Near, Far, Wherever You Are…

As a fierce movie lover, I also appreciate and adore a beautiful, moving score.  Plus, I’m in the mood to compose a list. 😉  I’ve been thinking about this one for a while, but these are my top 7, in order (!!).  Beware:  Everything described below moved me to tears.

7. Last of the Mohicans (Randy Edelman & Trevor Jones) – This film is magnificent, with music to match.  The sounds convey the terror, grandeur, despair, and hope that the film brings about.  The “Main Title” is stunningly ancient and epic-sounding, and makes my heart feel heavy.

6. The Lord of the Rings trilogy (Howard Shore) – When I hear this music, I feel safe.  There’s no other word to describe it.  As deservedly beloved and just freaking awesome as these films are, their score is every bit as wonderful.  Hopeful, yet dark, the music fills me with the sort of relaxed melancholy that I need to feel every once in a while in order to maintain my sanity.  The Enya tune “May It Be” is gorgeous, and fits with the otherworldly tone of the story.  Tracks like “Concerning Hobbits” immediately fill my head with images of the Shire.  My personal favorite is the graceful and exquisite “The Breaking of the Fellowship”, which never fails to deliver the most spectacular goosebumps.

5. Jurassic Park (John Williams) – Arguably the greatest composer alive today, and certainly the most recognizable and iconic, Williams’ score for this spectacular film (and personal favorite of mine) is, in my opinion, his most delightful and straight up gorgeous work.  I don’t really understand how he didn’t win an Oscar for this one.  It gets across the majesty, the awe, the wonder.  The final scene, as Sam Neill and company fly away from the island and watch the birds flying over the water as the sun sets while the main theme plays, stuns me each and every time.

4. Signs & Lady in the Water (James Newton Howard) – Howard is one of my favorite composers, and he has scored every M. Night Shyamalan film.  These two are the best, I think, although there are devotees for each of the Shyamalan movie soundtracks.  Honestly, the music is one of the very few reasons I liked Lady, but it was so damn arresting, I couldn’t help it.  I cry every single time I hear the disarming and elegant “The Healing.”  “Prologue” and “The Great Eatlon” are also excellent and have been known to activate the waterworks.  As far as Signs goes, I did love the heck out of that movie, and the music captured the “everything happens for a reason” message, and pretty much hit it out of the park.  “The Hands of Fate pt. 2” PERFECTLY evokes a scene where everything makes sense, it all comes together, and you know everything will be okay.  Sweet lord, do I love that track.

3. How To Train Your Dragon (John Powell) – My love for this film is almost irrational, and the same goes for its accompanying score.  There’s no way John Powell could have captured the exhilaration of this story any more perfectly than he did here; it’s THAT GOOD.  “Coming Back Around” and “Test Drive” actually make me feel like I could f***ing fly, and “Romantic Flight” and “Forbidden Friendship” never fail to bring on the choke in the back of my throat.  Hell, I’d walk down the aisle to the latter.  It’s that touching/masterful/enchanting.

2. Rudy (James Newton Howard Jerry Goldsmith) – The only composer on my list to garner two spots, Howard’s Goldsmith’s staggeringly beautiful composition makes me feel that, just like Rudy himself, I can do anything.  Uplifting, hopeful, inspirational, without being sickly sweet or cheesy,  the ten tracks on this relatively short soundtrack all manage to evoke almost every worthwhile human emotion in existence.  He should have won a Nobel Peace Prize for this, or at the very least, an Oscar.  Sadly he got neither, but we, the listeners, are the real winners.  If “The Final Game” (especially the final few minutes) doesn’t make your chest swell with dreams and ambitions, check your pulse, you’re probably dead. *Edit*I was notified by a kindly commenter that I had the wrong maestro listed above; which is both utterly embarrassing and also totally annoying because I’ve had the actual CD since I was 17 and also wrote this post very late at night, in a complete and total daze. I apologize for the discrepancy. 🙂

1. Titanic (James Horner) – Go on and hate.  And then die.  I don’t care – because this stands as my favorite film score.  Ever.  I’ll never forget the first time I heard “My Heart Will Go On”; I’m pretty sure my heart stopped, and it’s one of those moments where you remember what you were doing, where you were, and so on.  I know it’s cheesy, and I know it’s got to be one of the most over-played (and despised) songs in the history of music, but it’s beautiful, plain and simple.  Horner won an Oscar for the song and the overall score, and I think it’s his pinnacle.  And he has quite the resume.  Equal parts tragic and magnificent, I don’t know that I’ve heard anything so hauntingly, devastatingly beautiful.

