Top Ten Film Scores

Related to the death of Basil Poledouris (see my earlier post), a friend of mine () posted the following:

“This got me to thinking about my favorite film scores, some of the best music being composed is for films these days. So I am curious as to what your favorites are.”

This is the sort of meme I like much more than the usual “validate me by telling me that you really, really like me” thing, so, without further ado:

Gareth’s Top Ten Favorite Film Scores:
(In no particular order, ‘cuz it depends on my mood)

1. Young Sherlock Holmes by Bruce Broughton

2. Bram Stoker’s Dracula by Wojciech Kilar

3. Conan The Barbarian by Basil Poledouris

4. The Black Hole by John Barry

5. The Lord of the Rings by Howard Shore

6. The Rocketeer by James Horner

7. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn by James Horner

8. You Only Live Twice by John Barry

9. The Crow by Graeme Revell

10. Blade Runner by Vangelis (I don’t mean the crappy “New American Orchestra” version, either — I’m lucky enough to have a 2-disc bootleg of the actual Vangelis score)

There are tons more: I’m a film score nut. I own many, many scores where I like a handful of the compositions, but not enough for the entire album to make that list (Wolfgang Korngold’s swashbuckler films from the 30s and 40s, various blaxploitation action scores of the 70s, Thomas Dolby’s score for Gothic, Toto and Brian Eno’s score for Dune, just to name a very few….).

You’ll also notice that the usual suspects (Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Superman) by John Williams aren’t there….and it’s not that I don’t like them. It’s just that I find that Williams does anthems and particular cues very well (the main title from Star Wars or Raiders, for example or “The Planet Krypton” from Superman) but the incidental stuff is just….meh.

18 Replies to “Top Ten Film Scores”

  1. I’m lucky enough to have a 2-disc bootleg of the actual Vangelis score

    *Ponders exactly what I could do to return the favor of getting a copy of this.*

  2. “2. Bram Stoker’s Dracula by Wojciech Kilar

    5. The Lord of the Rings by Howard Shore”

    I agree, in both cases–assuming you’re disregarding the horrific and utterly unnecessary vocal pieces at the end. Blech.

    (Of course, those might bug me more than most people because I tend to use soundtracks as background for games, and nothing ruins the mood like the sudden shift to bad vocals.)

  3. Normally, film scores are “OK” with me — don’t hate’em, but don’t love’em either. However, a decent amount really stand out that I like. Unsurprisingly the LOTR soundtrack oeuvre is among them. I’m also a Danny Elfman goob — I love A Nightmare Before Christmas and Corpse Bride. The Crow: check. Blade Runner: check.

    My absolute favorite, however, is Thomas Newman’s score for A Series of Unfortunate Events. “Puttanesca” and “Drive Away” are my favorite tracks.

    I’ve also noticed that Graeme Revell is behind quite a few other soundtracks that I like (Dune, Aeon Flux, Sin City, The Chronicles of Riddick, Titan A.E., Pitch Black, The 13th Warrior, The Saint, etc).

  4. John Williams…

    You are correct, he does some parts particularly well and others just enh…but that kind of makes sense to me as the music should not overwhelm the movie completely.

    “This is the sort of meme I like much more than the usual “validate me by telling me that you really, really like me” thing, so, without further ado:”

    I am always curious as to what I should check out that I might have missed in the way of film music.

    Thanks for posting.

  5. Lord have mercy, so you’re the other person who loves the Young Sherlock Holmes soundtrack. It’s one of the most beautiful scores ever, every theme so evocative. I’m a big fan of Broughton anyhow.

    As far as John Williams is concerned, I find that his best score is probably Last Crusade. Every note in that one was important.

  6. 1985 was a good year for Broughton. Not only did he do YSH, but he was also responsible for the best Western movie score since The Good, The Bad & The UglySilverado.

  7. Yeah, I’m a huge Revell fan. (I just got a two-disc bootleg — yes, another one — which features the full recording sessions for his score to The Saint….rather than the edited commercial release.)

  8. Oh my GOD– I was just putting Silverado on my Top Ten LIst.

    Strangely, the only real reason I miss the eighties. Some very good movie scores and compilations as well.

  9. I agree with you about the John Williams soundtracks…

    with one exception…
    his soundtrack for Saving Private Ryan. Ithas some of the most melancholic french horn playing ever recorded.

  10. I, too, am a huge fan of Graeme Revell work. It’s not a great film, but Hard Target is what keyed me into his work. He’s definitely a “working composer” – sometimes his score contribution outshines the film itself (Mighty Morphin Power Ranges: The Movie), and sometimes they become just as intregal to the movie (The Crow). Even when he’s working on a film that has a lot of musical “weight” to it already (like Freddy vs. Jason), he doesn’t just remix what’s been done before.

    I’ll buy a Graeme Revell score from a film I’ve not seen just because it’s Graeme Revell, and I’m always keeping my eyes open for . . . hell, call them unreleased albums, call them bootlegs, whatever . . . At one point, I heard some bits of the music he had done for The 13th Warrior before Michael Chrichton rejected it and brought in Jerry Goldsmith to do the job. (Unfortunately, it was saved to a computer where I once worked, and I failed to transfer the .mp3s off of the machine before it was wiped clean for my replacement . . . )

    (Speaking of which, not that I’d advocate such a thing, but if anyone would like to “borrow” any of this unreleased music, or “loan” copies of it, drop me a line . . . )

  11. My favorite Broughton score comes not from 1985, but 1987 . . . The Monster Squad . . . ! I stumbled across a copy of this almost two years ago (it’s never been released), and it’s been in heavy rotation on my playlist ever since!

  12. Young Sherlock Holmes

    Gosh, that used to be a staple of my Gaming Music library. Now I should see if I can dig this film up to show my wife.

    Thanks for the reminder about this one…
    ‘Rami tep…’

  13. What I found fascinating about this list was, only having missed one of the movies on the list (i.e. The Crow), the number of movies where I liked the score better than the movie.

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