Carter Benedict Burwell (born November 18, 1955) is an American composer of film scores. He has frequently collaborated with the Coen brothers, having scored 15 of their films. Burwell has scored three of Todd Haynes' films, receiving an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Score for Haynes' Carol (2015). Other notable films scores include the Spike Jonze films Being John Malkovich (1999), Adaptation (2002) and Where the Wild Things Are (2009), David O. Russell's Three Kings (1999), Olive Kitteridge (2014), and Anomalisa (2015).
Early life and education
Burwell was born in New York City, the son of Natalie (née Benedict), a math teacher, and Charles Burwell, who founded Thaibok Fabrics, Ltd. He graduated from King School in Stamford, Connecticut and Harvard College, where he was a cartoonist for The Harvard Lampoon.
As a film composer, Burwell has had a long-working relationship with the Coen brothers, providing music for every film they have made (except for O Brother, Where Art Thou? and Inside Llewyn Davis, which had folk music soundtracks produced by T-Bone Burnett). He enjoys working with left-field directors, such as Spike Jonze. Among his best known film scores are Miller's Crossing (1990), And the Band Played On (1993), Conspiracy Theory (1997), Hamlet (2000), The Spanish Prisoner (1997), Before the Devil Knows You're Dead (2007), In Bruges (2008), Twilight (2008), Where The Wild Things Are (2009), The Blind Side (2009), and Breaking Dawn Part 1 (2011). Burwell wrote and recorded the original score for the film The Bourne Identity, but his version was replaced by director Doug Liman for one by John Powell.
Ultimately the ethos of the punk rock movement gave Burwell the impetus to start performing. He performed in New York with several bands, notably The Same, Thick Pigeon, and Radiante. Burwell played in Thick Pigeon with Stanton Miranda; the group released two albums, Too Crazy Cowboys (Factory) and tracks on Miranda Dali (Crepuscule), originally released as a Miranda solo project but later reissued as a Thick Pigeon release. On Burwell's soundtrack for Psycho III, Miranda was a featured singer.
By 1986 he had composed the music for a dance piece, RAB, which premiered at the Avignon Festival. At the same time, he was touring worldwide with The Harmonic Choir, David Hykes' experimental vocal group, which specialized in overtone singing.
Burwell used the country music genre as the basis for his score for the Coens' Raising Arizona in 1987. From 1982 to 1987 he worked at the New York Institute of Technology.
His work has alternated between live performance, dance and theater commissions, and film scoring. His chamber opera, The Celestial Alphabet Event, was presented in New York in 1991, and other theater pieces include Mother (1994) and Lucia's Chapters (2007), both with the experimental theater group Mabou Mines.
In April 2005 Burwell composed and conducted music performed by The Parabola Ensemble for the plays Sawbones, written and directed by the Coen brothers, Hope Leaves the Theater, written and directed by Charlie Kaufman, and Anomalisa, written and directed by Kaufman as Francis Fregoli. This was a segment of the sound-only production "Theater of the New Ear", which debuted at St. Ann's Warehouse in Brooklyn, New York, with support from Sirius Satellite Radio. It was also performed at the Royal Festival Hall in London, England, in May 2005, and at Royce Hall in Los Angeles, California, in September 2005, as part of the UCLA Live Festival.
In 2009, Burwell was the recipient of the ASCAP Henry Mancini Award from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers. In 2010, he was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score for Where the Wild Things Are.
In 2015, he received the Distinguished Film Composer award from the Middleburg Film Festival, and the Los Angeles Film Critics Association award for Best Music Score for Anomalisa and Carol. He was nominated for the Annie Award for Music in an Animated Feature Production for Anomalisa and the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score for Carol. In 2016, he received the Satellite Award for Best Original Score and the Best Score award by the International Cinephile Society for Carol. Burwell was awarded Film Composer of the Year by the World Soundtrack Awards, and the score for Carol received the Public Choice Award for the Best Score of the Year.
Burwell received his first Academy Award for Best Original Score nomination for Carol.