~Annie

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185 thoughts on “Near, Far, Wherever You Are…

  1. Pingback: The most romantic movie scores of all time. | whythabee

  2. I blog quite often and I seriously thank you for your content.
    The article has truly peaked my interest. I’m going to book mark your website and keep checking for new details about once per week. I subscribed to your Feed as well.

  3. Pingback: All-Time Favorite Film Series – Titanic (3D) | ravingmadscientists

  4. Great list! But my list would slightly differ from yours though… Whilst I would keep ‘Last of the Mohicans’ and ‘Lord of the Rings Trilogy’, the soundtrack of ‘Pride & Prejudice’, ‘There Will Be Blood’, ‘The Virgin Suicide’ and ‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind’ would take higher ranks! But amazing list indeed 🙂

  5. Annie, you have inspired me to come up with a list of my own. Although I am tempted to put Titanic as one of them (I turned into the most annoying eight year old after watching that film and hearing that song. I sang it to the point where fourteen years later the memory of my singing is still engraved in my sister’s mind), I won’t, for you =)
    7.) E.T. theme song
    6.) Up theme song
    5.) Batman returns theme (Danny Elphman)
    4.) Edward Scissor Hands theme (Danny Elphman
    3.) The Dark Knight theme (Hanz Zimmer)
    2.) The Passion of the Christ theme
    1.) Spiderman theme

  6. I am a heavy movie lover. i never have realized that film core could be so beautiful. thanks for your post.
    i have translated your post into Chinese. if you like , i can add a link to your this post.

  7. In terms of scores you can listen to while driving, these definitely make the list. Put into that context, I can’t listen to Alan Silvestri without going 88 miles per hour and screaming “let’s see if these bastards can do 90!” Keep up the blogging and if you are every interested, swing by Life and Art Perspectives sometime. It just started.

  8. Hi there. Saw your post on Freshly Pressed, and as a fellow film fan and film score aficionado, had to check it out. Nice choices. Clearly the post’s visibility has gotten you lots of recommendations from people, and I haven’t read them all, but here are just a few others that I’d suggest, which maybe other people have already mentioned. I’m keeping in mind the criteria that your selections are favorites because they moved you to tears, and these are pieces that I always found emotionally stirring (I’ll note the specific tracks):

    The Thin Red Line (Journey to the Line) – Hans Zimmer
    Field of Dreams (Doc’s Memories, The Place Where Dreams Come True) – James Horner
    An American Tail (Main Titles, Reunited) – James Horner

    From John Williams’ massive catalog, “A Window to the Past” and “Secrets of the Castle,” both from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, are among my favorites in terms of their emotional weight. I’d also highly recommend The Sweet Hereafter, which features both a haunting score by Mychael Danna and equally haunting songs sung by the actress Sarah Polley, who sings some of them in the film.

    Of course, all of these are most impactful if first seen in the context of the movie; like you pointed out, a large part of how you feel about them relates to seeing them in the films themselves. You may know about all of these already, of course. And if not, hopefully you’ll enjoy them even if they don’t become all-time favorites.

    Anyway, cool topic. Here’s to more memorable film scores. They seem to be few and far between these days.

  9. I don’t like to listen to an entire “album” of one artist, so I’ve been collecting move soundtracks and scores since long before it was cool. Definitely Braveheart, Last of the Mohicans, American Beauty, Robin Hood. I can usually tell what my husband is watching from two rooms away because I recognize the score. But I must have been have asleep the night I watched How To Train Your Dragon because I don’t remember the music, so I’m off to purchase it RIGHT NOW!

  10. Congratulations! You have an interesting list here. I’ll have to try out some of the soundtracks that I haven’t heard yet.
    Of course, I have to share too. Some of my favorites are “Out of Africa” – John Barry, “The Natural” – Randy Newman, and “Body Heat” – also John Barry.

