ron finds his friends after destroying Salazar Slytherin’s locket.
Moonrise Kingdom (2012)
Wes Anderson Desplat’s second film composed for, Moonrise kingdom is a coming of age story about young love and adventure. Confused tweens Suzy and Sam flee after feeling alienated, heading to the New England wilderness on the fictional island of New Penzance. Moonrise kingdom features excellent performances from its cast of Hollywood legends and doe-eyed newcomers, as well as some of Anderson’s most iconic costumes.
Along with Desplat’s original orchestrations, another frequent Anderson collaborator, Mark Mothersbaugh, designed percussion compositions for the film. The Kingdom of Moonrise the score draws its stylistic inspiration from that of Benjamin Britten Youth guide and also features music by the late composer and various artists like Hank Williams and Leonard Bernstein alongside original songs by Desplat.
The Grand Hotel Budapest (2014)
The Grand Hotel Budapest marks Desplat’s third collaboration with Wes Anderson and the composer’s first victory for Best Original Music at the Oscars. The dramatic comedy, nominated for Best Picture at the 87th Academy Awards, tells the story of a lobby boy’s adventures as an accomplice to a famous janitor after the man was charged with murder. With the Oscar, Desplat won his second BAFTA and Grammy.
Desplat was inspired by Russian folk music, taking the viewer back in time as the film tells the story of Zero and Monsieur Gustave. The Grand Budapest Hotel’s score features the Osipov Russian State Folk Orchestra throughout its 32 tracks. “Mr. Moustafa” is one of Desplat’s most popular tracks on Spotify, and other great compositions include “Escape Concerto” and “The New Lobby Boy”.
The Imitation Game (2014)
At the 87th Academy Awards, Desplat competed in the Best Original Music category. While he won for The Grand Hotel Budapest, his score for the historical drama The imitation game is just as beautiful. The film explores the life of Alan Turing, a British mathematician and codebreaker, and won the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay.
Although he joined the project late, Desplat was able to create a fantastic score for the film. His score, which uses piano arpeggios to describe Alan’s constant thought, was recorded by the London Symphony Orchestra. Joan Clarke by Keira Knightley, one of Turing’s other coders, has her own song in the score, and “Joan” is as interesting and complex as the character she is named after.
The Shape of Water (2017)
Desplat won the second Oscar for Best Original Music of his Career for the 2017 film, The shape of water. The historic fantasy film is often considered the best and most romantic of del Toro’s feature films. Set during the Cold War, The shape of water tells the story of Elisa Esposito, a mute cleaner who falls in love with a human-amphibian hybrid held in a government lab.
In addition to the excellent performances of Sally Hawkins, Octavia Spencer and Doug Jones covered with a prosthesis, The shape of water has a high score. Now a master in his art, Desplat was able to create moving music to be associated with del Toro’s sci-fi romance. The composer won the Golden Globe for Best Original Music for Cinema and his third BAFTA. The titular composition was nominated for two Grammys.
Little Women (2019)
Desplat landed the 11th Oscar nomination of her career for scoring Greta Gerwig’s adaptation of Little woman. After the four March sisters as they came of age in Massachusetts during the Civil War, Little woman received critical acclaim and 6 Oscar nominations, winning the award for best costume design.
Starring a career-best performance by Saoirse Ronan and a starring tour of Florence Pugh, the seventh adaptation of Little woman has become a fan favorite. While Desplat may not have won a third Oscar for sheet music, tracks like “Laurie and Jo on the Hill” and “Plumfield” are among his best, the latter earning a Grammy nomination for best instrumental composition. .
The French Dispatch (2021)
The latest collaboration between Wes Anderson and Desplat, The French dispatch is a visual love letter to journalism told through three vignettes. Following stories written by three of the fictional newspaper’s reporters, the film explores an artist behind bars, the life of student activists, and the kidnapping of the police commissioner’s son.
Another of Desplat’s popular sheet music on Spotify, The French dispatch will compete for the Golden Globe for Best Original Music against Encanto, The Power of the Dog, Parallel Mothers and Dune. Some notable songs from the score include the entertaining and fast-paced “Animated Car Chase” and “Obituary”, the opening track of the film.
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