Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Top 50 Favorite Movie Soundtracks

Here it is, the complete list of my top 50 favorite film scores.  Remember, these are all original scores, each franchise is represented as one entry, and this is a list of my favorites, not what I think are the greatest film scores.  Oh, and I have to have seen the movie for it to be on the list.  Enjoy.

50. Indiana Jones Trilogy: John Williams
Listen to This: Raiders March, Slave Children's Crusade, Finale & End Credits 

49. James Bond Series: Multiple Composers 
Listen to This: James Bond Theme, Alpine Drive

48. Wall-E: Thomas Newman
Listen to This: Eve, Directive A-113, Mutiny!

47. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Ennio Morricone
Listen to This: The Good, The Bad And The Ugly, The Ecstasy of Gold

46. Edward Scissorhands: Danny Elfman
Listen to This: Introduction (Main Titles), Ice Dance, The Grand Finale

45. Superman: John Williams
Listen to This: Main Theme, The Planet Krypton, Love Theme

44. Gamera Trilogy: Kow Otani
 Listen to This: Main Title, Air Battle, Gyaos Flies Over

43. The Grand Duel: Luis Bacalov
Listen to This: Parte Prima

42. Finding Nemo: Thomas Newman
Listen to This: Nemo Egg (Main Title), Filter Attempt, Swim Down

41.Terminator 2: Judgement Day: Brad Fiedel
Listen to This: Main Titles, I'll Be Back, Terminator Impaled 

40. The Fountain: Clint Mansell
Listen to This: The Last Man, Death is the Road to Awe, Together We Will Live Forever

39. Godzilla Series: Multiple Composers
Listen to This: Main Theme, Godzilla's Rampage, Requiem

38. Fargo: Carter Burwell
Listen to This: Fargo, North Dakota, End Credits

37. Suspiria: Goblin
Listen to This: Suspiria, Sighs, Markos

36. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo: Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross
Listen to This: An Itch, Under the Midnight Sun, What If We Could?

35. Saving Private Ryan: John Williams
Listen to This: Hymn to the Fallen, Omaha Beach, Wade's Death

34. The Bourne Trilogy: John Powell
Listen to This: Main Titles, Escape From Embassy, Berlin Foot Chase

33. Robocop: Basil Poledouris
 Listen to This: Van Chase, Home, Showdown

32. The Last of the Mohicans: Trevor Jones and Randy Edelman
Listen to This: Main Title, Elk Hunt, The Kiss

31. American Beauty: Thomas Newman
Listen to This: Dead Already, Angela Undress, Any Other Name

30. The Godfather(s): Nino Rota
 Listen to This: Main Title (The Godfather Waltz), A New Carpet, The Godfather Finale

29. Hoosiers: Jerry Goldsmith
Listen to This: Best Shot, The Finals

28. The Untouchables: Ennio Morricone
Listen to This: The Strength Of The Righteous (Main Title), The Untouchables, On The Rooftops

27. The Last Samurai: Hans Zimmer
 Listen to This: A Way of Life, A Hard Teacher, Red Warrior

26. The Lion King: Hans Zimmer
Listen to This: To Die For, Under the Stars, King of Pride Rock

25. Road to Perdition: Thomas Newman
Listen to This: Road to Chicago, Cathedral, Road to Perdition

24. The Dark Knight Trilogy: Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard
Listen to This: Molossus, Introduce a Little Anarchy, No Stone Unturned

23. Equilibrium: Klaus Badelt
Listen to This: Encounter, More Reprimand, End Credits

22. Once Upon a Time in America: Ennio Morricone
 Listen to This: Poverty, Deborah's Theme, Childhood Memories

21. Gods and Monsters: Carter Burwell
Listen to This: Return to the Trenches, Frankenwhale, Friend? 

20. To Kill A Mockingbird: Elmer Bernstein
The main theme to this movie makes me think of a exhale of relief, followed by a smile.
Listen to This: Main Titles, Boo Who?, End Title

19. Field of Dreams: James Horner
I don't think I can get through the last scene of this movie without crying, and the music does not help me hold in the tears.  
Listen to This: The Cornfield, The Drive Home, The Place Where Dreams Come True

