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Monday, October 24, 2011

Top 5 Film Score Composers

Note: I have not seen all of the movies I mention in this post, for some I have only heard the music. My rankings have nothing what so ever to do with how much I liked the film.

I was in the middle of my review of Titanic, and the idea struck me that I needed to write about the best film composers. To me music is an incredibly important part of a movie, it really brings out the emotional side of things. Sure, music will never make or break a film, but the guys that write the music for these films deserve way more recognition than they get! So, here it is, my top 5.

#5 Howard Shore - Yeah, I know, there could be a strong debate as to whether Howard Shore is even that good of a composer at all. After movies like A History of Violence and the Twilight Saga (which I did not like the music for either) I no longer get excited in a theater when I see Shore's name. In fact, it is to the point that when I see it, I immediately figure in my head that the music will not be good. However, his work in The Lord of the Rings Trilogy is arguably the greatest musical score in history, and it certainly makes my top 3. I don't care if I hate everything he does for the rest of his career, the work done is this series is enough for me to consider him great.

#4 John Williams - There isn't much to say about this man, he is brilliant by any standard. Look up Spielberg's greatest films, and Williams' will more than likely be the composer. Not to mention working for Harry Potter in the beginning.

#3 Clint Mansell - Uh oh, I am sure some people will probably get onto me for not having him at number 1. He may not be the best in my opinion, but Mansell has consistently done an excellent job with every film he composes for. Moon has been his most recent success, but it was Requiem for a Dream that made his name memorable. Now used in all kinds of trailers, YouTube videos, and many other things. His all too famous song Lux Aeterna might be my favorite song ever composed for a film.

#2 James Horner - Oh how close I was to putting him at the top spot! I had never heard the name before I watched the movie Braveheart, and one of the first things I did after completing the film, I went to the computer looking for the composer. He has been nominated for many Oscars, including twice in 1995 (Apollo 13, Braveheart) and to no surprise he took home the title in 1997 for Titanic. The list could go on and on, and I highly doubt his success at the awards is finished.

#1 Thomas Newman - I don't think I have ever been more moved by any music in history. I could listen to Newman all day, and I can actually say that his films have greatly benefitted because of him. The Shawshank Redemption, Little Women, The Green Mile, Road to Perdition, Finding Nemo, Cinderella Man, Jarhead, WALL-E, Revolutionary Road. Need I say anymore?

Also, for a little bit more fun, my favorite soundtracks ever!

#5 Up
#4 Requiem for a Dream
#3 The Return of the King
#2 Braveheart
#1 Road to Perdition


  1. Great list. Mine will definitely have Newman and Mansell. Haha.

  2. I'm loving all the love for Thomas Newman and his beautiful score for Road to Perdition... but I'm disappointed that Ennio Morricone isn't on this list! Have you listened to any of his scores? Try listening to "Love theme from Cinema Paradiso". If it doesn't make you shiver... You're not alive.

  3. They are both a must haha, thanks Rohit.

  4. Ah, I will have to look into him more! Thanks Nicholas.

  5. I have not seen your blog in a while, nice new layout! Also, I think Danny Elfman should have made it on this list. I agree Thomas Newman is grat. Good list!

  6. Elfman! Brilliant choice! I completely forgot about him, thanks Thomas!

  7. Man, you're doing well to diss on Howard Shore and then pop him into your top 5! Shore's work in much of the recent Cronenberg stuff has been pretty solid (History Of Violence was pretty good, if my memory serves), but yes, LOTR was astonishing in its breadth and scope.

    If you're relatively new to film study, can I suggest the work of some older composers - Jerry Goldsmith, Ennio Morricone, perhaps the greatest score ever written was for Larwence Of Arabia by Maurice Jarre, or even more modern talent like Eliot Goldenthal, Don Davis (whose work on the Matrix Trilogy perfectly captured the look and feel of that world), Randy Newman (for much of the Pixar stable), Alan Silvestri's score for The Mummy Returns, John Debney's Cutthroat Island score is phenomenal - the list goes on.

    Props to Filmmaster T above who mentioned Danny Elfman, possibly one of the greatest musical talent of the last 30 years.

    Personally, I'd have had John Williams at the top of that list, but hey, you have different tastes to me, Matt, which is great!

  8. I know, I figured that would make some people mad ;)

    Yeah, I would say I am definitely new. I have only had the blog for about four months I believe, and I always have to take long breaks because I don't have enough time. I do love Alan Silvestri and Jerry Goldsmith is incredible! I really will probably change this into a top 20 list one day haha.

    Yes, Danny Elfman will always be one of the greats! Thanks man!