The Decade in Review: Top 10 Scores

A music score can sometimes make or break a movie. It can make it by supporting the story of the film and making us feel what the character are feeling. It can break it by being overpowering and distracting the audience from the screen or for feeling out of place.

There are times when the music not only aids the movie, but also stands on it’s own as something you can listen to often and bring back what you felt during the movie. That is what all the scores in this list have in common. These are the scores that not only sound fantastic, but also made me feel something and made me remember them long after the movie was over

Here are my top 10 scores of the decade:

(click on the links to listen to my favorite track from each score)

Honorable Mention: Battlestar Galactica by Bear McCreary

This is only an honorable mention because it is from a TV show, were it not, it would have been my number two. This decade was when scores began to shine through in television, thanks in part to Michael Giacchino’s work in Alias and Lost. These scores are as orchestrated as those from movies, and tend to be as epic as the show they are scoring. The best one of the bunch, however, is Bear McCreary’s work in Battlestar Galactica. Like the people in the show, it uses multi-cultural sounds to fith within the story, and the sounds never feel out of place. When I listen to it by its self, it gives me chills.

Favorite tracks: Passacaglia, Kara Remembers

10. Where the Wild Things Are by Carter Burwell and Karen O

It is obvious which composer did which parts of the film. Most of the dramatic parts of the movie are filled with Burwell’s signature sounds, while the most playful ones are filled with Karen O’s compositions and songs. Yet, these two mesh together perfectly to enhance the overall mood of the picture is a pretty big part of what made the movie so great.

Favorite Track: Food is Still Hot

9. There Will be Blood by Johnny Greenwood

This is a very unusual score. There are some parts that are traditional and orchestrated, yet most of it is mixed with the sound design to increase the tension of the film. Upon my first watch, it was overwhelming and I kind of disliked it. But upon further viewings, you see how important it is to the movie and you just kind of go along with it, and now I can even listen to it without the movie.

Favorite track: Future Markets

8. Pan’s Labyrinth by Javier Navarrete

The booklet inside the CD says that you should listen to this score at night in order to get the full effect that Navarrete was going for. I did, and it was amazing. The main lullaby is magical, but also the music can sometimes be quite scary, particularly the last tracks. Of the nominees for best score in 2006, this should have been the winner.

Favorite track: A Princess

7. Ratatouille by Michael Giacchino

This score is a joy to listen to. I listen to it whenever I’m having a hard time doing something, and it makes me feel better. This score combines Giacchino’s signature jazzy sound with french culture, and the result is heavenly. This is the score that made Giacchino one of my favorite composers working today.

Favorite track: Collete Shows Him Le Ropes

6. Big Fish by Danny Elfman

One of the main complains that people who don’t like Big Fish have is that they think it is over scored. I simply don’t see it. Yes, the music is bombastic at times, but it never overwhelms what is going on in the screen. Were it not for the music, the ending would not have been as effective. When I listen to it by its self, it reminds me of the movie, and I can’t help by get teary eyed.

Favorite Track: Big Fish (Titles)

5. Memoirs of a Geisha by John Williams

I had this movie in my list of the most underrated movies of the decade. A lot of people didn’t like it, but even they could not deny the greatness of the score. Much like Michael Giacchino’s Ratatouille, it combines Williams’ signature sound with another culture, this time Japanese culture, and they get along just fine. Definitely Williams’ finest work this decade

Favorite track: The Chairman’s Waltz

4. Atonement by Dario Marianelli

A type writer plays a significant part in the story of the movie, as it does in the score. Here Marianelli used a typewriter as an instrument to  make the music of the first part to blend with the plot. However, once that first part is over, it becomes a more traditional one, but that doesn’t stop it from being brilliant and beautiful. The music alone makes me feel what the character are feeling. That is the sign of a great score.

Favorite track: Elegy for Dunkirk (gives me chills every time)

3. Requiem for a Dream by Clint Mansell

This score is as energetic as the movie. It combines techno music with the traditional orchestra and some exotic flavors. However, they are put through the depression filter of the movie’s plot, so all of the tracks have a somber mood to it. And of course, the “Lux Aeterna” track has become one of the most popular tracks on the last few year.

Favorite Track: Lux Aeterna

2. Amélie by Yann Tiersen

Much like the movie, I can’t help but feel happy when I listen to it. Even the slower tracks have a cheery feel about them. There are some that for some reasong gets me pumped, which is something that most scores, even the ones I love, don’t do. I wish Tiersen would score more movies.

Favorite track: La Valse D’Amélie (Orchestra Version)

1. The Fountain by Clint Mansell

This is the movie that made me realize the effect that a score has on a movie. every single track is breath taking and gives me chills. And during the movie it has a bigger effect on me. I could go on and on about this score, but rather than babbling on about why it is my favorite score of the decade, I’m going to let the music speak for its self

Favorite Track: Death is the Road to Awe

There you have it. Do you like any of these scores? Are there some that should have been on the list? Have your say in the comments section!

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