  11. I’m a librarian in Atlanta and once did some research from various Internet sites (mostly lists created by others) to determine the “best” movie soundtracks of all time so we could buy them for our branch library. Here are the titles I came up with:

    1492: Conquest of Paradise
    Adventures of Robin Hood, The (Korngold)
    Age of Innocence, The
    Amelie
    American Beauty
    Antonia’s Line
    Atonement
    Band of Brothers
    Beautiful Mind, A
    Ben-Hur
    Beyond Rangoon
    Blade Runner
    Blood Diamond
    Brainstorm (James Horner)
    Braveheart
    Brokeback Mountain
    Chariots of Fire
    Chinatown
    Chronicles of Narnia
    Cider House Rules
    Cinema Paradiso
    Citizen Kane
    Close Encounters of the Third Kind
    Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
    Dances with Wolves
    Dark Crystal, The
    Days of Heaven
    Doctor Zhivago
    Emma
    Empire of the Sun
    Empire Strikes Back, The
    English Patient, The
    Finding Neverland
    Fountain, The (Clint Mansell)
    Fury, The
    Gettysburg
    Girl with the Pearl Earring
    Gladiator
    Glory
    Godfather, The
    Gone with the Wind
    Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, The
    Heavy Metal
    Il Postino
    Koyaanisqatsi
    Krull
    Lagaan
    Last of the Mohicans, The
    Last Temptation of Christ, The (P. Gabriel)
    Laura
    Lawrence of Arabia
    Legend of 1900
    Legends of the Fall (James Horner)
    Little Women (Thomas Newman)
    Lord of the Rings
    Magnificent Seven, The
    Meet Joe Black
    Memoirs of a Geisha
    Mission, The
    Natural, The
    New World, The (James Horner)
    North by Northwest
    Notebook, The
    Once Upon a Time in America
    Once Upon a Time in the West
    Out of Africa
    Pan’s Labyrinth
    Perfect Storm, The
    Pianist, The
    Piano, The
    Picnic
    Planet of the Apes (Jerry Goldsmith)
    Pride and Prejudice (2005)(D. Marianelli)
    Psycho
    Requiem for a Dream
    Road to Perdition
    Sand Pebbles, The
    Schindler’s List
    Shawshank Redemption
    Somewhere in Time
    Spellbound
    Star Wars
    Sweet Hereafter, The
    Thin Red Line, The
    To Kill a Mockingbird
    Twin Peaks (A. Badalamenti)
    Untouchables, The
    Vertigo
    Willow
    Wind and the Lion, The
    Witness
    Wonderland

  12. Agreed with you that the no.1 spot is the theme song of Titanic.The first time I heard Celine Dion sang that song, I was hooked. That had sank deep in my heart ,it symbolized to be thankful for small mercies and to move on.Whenever I am stressed I will played that song.

  13. sooreneccs says:
    July 29,2011

    Agreed with you that the No.1 spot is the theme song from Titanic.The first time I heard Celine Dion sang it ,I was hooked.That song symbolize for me to be thankful for small mercies,keep
    it and move on.It had sank deep in my mind and heart that whenever i am stressed I will played that song.Thanks for a awesome post.

  14. Good list, I’ll check out the ones I haven’t heard. To me The Dark Knight, Inception and the Second Pirates of the Caribbean movie were incredible. I bought the first and last as soon as I heard them. A good score can change everything. Kill Bill had some great music and the Spider Man 2 trailer was so good I watched it 7X in a row. One issue I don’t like is not getting all the moments in the movie. Inception had the incredible fog horn, but only one track of the score featured the fog horns. How unfortunate.

  15. Oh so fun to read your well-written post and the awesome and varied comments! YES to John Williams! … Dances With Wolves, The MIssion, Gladiator…. Congrats on being FP.

    Don’t you think that some of our favorite movie scores come from films that moved us deeply when we watched them for the first time? For example, Star Wars III, Man From Snowy River, and St. Elmo’s Fire immediately came to mind as I was reading your post. But I wasn’t sure whether I love these sound tracks because I fell in love with the movies as a teenager and then listened to the music over and over again or if it’s because it’s good music. I need to go back and listen again with a more critical ear. (Of course, my original heart-pull will probably color my objectivity, no matter how hard I try.)

    Then there are those scores that move us despite the movie, as many have pointed out in their comments, and finally, those whose ingenious scores enhance an already amazing movie (LOTR, HTTYD). Haven’t seen Lady in the Water yet.

    Aaah, now my kids are in front of the TV, and I’m going to enjoy all your links…. A BIG Thank you to the composers out there who bring beauty to our senses!

    • Thanks for your awesome comment! I agree that so many movies blow you away so immediately, and perhaps that causes you to love the music, but then again, I really did not like Lady in the Water, and I remember just thinking that the music was fantastic. However it all works, I’m so glad it does, because I ADORE a great film score.

