Jonny Greenwood is an Auteur Composer
Just listen to “House of Woodcock” or “Open Spaces.”
“Auteur” is the ever-controversial word used to describe a filmmaker who exhibits an extraordinary amount of personal style and artistic control in their work. Paul Thomas Anderson, Spike Lee, Martin Scorsese, and Sofia Coppola are just a few filmmakers who have rightfully earned the title of auteur. But what about composers? Can a film, at least partially, be a product of the composer, and their trademarks and personal styles?
Well, if anyone were to make a case for a composer gaining auteur status, the obvious choice would be Jonny Greenwood. The Radiohead guitarist may only be in the early stages of his composing career—he only has seven film scores and two documentary scores to his name—but he has surely made an impact. Greenwood is one of the few composers with a unique sound, which he carries throughout every film he scores, regardless of the director. In the same way that you can look at a single image and think, “that looks like Wes Anderson,” you can listen to a single phrase of music and think, “that’s Greenwood.” This is the fundamental basis of auteurism. Greenwood’s style can be cumbersome, raw, and tense, as in You Were Never Really Here. Or it can be lush, silky, and lavish as in his Oscar-nominated work on Phantom Thread. Despite different approaches, the result is always undeniably Greenwood.