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San Diego Film Festival

San Diego Film Festival celebrates our eleventh anniversary with five days filled with 100 award-winning films; intimate gatherings with filmmakers and celebrities; high-powered industry workshops and four nights of San Diego`s most glamorous parties.




The Battle of the Kirstens Scored by Jonny Greenwood (Film Comparison of “Power of the Dog” vs “Spencer”)

Friday closed with a bang. Two powerhouse, sure to be Oscar contenders, screened back to back to sold out crowds. Jonny Greenwood scored both films in what is sure to clinch him multiple Oscar nominations. Kirsten Dunst and Kirsten Stewart went head to head as two leaders in the best actress race this year. So, I feel it is appropriate to compare the two films.


Power of the Dog is a tension filled, slow moving story about toxic masculinity set in an early 1900s Cowboy dominated region of Montana. Directed by Jane Campion (her first film since "The Piano" 15 years ago) the film has a familiar tone, similar to Ang Lee’s ‘Brokeback Mountain.’ Benedict Cumberbatch does what we expect him to do, transform. Many are saying Kirsten Dunst could finally pick up her first Oscar for her passionate portrayal of Rose Gordon, a widowed restaurant owner, swept off her feet by a sensitive cowboy played by her real life husband Jesse Plemons. Campion will surely be in the running for best directing as the emotional tone was as strong as anyone could have expected. 



Spencer just might be one of the best films of the year. Pablo Lorain presents a fable of epic proportions. Subtly shifting color grades, with a splash of surrealism, creates the perfect tone for a film about pain, deceit and control. Kirsten Stewart delivers a career defining depiction of Princess Diana, absolutely losing herself in the role. It was ‘Get Out’ the royal family edition and executed to perfection.



Jonny Greenwood was the star of the night. He gifted us with two perfectly crafted scores that provided an emotional backdrop that leaves audiences with chills. In Power of the Dog he hides in the background, supporting the emotional tension with heavy percussion reminiscent of ‘The Master’ and ‘There Will be Blood.’ Although the score in ‘Power of the Dog’ was well done, he blows the doors wide open with his Jazz infused, classical score, in ‘Spencer.’ Not only did it match the tone, it amplified it. Leaving you with a feeling of disorientation and a longing for personal freedom.


When all is said and done, both films will likely be heavily nominated at the Oscars and other major award shows. The performances across the board were nothing short of stellar. It will be a battle between the two Kirstens, and Cumberbatch will certainly be in the crowd. In my personal opinion, ‘Spencer’ is  the superior film, but not by much. I found no faults in the film, while I found ‘Power of the Dog’ lacking in set-up. In ‘Power of the Dog’ the emotions were there, the tension was persistent, but at times it felt unmotivated. The action on screen barely warranted the high intensity emotions that Kirsten Dunst emoted. Meanwhile, Kirsten Stewart never skipped a beat. She had me enthralled from the jump and finishes strong with a heartfelt ending that is sure to melt audiences hearts.


Both films were excellent, but Jonny truly brought something special to the table with his score in ‘Spencer’ and Kirsten Stewart may have had the performance of the year. They will both surely get their flowers but ‘Spencer’ took the cake and ate it too.


My ratings:

Spencer - 5/5 stars

Power of the Dog - 3.5/5 stars


Written by: Cameron Lui  



About San Diego Film Festival

San Diego Film Festival celebrates the art & style of film for five days in September with 100 award-winning films; intimate gatherings with filmmakers and celebrities; high-powered industry workshops and five nights of San Diego`s most glamorous parties!

San Diego

United States

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