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Forums Forums General Discussion How would you rate Elfman's overall output in 2010s?

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    Since the end of 2019 (as well as the 2010s) is upon us. How would you rate Elfman’s overall output in the 2010s? Was it either great, disappointing, average, or nothing special, etc? What are your favorite/least favorite Elfman scores from the 2010s? How would this decade compare to previous decades (mid 80s (since this is point in his career where he became a film composer), 90s, and 00s) for Elfman?


    I’m a big fan of electronic Elfman (The Next Three Days, The End of the Tour, Fifty Shades of Grey, The Girl on the Train, The Circle…), so I’ve really enjoyed that particular direction is career has gone in. I also think those scores have helped kill the ‘All Elfman scores sound the same’ criticism that doesn’t seem to be said nearly as much as it used to.

    Big, big thumbs up for the concert music.

    I think what’s hurting Elfman’s film music career is the quality of the films he’s scoring. He’s had a lot of bad luck this decade, and the films that were genuinely great were little-seen – Silver Linings Playbook being a big exception, but the score doesn’t have a huge presence there. Both Alice scores and Dumbo are top-tier Elfman fantasy scores that aren’t likely to stay in public consciousness due to the films themselves. Both Dolittle and Woman in the Window have had troubled productions, so it seems like things aren’t going to get much better in that regard.


    For the most part, I’ve quite disliked his work for the big blockbuster/action stuff. That’s not where his strength lies these days, IMO. Whimiscal, noisy and bereft of a thematic soul.

    On the other hand, I’ve been really impressed with his smaller scores and concert works. If it had been up to me, he would JUST nurture that, but as we all know, he likes to do different projects for variety’s sake.

    Favourite score would be THE UNKNOWN KNOWN, even if it’s drenched in Glass like much of his work post-Serenada Schizophrana. I also really like THE NEXT THREE DAYS, RESTLESS, PROMISED LAND, THE CIRCLE and the violin concerto.


    That was definitely a decade of cursed movie projects and plain bad ones. Although I respect his work on more intimate/small projects (really liked Tulip’s Fever and The Unknown Known), I’m not much into his electronic work. I do like electronic music in general by the way but his sound there does not click for me.

    At this stage of his career and with the current state of film music in Hollywood, I think he has probably only one or two opportunities left to write a popular score to a successful movie. Especially since Tim Burton will properly struggle to pick up projects seeing his latest efforts results, both artistically and financially. And not to mention Sam Raimi who pretty much stopped directing for the moment.

    And of course, there is the concert music which I guess will only take more and more place in his schedule anyway. Which is great because it’s always fascinating music to listen to.

    So, all in all, it was more of a transition decade to what will probably be the last phase of his career. Hard to compare it with the others. Quite interestingly (and to some extent), it’s closer to his early years in film music than anything else.


    It’s a weird world. In an interview in late 2015, Silvestri said that the phone wasn’t ringing anymore. He’s just had an incredible two years.

    I think Elfman still has aspirations in film scoring. Doyle and Powell (two of my favourites) are very content to just have one project on the go and to work on that one project for up to a year. Because of this, their output is excellent, but there’s something lacking in their filmographies. It’s not like with Elfman, were it could be announced tomorrow that he’s working on a big fantasy, an indie drama, a thriller, an animation, a superhero movie and none of those would really surprise me. I also appreciate that he’s always working with new directors. Giacchino generally scores good movies, but they’re generally 3/5 good and that’s boring. James Newton Howard seems to be in a similar boat of his best movies being the ones were the score does less….

    I guess what I’m getting at is that I want Elfman to have Desplat’s career. I’d settle for just a handful of swapped assignments.

    He said ages ago that if he could model his career after anyone’s it would be Goldsmith’s, and I wonder if that’s happening.

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