By Simon Miraudo
September 14, 2012
Beasts of the Southern Wild features one of the year’s best - and, this is important, most hummable - musical scores, co-composed by director Benh Zeitlin and Dan Romer. Aural accompaniment can greatly enhance one’s experience of watching a film (or perhaps distract to its detriment), and the score to Beasts may prove divisive, so omnipresent are its New Orleans horns and triumphant strings throughout proceedings. Not for us though. We love it! In honour of its inevitable (fingers crossed) Best Original Score nomination at the 2013 Oscars, we’re sharing our favourite film scores of all time. (Note: we’ve limited one entry per composer, lest the iconic works of Williams, Morricone, and Herrmann alone swamp this thing.) Hit the 'Play' buttons below to have a listen!
10. Up by Michael Giacchino
The most indelible theme of the past few decades comes courtesy of Michael Giacchino, whose delicate strings made buoyant the opening ten minutes of Pixar's miraculous Up, before ultimately breaking our hearts.
9. Rocky by Bill Conti
It may have entered the realm of cliché, but for good reason. Bill Conti's multiple themes from Rocky are among the most stirring in cinema history. Hearing it would inspire you to go fifteen rounds with Apollo Creed too.
8. High Noon by Dimitri Tiomkin
The ticking clock of High Noon is made all the more oppressive thanks to Dimitri Tiomkin's cues. You can picture the pendulum of a grandfather clock swinging all the while.
It may crib liberally from Dario Argento's Goblin soundtracks, but John Carpenter's theme from Halloween is one of the creepiest ever committed to the screen.
6. The Godfather by Nino Rota
Nino Rota's compositions here honour the Italian heritage of its subject without ever seeming like a pandering San Remo knock-off. All these years later, and it hasn't aged a day.
5. The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly by Ennio Morricone
Surely just a mention of this classic spaghetti western has caused Morricone’s signature ear-worm to work its way into your head, so we'll instead bring your attention to a different theme: the one that makes the nail-biting conclusion of the flick all the more intense.
4. Punch Drunk Love by Jon Brion
Brion is a major inspiration for the off-brand plinky-plonky scores now seen in countless quirky indie films, but none compare with his own superlative work, particularly in Paul Thomas Anderson's harmonium-heavy Punch Drunk Love.
3. Star Wars by John Williams
There are almost too many perfectly orchestrated sonic compositions in the Star Wars saga (not to mention throughout the career of hit-maker John Williams). The one that always brings a tear to this writer’s eye is ‘Binary Sunset’ from A New Hope.
2. Vertigo by Bernard Herrmann
Recently named the greatest film ever made by the British Film Institute, and for good reason: Alfred Hitchcock sure knew how to throw a movie together. But much of the credit should go to his regular collaborator Bernard Herrmann, who managed to convey each and every one of the picture’s psychological (and psychosexual) peculiarities. We’re particularly fond of ‘The Dream.’
1. To Kill a Mockingbird by Elmer Bernstein
Robert Mulligan’s To Kill a Mockingbird only ever flirts with the greatness of Harper Lee’s source novel in two instances: Gregory Peck’s performance as Atticus Finch, and Elmer Bernstein’s timeless, haunting, nostalgic little lullaby of a score. Is there a great argument as to why we’ve picked Bernstein’s work here over Herrmann, Williams et al? Not particularly. But just listen to the beautiful strains that open and close the tale of Scout, Jem, Boo Radley, and poor Tom Robinson, and you’ll be hard pressed to make a case against it.