Once more, it seems that my list of top 50 film scores tends to opt for the less acclaimed favorites, though there’s still an Oscar winner in the mix too. Again, these are original soundtracks that excel as background music for their films and for writing, exercising, working, driving, and any other mundane activity in need of inspiration. There’s nothing quite like movie music, and it just gets better from here. Enjoy!
#25: National Treasure/National Treasure: Book of Secrets (2004/2007), no nominations – Trevor Rabin
It’s no secret that I love these movies, but the scores for both really are phenomenal, thanks to the lead singer of British band Yes, Trevor Rabin (also known for Armageddon and Remember the Titans). At times, the music is straight adventure movie fare, often conveying a sense of urgency and/or mystery, but often it builds to this historically-themed magnificence that perfectly captures the appeal of the films themselves. Of the two, I probably prefer the score for Book of Secrets a tad more, but I couldn’t separate them. Here’s hoping Disney will make this a trilogy one of these days!
#24: Elizabethtown (2005), no nomination – Nancy Wilson
It’s also no secret that I adore this film, a hilarious, heart-tugging, romantic, endlessly quotable reflection on love and death. It also possesses one of the few scores I actually own. Nancy Wilson of Heart (who was married to director Cameron Crowe at the time) provided the perfect bluegrass-inflected guitar music to accompany Orlando Bloom’s visit to his dead father’s hometown in Kentucky. Not many films have both a memorable score and an outstanding rock music soundtrack, and whenever I hear either one, I’m instantly in the mood to watch the movie again. The links below show a song of each.
#23: Chariots of Fire (1981), Oscar winner – Vangelis
The sight of a flock of Olympic runners jogging along a beach was made truly iconic by this classic synthesizer-laden score. Capturing the simple majesty of running (in slow-motion), this music is even better than the movie itself, which is saying a lot. Beautiful on every level.
#22: Dinosaur (2000), no nomination – James Newton Howard
Leave it to James Newton Howard to write a magnificent score for a poorly reviewed Disney film. I personally like the film, and probably everyone else would if it consistently carried the same prehistoric glory as its soundtrack. Filled with power and awe, the music from the breathtaking opening scene (reminiscent of Moses) is enough alone to earn this a spot on my list.
#21: Jane Eyre (1970), no nomination – John Williams
While not his most well-known work, there’s a haunting beauty to Williams’ music for the 1970 version of Jane Eyre, starring Susannah York and George C. Scott. Evoking Gothic mystery and sweeping romance, the delicate score cemented this film as my favorite rendering of Emily Brontë’s story. And like Wuthering Heights the same year, it does a weepy number on my VC. Those Brontë sisters surely knew how to write bittersweet yarns from the moor, which seem to bring out the best in composers.