Burwell married Christine Sciulli in 1999.
|1984||Blood Simple||Joel Coen||N/A|
|1985||A Hero of Our Time||Michael Almereyda||short film|
|1985||R.A.B.L.||Patrice M. Regnier||short film|
|1986||Psycho III||Anthony Perkins||N/A|
|1987||Raising Arizona||Joel Coen |
|1988||Pass the Ammo||David Beaird||N/A|
|1988||The Beat||Paul Mones||N/A|
|1988||It Takes Two||David Beaird||N/A|
|1989||Checking Out||David Leland||N/A|
|1990||Miller's Crossing||Joel Coen||N/A|
|1991||Barton Fink||Joel Coen |
|1991||Doc Hollywood||Michael Caton-Jones||N/A|
|1992||Buffy the Vampire Slayer||Fran Rubel Kuzui||N/A|
|1993||This Boy's Life||Michael Caton-Jones||N/A|
|1993||A Dangerous Woman||Stephen Gyllenhaal||N/A|
|1993||Wayne's World 2||Stephen Surjik||N/A|
|1994||The Hudsucker Proxy||Joel Coen||N/A|
|1994||It Could Happen to You||Andrew Bergman||N/A|
|1995||Bad Company||Damian Harris||N/A|
|1995||A Goofy Movie||Kevin Lima||Composed with Don Davis|
|1995||Rob Roy||Michael Caton-Jones||N/A|
|1995||The Celluloid Closet||Rob Epstein |
|1995||Two Bits||James Foley||N/A|
|1996||Fargo||Joel Coen |
|1996||Joe's Apartment||John Payson||N/A|
|1996||The Chamber||James Foley||N/A|
|1997||Picture Perfect||Glenn Gordon Caron||N/A|
|1997||Assassin(s)||Mathieu Kassovitz||French film|
|1997||Conspiracy Theory||Richard Donner||N/A|
|1997||The Locusts||John Patrick Kelley||N/A|
|1997||The Spanish Prisoner||David Mamet||N/A|
|1997||Girls Night Out||Myra Paci||short film|
|1997||The Jackal||Michael Caton-Jones||N/A|
|1998||Gods and Monsters||Bill Condon||N/A|
|1998||The Big Lebowski||Joel Coen |
|1998||Velvet Goldmine||Todd Haynes||N/A|
|1998||The Hi-Lo Country||Stephen Frears||N/A|
|1999||The Corruptor||James Foley||N/A|
|1999||The General's Daughter||Simon West||N/A|
|1999||Being John Malkovich||Spike Jonze||N/A|
|1999||Three Kings||David O. Russell||N/A|
|1999||Mystery, Alaska||Jay Roach||N/A|
|2000||What Planet Are You From?||Mike Nichols||N/A|
|2000||Before Night Falls||Julian Schnabel||N/A|
|2000||Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2||Joe Berlinger||N/A|
|2001||A Knight's Tale||Brian Helgeland||N/A|
|2001||The Man Who Wasn't There||Joel Coen |
|Nominated—BAFTA Award for Best Film Music|
|2002||The Rookie||John Lee Hancock||N/A|
|2002||Searching for Paradise||Myra Paci||N/A|
|2003||Intolerable Cruelty||Joel Coen |
|2004||The Ladykillers||Joel Coen |
|2004||The Alamo||John Lee Hancock||N/A|
|2006||The Hoax||Lasse Hallström||N/A|
|2007||No Country for Old Men||Joel Coen |
|2007||Before the Devil Knows You're Dead||Sidney Lumet||N/A|
|2008||In Bruges||Martin McDonagh||N/A|
|2008||Burn After Reading||Joel Coen |
|2009||A Serious Man||Joel Coen |
|2009||Where the Wild Things Are||Spike Jonze||Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score|
|2009||The Blind Side||John Lee Hancock||N/A|
|2010||Howl||Rob Epstein |
|2010||The Kids Are All Right||Lisa Cholodenko||Composed with Nathan Larson and Craig Wedren|
|2010||True Grit||Joel Coen |
|2011||Midnight Run||Neil Shelley||short film|
|2011||The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1||Bill Condon||N/A|
|2011||Moving Gracefully Towards the Exit||Jean-Bernard Andro |
Patrice M. Regnier
|2012||Seven Psychopaths||Martin McDonagh||N/A|
|2012||The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2||Bill Condon||N/A|
|2013||The Fifth Estate||Bill Condon||N/A|
|2015||Mr. Holmes||Bill Condon||6th collaboration with director Bill Condon|
|2015||Carol||Todd Haynes||Won—Satellite Award for Best Original Score |
Nominated—Academy Award for Best Original Score
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score
|2015||The Family Fang||Jason Bateman||N/A|
|2015||Anomalisa||Charlie Kaufman |
|2016||The Finest Hours||Craig Gillespie|
|2016||Hail, Caesar!||Joel Coen |
|2016||The Founder||John Lee Hancock||N/A|
|1990–1991||Clash!||Ha! / Comedy Central||Main Title Theme|
|1993||And the Band Played On||HBO||Television Film|
|2011||Mildred Pierce||HBO||Miniseries |
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Music Composition for a Miniseries, Movie, or a Special
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Main Title Theme Music