How do you possibly choose the 8 most favorite film scores of all time? Music is very subjective and everyone has their own favorite lists. This was evident when researching to find that special group of favorites. So, the decision was made to review four separate online rankings of films scores and then pull the scores that appeared the most out of the rankings. Then we factored in the average placement of the scores. The result is a list eight gems that are classic and timeless. Even if you’ve never seen the movies, no doubt you’ve heard the scores.
1. Star Wars (1977)—John Williams. The first of two scores that made the cut on all four rankings, the rousing arrangements took you to that place far, far away. Composed by one of the most prolific composers of all time, John Williams, you know that any movie he works on will be pure gold.
2. The Pink Panther (1964)—Henry Mancini. The second of the two scores to make the cut on all four rankings. Sexy, jazzy, and playful, this score was a top 10 hit on the Billboard charts.
3. The Godfather (1972)—Nino Rota. Melancholy, with underlying tones of intensity and pure Italian to the core, Rota brought the essence of Mafia mob life into the veins of this score.
4. The Lord of the Rings (2001)—Howard Shore. Gravitating to the days of elves, dwarves, wizards and of course hobbits, the music is as epic as the trilogy.
5. E.T. (The Extra-Terrestrial) (1982)—John Williams. Composed by John Williams. No need to say anything more. But seriously, the music soared in this delightful and feel good movie.
6. Psycho (1960)—Bernard Herrmann. Incorporating an edgy string section as the backdrop, you can’t mentally picture the shower scene in this movie without hearing those shrieking violins in your head too. Once heard, you will never forget.
7. James Bond 007 Theme (1963)—composer John Barry. Big band meets surf rock. The music captured the laid-back debonair super agent’s personality to a tee.
8. The Magnificent Seven (1960)—composer Elmer Bernstein. Great western feel, with the horn section dueling in a showdown with the string section, coming together in perfect harmony.
Honorable mention—Requiem for A Dream (2000)—Clint Mansell. This score just missed the list by that much. But its haunting, deceptively simple melodic voice captured the inevitable tragic ending of the movie’s characters to a fault.
And there you have it, the latest and greatest ranking of the 8 most favorite scores of all time. But this is by no means the final ranking. As long as movies are being made, there will be scores to create. Talented composers are coming up the ranks to make their mark and perhaps become a part of the elite film score composers in cinema history. One such talent is John Jesensky.
John Jesensky is a composer/conductor whose current credits include scores from Twinkies and Donuts and Loveseat to name a few. John received a Bachelor’s of Music in Composition from the Hartt School of Music and a Masters of Music degree from NYU. He has won many prestigious awards including the Elmer Bernstein Award for Film Composition and the Skirball Film Scoring Competition.
John is also the engraver for CineConcerts, where he creates restored film scores for live orchestra performances.