18. Naqoyqatsi: Philip Glass, featuring Yo-Yo Ma
Philip Glass always delivers and this soundtrack is one of his best with songs that I have trouble not finishing.
Listen to This: Naqoyqatsi, Primacy of Number, Intensive Time

17. The Silence of the Lambs: Howard Shore
 This music makes my spine tingle and it is one of the first soundtracks I became obsessed with back in middle school.  
Listen to This: Main Title, Lambs Screaming, Finale

16. Batman/Batman Returns: Danny Elfman
I prefer this soundtrack to The Dark Knight Trilogy, and I may prefer the first Batman to The Dark Knight...
Listen to This: The Batman Theme, Descent Into Mystery, Selina Transforms

15. Donnie Darko: Michael Andrews
Most people don't come away from Donnie Darko thinking that it has a great soundtrack, but I'm not really like most people.
Listen to This: Carpathian Ridge, Liquid Spear Waltz, Time Travel

14. Moon: Clint Mansell
When I heard the first few piano notes to the soundtrack I knew this movie was going to be great.  
Listen to This: Welcome to Lunar Industries, Memories (Someone we'll never know), Sacrifice

13. The Shawshank Redemption: Thomas Newman
Thomas Newman has received ten academy award nominations for best score and has not won any, even for his masterpiece, The Shawshank Redemption.
Listen to This: Shawshank Redemption (Stoic Theme), Zihuatanejo, Shawshank Redemption

12. Once Upon a Time in the West: Ennio Morricone
Ennio Morricone's best score, to Sergio Leone's best film, which is also the greatest western, ever.
Listen to This: Once upon a time in the West, Man With A Harmonica, A Dimly Lit Room

11. Braveheart: James Horner
Gift Of a Thistle is relaxing, Sons Of Scotland is inspiring and 'Freedom' / The Execution Bannockburn gets my heart pumping.  Greatness.
Listen to This: A Gift Of A Thistle, 'Sons Of Scotland', 'Freedom' / The Execution Bannockburn

10. Amélie: Yann Tiersen
I think it is impossible to come away from watching Amélie and not have a grin on your face.  The music shares that distinction, in that, it makes you happy just listening to it.  Paris is depicted in Amélie as a pristine and beautiful place, almost too good to be true.  Yann Tiersen's score has it's own magical quality all in its own.  Comptine d'Un Autre Été has an almost daydream nature to it while La Valse d'Amélie almost makes you feel like you are in a bit of heaven.
Listen to This: La Valse d'Amélie, Comptine d'Un Autre Été, La Dispute

9. Schindler's List: John Williams
I cried more the first time I watched Schindler's List than I think I have ever cried before.  For a solid week after my first viewing I could not listen to the film's main theme without breaking out into tears.  That was kind of annoying since I really like the song, but it is just too poignant.  While most of John Williams' scores have more of a fantastical adventure feel, his score for Schindler's List is more "serious" and calm.
Listen to This: Theme from Schindler's List, Schindler's Workforce, Making The List

8. Good Bye Lenin!: Yann Tiersen
Yann Tiersen makes his second appearance in the top 10 with his incredible score to Good Bye Lenin!  Like Amélie, the song Summer 78 feels like a daydream, with a floating through the air feeling to it.  The track, Good bye Lenin, always makes me feel like I should be thinking deep philosophical thoughts about life.  The title track to the score was actually the most played song on my itunes before I had to replace my dead hard drive.
Listen to This: Preparations for the last tv fake, Summer 78 (instrumental), Good bye Lenin

7. Glory: James Horner
At one point I actually considered Glory to be my favorite movie and also my favorite score.  It has been bumped to number 7 but it is still fantastic.  James Horner is on this list a bit and this is definitely, in my eyes, his best score.  The Boys Choir of Harlem really adds a lot to the score, especially in A Call To Arms.  I have fond memories of playing the charging of Fort Wagner scene over and over when I was younger, and one of the reasons I did so was because of the music.
Listen to This: A Call To Arms, Preparations for Battle, Charging Fort Wagner

