Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Soundtrack of Cinema

The theme on Idol this week will be "Movie Music" (more on that one on Tuesday) which got me thinking about movie scores. I consider myself a connoisseur of movie composers and theme music. To me, a movie's likability/watchability can actually be affected greatly by the score. A good example of this is the film Glory which by itself is a great civil war movie powered by Matthew Broderick and Denzel Washington (in an Oscar winning role). What made Glory one of the best war movies of all-time was the power of the score by James Horner. Do yourself a favor and check it out again when it get's its run on TNT/TBS again. The theme music of Glory is so moving and poignant that it really takes the film to the next level. Horner makes my list of the 10 best cinematic composers of all-time which I dish out below along with some of their most memorable scores.

1. John Williams - Without a doubt the greatest film composer of all-time. I would actually consider John Williams to be one of the 10 most influential people in my life. I grew up with his movies (mostly Spielberg's) and I find myself humming his songs on a near-daily basis. He's still kicking out some scores for Spielberg but when he does eventually pass away, it will be a sad day for me personally.
  • Jurassic Park
  • Star Wars (all 6 films)
  • Jaws
  • Indiana Jones Trilogy (the Crystal Skull never existed)
  • Schindler's List
  • Saving Private Ryan
  • .... and too many others to list in one blog
2. James Horner - He reached his peak in the 90's with Titanic and Braveheart.  He still puts out some good efforts but is not nearly as reliable as Williams.
  • Aliens
  • Glory
  • Braveheart
  • Titanic
  • A Beautiful Mind

3. Howard Shore - Really hasn't done much outside of Lord of the Rings, but since the score for the LOTR trilogy may very well be the best composed score in motion picture history, I have to rank him this high.
  • Lord of The Rings
  • Aviator
  • A History of Violence
4. Hans Zimmer - Delivers powerful churning scores that really drive the action in his movies.  Do yourself a favor and check out the theme music from Crimson Tide and The Rock.
  • Crimson Tide
  • The Rock
  • Gladiator
  • The Dark Knight
5. Alan Silvestri - Some of the best known movie scores that John Williams didn't compose are those written by Silvestri.  Back to the Future is his best work and the music completely carries the pacing of those films.  Listen to this clip from Predator to see how tense his music can be (it really does have some similar tones that resemble the BTTF theme).  He's basically joined at the hip to Robert Zemeckis as Williams is to Spielberg.
  • Predator
  • Back to the Future Trilogy
  • Contact
  • Cast Away
6. Jerry Goldsmith - The expert at scoring sports movies.  Goldsmith's Hoosiers score is one of my personal top five scores of all-time.  He was also the driving force in Rudy.  Unfortunately, Goldsmith passed away five years ago.
  • Gremlins
  • Hoosiers
  • Rudy
  • Air Force One
7. Danny Elfman - Tim Burton's right-hand man and the master of weird movie music.  Bettle Juice and the Michael Keaton Batman scores are his best work.  His most accomplished theme may be for TV though (The Simpsons theme song).
  • Pee Wee's Big Adventure (trust me, this soundtrack is awesome)
  • Beetle Juice
  • Batman
  • Men in Black
  • Good Will Hunting
8. James Newton Howard - Most often works with my ex-favorite Director M. Night Shyamalan.  Unbreakable has a terrific score.
  • The Fugitive
  • The Sixth Sense
  • Unbreakable
  • Signs
9. Ennio Morricone - I am putting him on this list chiefly because of The Mission.  Download this soundtrack on iTunes or wherever you can find it and enjoy the peaceful classical tones that make this score unique.  This is definitely the most beautiful piece of movie music ever written.
  • The Mission
  • Bugsy

10. Randy Edelman - The movie Dragonheart is probably a terrible film (looks bad but I haven't seen it).  The score however is brilliant and when you hear it you'll recognize it from other trailers where it's been featured.  Listen to this clip to see/hear what I mean.
  • Twins
  • Ghostbusters II (naturally)
  • Dragonheart
If you've made it to the bottom of this list then you must be a fan of movie scores yourself.  Did I miss anyone above?  Are there any other movies not listed that you love the score of?


Tucker said...

if I could favorite a blog post it would be this one. I love everyonenof these composers.

Jordan said...

Thanks Tucker. There were a few I couldn't fit on the list as well. If I had to pick my least favorite one it would be Randy Newman. I can't stand that clown.