  16. Thanks for sharing your favorites, however, they are so HOLLYWOOD! What about great movies like:
    La Dolce Vita
    Fellini 81/2
    Casablanca
    The unbearable lightness if being
    La Vita e Bella
    The red Lantern (chinese)
    to name only a few!
    GOsee and enjoy some international exposure and……..education.

  17. In no particular order:
    Working Girl
    Chariots of Fire
    Blade Runner
    Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
    House of Flying Daggers
    Dancing with Wolves
    Unforgiven
    Bridges of Madison County
    🙂

  18. This is a good list. A nice mix of film scores. There are just too many great scores to include in a short list like this, but one guy that everyone should check out is Ennio Morricone. He wrote the score for films like The Mission and The Untouchables. Also, check out Nino Rota’s Godfather music as its a beautiful example of music that captures a national identity.

  19. I fully support you on the love of Titanic–score AND movie! Also, I generally dislike Celine but would donate a kidney if it resulted in seeing her sing that song live.

    • thanks for sharing some Titanic love, as it is exceedingly rare!!!! Fun fact: the first concert I ever went to, EVER, was Celine, at Gund Arena in Cleveland, and it was during the Titanic craze, so she TOTALLY ended the show on this huge heart shaped boat that rose out of the stage and she sang the song up at the bow of the ship with her hair blowing around and everything!! My 18 year old self was definitely sobbing, haha. It was a pretty awesome night! Thanks for the comment!!

      • Amazing response. As far as the sobbing goes, I would have been right there with you! Haha. Speaking of firsts, I just started my first ever blog — and would be honored if you had the time to give ‘er a glance! ctnick.wordpress.com

  20. As someone here already pointed out, I’m also disappointed not to see Pirates of the Caribbean make the list.
    But Rudy… I haven’t seen that movie in ages, thanks for bringing that into the mix. Will need to watch it again soon and focus more on the music.

    Congratulations on FP.

  21. Definitely agree with “Jurassic Park”! I had a film professor who used to play movie soundtracks as we walked into the classroom and see who could name them correctly – #5, 6 and 7 made several appearances!

  22. Doing music for film is such a special calling and I don’t think the people who compose for movies get enough credit. Just saw To Kill a Mockingbird with my film club last night – one of the great Elmer Bernstein’s best! I highly recommend it!

  23. I’m surprised there is no appearance by Alan Silvestri of Back to the Future fame. That soundtrack gets stuck in my head once a month at the very least.

    I’m also wondering if Jerry Goldsmith would make your top ten. Before there was a John Williams, the world left theaters humming tunes by the late, great Mr. Goldsmith including The Great Escape and several Star Trek films that managed to sound both epic and intimate depending on the tone needed for the scene.

    In any event, I’m just happy to see some light shed upon great film composers as they so often go unnoticed. After all, if you don’t notice the music, then the composer did his job in creating a comprehensive creative project.

    PS– Hans Zimmer has been doing an amazingly diverse group of work the past few years from Inception to Madagascar 2. I think he understands the role of the composer quite well. What say you?

    • I LOVE Alan Silvestri’s Forrest Gump score, but I don’t listen to that very much. I tried to make this list just my favorite ones, that I listen to with some frequency. Unfortunately, I flubbed this list and have James Newton Howard scoring Rudy, when actually Jerry Goldsmith did. I wrote this very late one night and must have been in a mental fog!!!! I’m a huge fan of his Star Trek stuff… especially the Next Generation theme song. 🙂 I think Hans Zimmer is also pretty amazing; Gladiator has a fantastic score, but again, I don’t find myself always seeking it out on the ol’ ipod. Inception had a phenomenal score that fit with the film so well, I just don’t really want to listen to that when I’m driving. haha. Thanks so much for the comment!!!!!

  24. I haven’t watch any of those except for The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, How to Train Your Dragon, Titanic and Jurrasic Park. I don’t really remember Jurrasic Park anymore since I watched it back when I was in kindergarten and I remembered hiding behind my mother’s back because I felt so terrified seeing those dinosaurs, hahaha. But I’m totally with you for The Lord of the Rings trilogy, How to Train Your Dragon and Titanic! Awesome post! One song that I never forget is the “Edge of Night” sang by Pippin!

  25. I agree with 7,6 and 5. I’ve not seen the other movies. But Titanic – how could you. It’s horrible – the movie, the acting, the music, yuck. Having said that, I’d like to add Karate Kid

  26. What? No Empire Strikes Back? The best offering of the best composer in movie history. I’m glad you give John Williams a little love, though.