6. Spirit of the Marathon: Jeff Beal
I am really shocked this score has received almost no attention.  In fact, I had to upload songs from it because there were none already on youtube.  I really don't understand why this is so; I think it is one of the greatest scores ever written on so many levels.  It has such a great range in emotions. When it needs to be, it is exceptionally epic, while in other moments it is beautifully peaceful.  This is definitely one of my top choices for music to listen to before a track meet.  Shocking, I know.
Listen to This: Opening Credits, Optimism and Injury, The Wall and Journey of the Soul

5. Star Wars: John Williams
This being in the top 10 should not come as a shock to anyone, and to some it not being ranked higher may be the surprise.  This score is simply incredible and AFI actually ranked Star Wars as the greatest American film score ever written.  The prequel films may have been awful, but the music sure was good, which is why two of the three sample songs I posted are from episodes one and three, respectively.  I don't know if I can even pick a favorite score out of the six films.
Listen to This: Duel of the Fates, Battle Of The Heroes, The Battle Of Yavin

4. Requiem for a Dream: Clint Mansell
This is a film that I first became interested in watching because of the score.  My older brother was showing me some music and the Summer Overture started to play.  I was shocked that he had the songs because I knew it as the song from The Two Towers Trailer.  Little did I know, that the song I was thinking of is a remix of the main theme to Requiem for a Dream.  This score cuts into you deep, perfectly for the images in the film to then emotionally thrash you.  On its own, though, the score still hits the right chords. 
Listen to This: Summer Overture, Ghosts of Things to Come, Southern Hospitality

3. Waltz with Bashir: Max Richter
This is the another score which I heard before I saw the movie.  I had a collection of music from the composer Max Richter and I loved it.  Then I saw on his wikipedia page that he also does films scores.  I looked in my itunes, with joy, to find that I had some music from Waltz with Bashi.  If I were to describe this score in a single word I would use, "haunting."  I can listen to What Had They Done? on repeat for hours upon hours and slowly move into a state of depression and somehow be okay with it. 
Listen to This: Iconography, What Had They Done?, Andante / Reflection (End Title)

2. Koyaanisqatsi: Philip Glass
Anyone who knows what movies I love should have been expecting Koyaanisqatsi to make the list.  The score is arguably half the film's content, so with that thought one would expect the score to be pretty good then.  It is far beyond good and closer to spectacular, in my opinion.  There is not a single song on the soundtrack I don't love listening to, but it is Prophecies that really takes the cake for me.  It's another one of those songs I can listen to on repeat for hours and be in complete bliss.  This may not only be my favorite score by Glass but also my all around favorite piece of music written by him.
Listen to This: Koyaanisqatsi, The Grid, Prophecies

1. The Lord of The Rings: Howard Shore
It just had to be this.  The Lord of the Rings is not only my favorite film score but one of my favorite all around things in the world.  One of the highlights of my life so far was being able to see this music performed live with Howard Shore conducting.  The score has its fair share of relaxing songs, such as Concerning Hobbits, but what is really fantastic about this score is just how grand and epic it is.  The Lord of the Rings trilogy is one of the most massive films in the history of cinema and for it, Peter Jackson needed a score of equal proportions.  Howard Shore delivered and then some, with this masterpiece that stands as one of the highlights for the entire art of cinema.  
Listen to This: Concerning Hobbits, The Fighting Uruk-Hai, Khazad-Dûm
Théoden King, The Battle Of The Hornburg, The Last March Of The Ents,  
The Crack Of Doom, The Battle of the Pelennor Fields, The Siege of Gondor

Notable Omissions:
I noticed as I finished the list that I forgot two major films.  They are:
The Mask of Zorro: James Horner
Listen to This: Elena and Esperanza, Zorro's Theme, Diego's Goodbye


: Nino Rita
Listen to This: Nell'Ufficio Di Produzione Di, Carlotta's Galop, La Passerella d'Addio

I was too far into making my list to include these soundtracks so I will just acknowledge how awesome they are right here.

Top 3 Composers Represemted:
3. Hans Zimmer, James Horner, and Clint Mansell- 3
2. Ennio Morricone - 4
1. Thomas Newman and John Williams - 5


  1. What about Jurassic Park, ET, or Back to the Future?

  2. I was pretty close to adding Inception but it just didn't make the cut. Jurassic Park, ET, and Back to the Future were considered but it didn't go further than that. Keep in mind that these are my favorites, not what I think are the greatest.