To continue counting down my top 50 musical scores, here are the next five, some of which might not show up on other people’s lists of favorites since none were even nominated for Best Score. Again, these are exceptional soundtracks that I enjoy listening to. I love pop, classical, country, electronic, alternative rock, and even a little hard rock every now and then, but for magnificent background music, nothing beats movie music, whether it’s the background for some mundane activity or a favorite film. Enjoy!
#45: Glory (1989), no Oscar nomination – James Horner
Befitting the film’s title, the score combines military-style drums with the Boys Choir of Harlem to evoke the heroism and the sad eminence of soldiers marching into deadly battle. One section of the music sounds suspiciously like Horner’s later theme for The Pagemaster, but it’s so lovely that it’s hard to fault him. The 54th Massachusetts Regiment deserved a moving tribute, and both the film and its music delivered just that.
#44: Requiem for a Dream (2000), no nomination – Clint Mansell
From what I’ve heard and seen, I have no desire to see Darren Aronofsky’s acclaimed study of addiction, which has been labelled the most depressing film ever made. Yet, despite its subject matter, its slow-burn score with those grating violins is surprisingly…um… addictive. Its centerpiece “Lux Aeterna” has been used in multiple movie trailers and with good reason. You could set any film’s best scenes to this song and make it look positively epic. Even more awesome is the remix created for a trailer for The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, known as “Requiem for a Tower,” which illustrates my point in the following video. Can you handle the epicness? (Yes, that’s a word…now.)
Mild violence warning, though nothing graphic:
#43: Elizabeth: The Golden Age (2007), no nomination – Craig Armstrong and A.R. Rahman
I can’t speak to the quality of this sequel to 1998’s Elizabeth since I have yet to see it, though it’s reportedly poorly written and anti-Catholic, but I was easily impressed by the grandeur of its music. You might recognize the best track, “Storm,” from one of the trailers for Man of Steel. It’s another one of those spectacular songs that adds awe to imagery like spice to chili. As you can tell, I’m drawn to music that creates a sense of wonder and majesty… oh, and I like chili too.
#42: Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey (1993), no nomination – Bruce Broughton
This is one soundtrack that is near and dear to my heart, since this film was a memorable piece of my childhood. To provide the score for Disney’s remake of 1963’s The Incredible Journey, Bruce Broughton was brought on and gave Shadow, Chance, and Sassy some inspiring travel music. Lighthearted but motivational, the music spurs the listener to explore what might be over the next hill.
The video shows the film’s ending, so spoiler warning for some and nostalgia warning for others:
#41: Ruby Sparks (2012), no nomination – Nick Urata
This was somewhat of a last-minute entry, and as such, I must apologize to my VC for the elimination of one of her favorite scores (The Horse Whisperer). When I saw this film just recently, the charming score immediately grabbed my attention and never left my mind. It may not fit into the epic mold that many of my other choices do, but I’ve found some quite inspiring writing music, thanks to Nick Urata of the quartet DeVotchKa, who provided the score for the directors’ previous film Little Miss Sunshine. The track “She’s Real” (the last in the video) is my favorite, one of those lovely, repetitive songs that easily gets stuck in my head, like The Verve’s “Bitter Sweet Symphony.” For me, it was the best part of the movie.