    • ESB is an incredible score. The track that plays when Yoda raises Luke’s ship from the swamp always gives me goose bumps.

  27. John Williams has got to be one of my favorite movie composers of all time. His work is that of a complete genius!

  28. Carter Burwell’s scores are some of the most creative and interesting ones around. John Williams, IMHO, hasn’t been good in years. Silvestri’s score for “Castaway” is well-done–understated, simple and a nice accompaniment to the film. I still don’t get why everyone is so high on Elfman and Williams, even Barry. I spent years working in the movie biz and never understood the fascination with those two.

  29. This post made my day – I’m SO happy to see a fellow fan of James Newton Howard and also of Goldsmith’s Rudy. I echo your sentiments exactly about Lady in the Water.

    As a fellow Howard fan, I must recommend Snow Falling on Cedars. See the movie, too. This is perhaps Howard’s absolute finest work – though I would put Lady in the Water, Signs, The Village, and Dinosaur very close behind. I really can’t describe this album with words – and this coming from a writer.

    So glad to see some shared appreciation of films scores! Thanks for posting.

    • Thanks for your comment!!! It makes my day to know my post made your day. 🙂 I have never seen Cedars (tho it’s in my netflix queue…but what isn’t, really?). I will be sure to pay attention to the score.

  30. Pingback: The most romantic movie scores of all time. « The Pattie Project

  31. Congrats on being FP.

    As a vintage film buff, I lean toward Bernard Herrmann, Alfred Newman, Franz Waxman, Erich Korngold, Miklos Rosza, Jerome Moross, and others. Recently heard a score by a composer I wasn’t aware of, Frederick Steiner, in the mid-1950s thriller Run for the Sun, that was very impressive. And then I opened the newspaper and discovered his obit.

    A few oldies I love: The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, Vertigo, The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad (Herrmann); The Bravados, Captain From Castile, Leave Her to Heaven, David and Bathsheba, The Robe (Alfred Newman); A Place in the Sun, Tara Bulba, The Invisible Ray, The Bride of Frankenstein, Demetrius and the Gladiators, Peyton Place (Waxman); Robin Hood, The Sea Hawk, Anthony Adverse (Korngold); Ben-Hur, King of Kings, El Cid, Brute Force, Lust for Life (Rozsa); The Big Country, The Warlord (Moross).

    Just don’t see many contemporary movies so I can’t comment on your choices, but I recommend all of the above most heartily. Especially The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, if you like being moved to tears. In fact–a mind-bending musical and dramatic double feature would be The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, scored by Herrmann, and Leave Her to Heaven, scored by Newman, which both star Gene Tierney in roles that are on opposite sides of the moral spectrum.

    • The Ghost and Mrs. Muir is one of my mom’s favorite films, I remember us watching it when I was a kid; however I don’t really remember anything about it!! I do really enjoy classic films, I just don’t make enough time to watch them! I will be sure to check some of these out!

      • Yeah, and I’m that way with contemporary films, just too much Turner Classic Movies and no room for what’s new!

        Another cool score: Dimitri Tiomkin’s LAND OF THE PHARAOHS, on TCM just the other night. Great triumphal march of the Pharaoh into the city after one of his big wars. And a super-campy young Joan Collins performance as an evil princess.

  32. Perhaps my absolute favorite is How to Train your Dragon. I was sad that it did not win for best soundtrack. 😦 I am anxious to hear what the Les Miserables movie will be like when it comes out. It is my favorite musical soundtrack!

    • Batman was fantastic, for sure. Wayyy iconic and beloved, I just have never found myself wanting to listen to it in the car or anything. Danny Elfman is a great composer; I probably listen to him more. I REALLY liked his Alice in Wonderland score last year.

  33. You have magnificent taste…those are among my favorites as well. (Another great one which you left off your list is Hans Zimmer and Lisa Gerard’s score for “Gladiator.”) Congrats on being FP as well!

  34. I have many of the scores that you have listed. Great scores! But I must admit the three tracks you listed for Lady in the Water by Newton Howard are ALWAYS in heavy rotation on my iPod. I love those tracks. I also love The Party and Walkie Talkies. I am a huge fan of Newton Howard and have many of his scores. Even The Last Airbender. I also think King Kong is incredible especially Beautiful and Central Park. Thanks for your list!

  35. This is great couldn’t agree more with the Lord of the Rings! Beautiful. You should also listen to Amelie’s done by Yann Tierson aswell as the Painted Veil score.

  36. Scores are kind of a weird thing for me as someone who does more modern music than film scores.

    Scores have this ability to immediately remind the listener of the scene, which I think definitely reinforces the enjoyment of the music. There’s always interesting discussions about the “validity” of that aspect of the music, and I’d even say that it’s a different kind of listening than say, listening to Stockhausen or Gubaidulina.

  37. Check out also the soundtrack to Out of Africa… one of the most romantic and beautiful scores ever in my opinion. I’m with you- I also loved Titanic! I don’t understand the backlash at all….

  38. Congrats on being Freshly Pressed! I completely agree about the Jurassic Park soundtrack – it is amazing how the trumpets make my heart soar. Now I have to get out and listen to some Howard, I’m not familiar with his stuff. Thanks!

  39. Pretty good, but you gotta have some Hans Zimmer and action! What about the batmans, Back to the Future… Inception? But I like your picks… Fun post.

  40. Oh, Jurassic Park. I remember holding up a cassette recorder to the television so I could record the soundtrack as a kid.

    Apollo 13, Gladiator, and Love Actually are other scores that bring back fond memories and even shed a tear. Nice list!

  41. Nice post. Agree wholeheartedly LOTR score. God. That is an awesome piece of music.

    ALSO, the score of Kickass AND the Social Network be amazing. If you have the time, go check out John Murphy’s Adagio in D minor. I’m sure you will love it. 🙂

  42. I, too, would go in the opposite direction, putting your bottom three somewhere near my top. However, I cannot hear the score to JP now without singing that stupid parody, “Holy F*%&$*# S*$#, It’s a Dinosaur.” Don’t go look for it; it will just ruin the original for you. The LOTR score is fabulous, but the cherry on the top of it was the Annie Lennox song, “Into the West” that graced the final film’s credits. Amazing, amazing song that just fills me with longing.

    As a French horn player, I was also partial to the score for Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, and I adored the opening song of the HBO miniseries, John Adams. Great choices, and congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

    • OMGoodness… I LOVE the John Adams Opening Titles by Rob Lane!!!!!! ONE OF MY FAVORITES!!!! 🙂 🙂 Man, the best thing about this Freshly Pressed business is finding others with similar tastes, and also hearing so many suggestions of new stuff to check out. I love only one thing about Prince of Thieves: Alan Rickman. 🙂
      PS: I liked May it Be more than Into the West, but Annie Lennox still rules. 😉

  43. Great subject, I especially love the Jurassic Park score. You might give a listen to Terence Blanchard’s score for 25th Hour, it’s really beautiful. Nice post!

  44. I think I knew every name on your list, but where’s Hans Zimmer? Generally his name goes alongside Newton Howard, Horner, and Shore…

  45. My favorite score by James Newton Howard is The Village, a lot of the movie soundtracks you mention were in movies that I never saw or I’ve seen them when I was little so I don’t remember them =(. But I will agree with you that James Newton Howard makes beautiful soundtrack.

  46. Thanks for a wonderful post! I’m so glad to know I’m not the only person who is crazy beyond all reason for “How to Train Your Dragon.” As tears welled in my eyes during my umpteenth viewing, I realized that the score was a key part of my response to the film. The breathtaking visual composition, the amazing character development (especially of Toothless), and the poignant story all play into it, but the soaring music (all puns intended) completely sweeps me along.

    I especially agree with you about John Williams, as well; the theme from “Jurassic Park” always brings tears to my eyes, with or without visuals.

    One other score I find deeply moving is from “Crimson Tide,” a tense, submarine-based thriller with over-the-top performances by Gene Hackman and Denzel Washington. The Navy Hymn, sung by a heavily male chorus, is used to excellent effect, underscoring the dangers of work at sea and the hopes and fears of those who wait on shore. The soundtrack album is a little weird for listening at points, but it practically constitutes a character all its own in the film.

  47. I urge every music lover, movie fan, and soundtrack freak to listen to the Conan The Barbarian soundtrack. You don’t have to watch the movie, the soundtrack alone is god-like.

  48. I have my favorite movie composers—John Barry; Jerry Goldsmith; John Williams; David Arnold; and several of the Newman family including Alfred, Lionel, and Randy.

    Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed today. That happened to me for about a 48-hour period starting Tuesday about noon and ending a few hours ago. Hope you get a huge boost out of it.

  49. LOTR and Jurassic Park themes are and always will be embedded in my memory as long as I live. My hope is that it will be past on from generation to generation because it is our modern day Mozart and Beethoven.

  50. So refreshing to read some criticism that doesn’t adopt a detached, knowing and holier-than-thou tone, but actually presents with enthusiasm, the emotional reasons for liking something. I don’t know how ‘objectivity’ and a cynical cool came to totally dominate criticism of the arts, but am glad to read some well-reasoned opinions of why a particular piece of art is moving. An obvious choice, but I would also add for my 2c Ry Cooder’s work of genius on Paris Texas for a sublime marrying of image and music.

  51. Fabulous choices! I’d be hard pressed to pick my all-time favorite soundtracks–I go through phases. Right now I am particularly fond of Edward Scissorhands, The Last Airbender, and Angels & Demons. My previous phase was Van Helsing, Star Trek (the most recent movie), Dragonheart, and Lady in the Water. =)

  52. but, but–what about Pirates of the Caribbean? (one of my faves…)
    your post got me to thinking!
    blessings, and congrats on FP!
    jane

  53. Ah Ah Ah!
    I never thought I would find someone with as great of a taste in movie scores as I do!
    Great list!
    I am almost tempted to plagiarize! 🙂

    ~Marie

  54. I find myself humming the main theme of Jurassic Park quite often, it’s an amazing piece of work. Also, I think it was at Disneyland where they had the Jurassic Park ride or one of the theme parks and most of it’s greatness was attributed to the main theme being played throughout the ride. Loved it. Good post and congrats on FP!

    • I believe the Jurassic Park ride is at Universal Studios. There IS a dinosaur ride (Countdown to Extinction) at Disneyworld’s Animal Kingdom, but I don’t think there is one at Disneyland.

  55. Pingback: Movie Music « Thoughts & Theories

  56. You know I could begin with all of the kneejerk comments on how you missed Jerry Goldsmith or Hans Zimmer — and since us nerds can smel lour own I am also surprised that you didn’t mention the totally underated Safan (The Last Starfighter) — but seriously? Titanic and Horner? If you had even said Horner and Braveheart or Horner and Aliens, but Titanic? Yeesh. In any case Great Post! I love that it gave me motion picture score induced haterade to drink!

  57. Wonderful list — and I COMPLETELY agree with No. 1!! A good quarter of my iTunes library is James Horner. He’s a film score god in my book. Like the commenter above, I also adore P & P 2005’s score; it probably comes in 2nd for me.

  58. Nice list. I love music and do these lists a lot with albums, but never thought of doing it with movie soundtracks!! I’d say a few of my favorite scores from a movie are, off the top of my head and in no particular order, Indiana Jones, The Last Starfighter, LOTR, Star Trek VI, Batman.

    I did a post on my Top 11 “Island Albums”. I’d love to hear what you think!

    http://randrumins.wordpress.com/

  59. This is an awesome topic. I love to collect my favorites into a playlist on You Tube.
    I’m with you on the LOTR. “Breaking of the Fellowship” is something I put on to lull me to sleep. I’m out before the middle of the song. I would add to this list “Fargo” (the sound is not exactly soothing, but there’s power especially in the main them…actually anything by Carter Burwell I enjoy), and I just watched “The Boy in the Stripped Pajamas” and the music has this subtle power to it. I still need to see “How to Train Your Dragon” (I know, so behind the times 😉

    • You will not regret checking out HTTYD. I can’t remember the music to Fargo – I’ll have to re-visit. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is amazing, and haunting. I’ll never forget that movie, man.

  60. OMG, I totally agree with the irrational love of How to Train Your Dragon. I have Forbidden Friendship as a ringtone/alarm on my phone, I nicknamed my car Toothless (I have a Mazda 3…the front end looks JUST LIKE him) and I watch it way too often. The score is just beautiful, and listening to it makes me want to watch the movie again.

    Another favorite not on your list is Legends of the Fall, but in terms of “moving me to tears” hands down the winner is Platoon, because it has Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings on it. Other close winners are Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the track “Cedric Dies” and Order of the Phoenix’s “Possession.”

    • Sarah, I love you! Forbidden Friendship is just so amazing, I don’t even know what to do with myself. I would burst into tears every time my phone rang!! haha. My cat actually looks (and acts) a lot like Toothless, although it would rock if my car looked like him too. HAHA. Harry Potter is win, win, win. I have a ton of posts in here devoted to the series. Check ’em out if you’re interested. 🙂 “Obliviate” from the Deathly Hallows pt. 1 soundtrack is GORGEOUSSSSSS.

  61. I agree with all of these! But I would suggest listening to the Edward Scissorhands film score done by Danny Elfman. It’s awesome. A good soundtrack can make a bad movie loveable and a bad soundtrack can make a good movie unwatchable.

  62. I think I would have to add The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe to the list as well!

    As for your top fav, yeah, I understand what you mean about your heart stopping as you remembered where you were, etc., but it is just such a horrible song. I know. I’m a hater. 😉

  63. Interesting. Personally, I’m really passionate about the score to the terrible film The Time Machine. Klaus Badelt did son really amazing orchestration and the score really tells the story better than the movie. I guess that’s not hard, but it’s a great piece to listen to on its own, and a lot of fun.

  64. Among numerous others, I’d add:
    Dances With Wolves
    The Piano
    Pride and Prejudice
    Schindler’s List
    Master and Commander

  65. I love fast-themed scores usually like in “Requiem for a Dream” by Hans Zimmer. But the first time I watched “How to Train Your Dragon,” I was arrested by the music. It does feel like flying. It feels fantastic.

  66. I LOVE the scores for LOTR and How to Train Your Dragon! The three you named from LOTR are some (if not my top) favorites. Samwise the Brave is another. I’m so glad Howard Shore is doing The Hobbit score. The soundtrack for TRON: Legacy has been growing on me lately. Ever After and Stardust have great scores as well.
    Great post!

    http://tehcatspajamas.wordpress.com/

  67. Personally I think the soundtrack that Daft Punk wrote for Tron Legacy far outshone the film, its one of the best I’ve heard for a while. Also I’m a big fan of the orchestrated sections in Iron Man, mostly because theyre arrangements of the theme tune from the 60’s cartoon!

    • OMG OMG YES to Tron: Legacy. I bought that the day it came out, and I think it’s pretty frickin’ excellent. It just wasn’t one of my all-time faves. That music pretty much made that film. I was really sad it didn’t get nominated for an Oscar.

  68. How to Train Your Dragon was a BRILLIANT film on so many levels — glad to find a like-minded fan out there in the blogosphere!

    And I will reluctantly admit that “My Heart will go on” still brings a tear if I’m in the right (read: desperate, sad, PMS-ing) mood. It’s absolutely TRAGIC.

    Great list!

    • Thanks for your awesome comment. 🙂 I LOVE when I find other people who love HTTYD.. haha. It’s just SO. GOOD. And don’t be ashamed of the tears shed for Celine. You’re not alone! 😉

  69. I can agree with your sentiments on #1. I’ve actually only watched Titanic once (I think I was 13 or14 when it came out, not a movie many guys want to watch at that age) but even now I can appreciate that song greatly. There are many good songs that are very popular that you’ll never hear again more than 2 years later, and then there are songs that will hold up forever. While the song was definitely overplayed while the movie was out, I think that the song will definitely be one you can still listen to 20-30 years from now.

  70. Hi! I love the name of your blog, it’s so awesome. Because I’m a science student myself. And my roommate is too 🙂
    I LOVE the score for How to Train Your Dragon – we just watched that movie again last night. It never gets old.
    I also love Pride and Prejudice…I think it’s my favorite movie ever. I just love the score and everything about it.

  71. Although I can get a little sick of Danny Elfman…. his Edward Scissorhands score is great! I’m also partial to Alan Silvestri’s Back to the Future soundtrack. B)

  72. I don’t know if you mean only original scores, but Clockwork Orange is pretty epic. Good choices (except the Titanic thing 🙂

  73. Love them all! I didn’t get into film scores until the Harry Potter movies came out (shocker), but thanks to Pandora I have been opened up to an entirely new genre of music!

  74. Last of the Mohicans is one of my favorite movies of all time, one of the reasons is for the extremely amazing soundtrack, I’m glad that made your list!

    I have yet to see How to Train your Dragon so I’m definitely going to give that go as soon as possible! Thanks!

  75. Kick-ass post, Annie! Your 7 & 6 would be my 2 & 3, respectively. And Dances With Wolves would be a close 4. Number 1 has to be 2005’s “Pride & Prejudice.” I NEVER get sick of hearing it. 🙂
    ~N.

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