Whereas last week’s installment of my Top 50 film scores had some Academy-recognized entries, this week’s choices return to some less appreciated favorites. Once more, this doesn’t apply to soundtrack compilations but rather original film scores, that modern classical that can make poor films listenable and good films great. Enjoy!
#30: Driving Miss Daisy (1989), no Oscar nomination — Hans Zimmer
Hans Zimmer can certainly do more than dark, swelling music for Christopher Nolan. His fully-synthesized score for 1989’s Driving Miss Daisy has just the right amount of Southern perkiness, enhanced for the humorous scenes and slowed for the dramatic ones. The old-timey sound evokes the mid-20th century setting and always brings to mind Morgan Freeman as he drives a sour-faced Jessica Tandy around. It never fails to put a smile on my face or get my foot tapping.
#29: The Incredibles (2004), no nomination – Michael Giacchino
When a fantastic family film and a sweet superhero saga are one and the same, that achievement deserves a super score. Full of brassy bombast and intrigue, Michael Giacchino’s score for Pixar’s The Incredibles made it an even more awesome film. Certain parts also have a perfect James Bond quality to elevate the classy ‘60s super-spy vibe. This was also the start of an ongoing collaboration between Pixar and Giacchino, who provided the music for Ratatouille, Up, and Inside Out (not to mention Lost, the greatest TV show of all time. Oh yeah, in my opinion).
#28: The Mummy Returns (2001), no nomination — Alan Silvestri
While not the most critically acclaimed of actioners, I’ve always enjoyed Brendan Fraser’s Mummy franchise, and Alan Silvestri’s score for the second film is an underrated gem. I never really notice how much I like it until I hear it during the end credits. With its decidedly Middle Eastern tone, the music complements the action during the film and recreates that same sense of adventure when heard alone. Like many of these choices, I’ve found it’s excellent writing music.
#27: The Avengers (2012), no nomination – Alan Silvestri
Without a doubt, my favorite superhero score has to go to arguably the best superhero achievement of them all, Marvel’s The Avengers. The music has such a grand, heroic tone that you can practically see Thor or Iron Man strutting in your mind’s eye. By itself, it’s downright awesome; when paired with the assembling team of superhero stars, it doesn’t get much more epic.
#26: Treasure Planet (2002), no nomination – James Newton Howard
Treasure Planet may not be Disney’s most popular outing, but it boasts one of their best standalone scores. Inspiring and adventurous, sometimes wistful and folksy, the music is just one memorable element of this underrated sci-fi tale. The merging of traditional Celtic rhythms and a rock-Celtic style helps to propel the whole idea of combining the 18th-century setting of Stevenson’s novel with the film’s space-faring environment.