"I, Robot." "Scream." "The Omen."
These are just a few of the films for which Marco Beltrami '88 has composed the scores.
Recently, the Brown alum, with co-composer Buck Sanders, was nominated for his second Academy Award for best original score for Kathryn Bigelow's film, "The Hurt Locker."
"The Hurt Locker" is an acclaimed thriller about a leader of an Explosive Ordnance Disposal unit in the U.S. Army in post-invasion Iraq in 2004. The film has been nominated for eight other Academy Awards, including best picture and best director.
Beltrami's score is going up against original scores from "Avatar," "Fantastic Mr. Fox," "Sherlock Holmes" and "Up."
An urban studies concentrator at Brown, Beltrami said he never thought he would be nominated for one, let alone two, Oscars. His first nomination was in 2008, for his original score in James Mangold's "3:10 to Yuma."
The composer, who said that his first job out of college was with the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority, has since reached public acclaim for his film scores. He is also known for his work with Marilyn Manson and his collaboration with Guns N' Roses on their 2008 album, "Chinese Democracy."
Beltrami said Bigelow had been in the process of editing her movie when she first contacted him. "I got a call over a few years ago from Kathryn," he said. "She had seen ‘3:10 to Yuma,' and she liked the music in regard to her movie."
The writing process took about two months, after Beltrami first watched the movie with Sanders. Beltrami said the score was intended to be subtle and not draw attention to itself.
He added that the music was there to enhance the intensity of the movie, and that he wanted the music to be seamlessly woven into the film.
"The movie didn't need much music, it was very much a documentary-type style," he said. "The music is textural. There is a theme that comes in for the main character when he has emotional connections with his teammates, and this develops later on in the movie."
Beltrami added, "People have asked me, because the film takes place in Iraq, if the music has a little Middle Eastern flavor to it. But the lead role, (William) James, is a stranger in a strange land, and the music is more in his point of view."
He said that it was the first time he had composed a score like this, and it has changed how he thinks about film and sound. "I am much more conscious of the rest of the sound world than just writing the music and getting it done. I'm more conscious of the picture as a whole," he said.
Though this is his second Oscar nomination, Beltrami said that he was shocked and surprised, though very happy, at the nomination.
"I knew that the movie was a great movie, and it was receiving a lot of attention, but the score is very subtle, and musically, it's very understated," he said.
He added that he thought there would be a very small chance people would notice it. He was not thinking about or considering an Oscar nomination, and he said he feels the same way about the results on Sunday. "There are some other strong scores, and musically, they call more attention to themselves," he said.
Jokingly, though, he admitted that he would be preparing a speech just in case.
At Brown, Beltrami was first a geology concentrator before switching to urban studies, but was always interested in music. He said that it was at Brown that he was first introduced to electronic music, and has been attracted to it ever since.
"Brown was very formative for me in many ways, especially academically and creatively," he said. He added that when he visited the University, he found that, though the students were not as technically advanced as those coming out of a conservatory, they had something more unique and more interesting to say.
"Just because you aren't in music school doesn't mean you can't be a composer," he said, and encouraged anyone interested in film scoring to continue pursuing it.
Beltrami said he already has two future projects lined up. He is working on scores for an upcoming film called "Jonah Hex," directed by Jimmy Hayward, and a Guillermo del Toro remake of a film called "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark."