Music may very well be one of the most influential mediums of all time, so it is no surprise that the music in films can sometime be almost as powerful as the films themselves and a film without music is, in my opinion, not complete. Everyone already knows that John Williams and James Horner are great composers and that all the classic and Disney soundtracks will live on forever, however for this reason, I’ve decided not to include some of the more obvious soundtracks in my list. Instead here are my personal favorites: the soundtracks that give me chills and their composers who are nothing short of brilliant.
10. Seven Pounds by Angelo Milli
Will Smith is a majorly underestimated actor. I feel that people still see him as a comedian when in reality he is a very talented dramatic actor, and Seven Pounds may just be his best performance. This is an absolutely beautiful, tragic, and touching movie. Beautifully acted, beautifully shot, beautifully edited, and of course beautifully scored. Angelo Milli creates a beautiful and fitting soundtrack that perfectly compliments and matches the film itself.
Bonus track: Included in the movie, yet sadly excluded from the soundtrack’s CD is a song by Ennio Morricone from The Mission.
9. Pride & Prejudice by Dario Marianelli
From the first moment of this movie, the soundtrack is established, instantly ensnaring and captivating the audience with the simple yet romantic and lovely piano solo. The piano, my personal favorite instrument, remains a constant throughout much of the film, only giving way to driving and melancholy orchestral string movements that hold up to the film’s beauty and emotion.
8. Meet Joe Black by Thomas Newman
I cannot say enough good things about Thomas Newman. This soundtrack was one of the first I fell in love with and one of the first ones that I actually wanted to own. Sweet strings and delicate, whistful piano are what Newman is known for, and he utilizes them perfectly to harmonize with the often sad themes of the films he scores.
7. Shawshank Redemption by Thomas Newman
Newman incorporates his signature sounds with epic, triumphant swells in the Shawshank Redemption soundtrack. However, he still goes back to the piano in a slow, haunting tune that is gorgeous in all its simplicity.
6. The Horse Whisperer by Thomas Newman
Another soundtrack that was one of the first that I fell in love with and one that furthered my appreciation for Thomas Newman. Newman draws from more rustic inspirations and grits up the violin. He also adds more winds, and guitar which all come together in beautiful harmony.
5. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King by Howard Shore
All of the Lord of the Rings soundtracks in my opinion compete with John Williams’ to be some of the most epic and well known soundtracks of all time. Howard Shore pulls out all the stops. Vocals, drums, winds, strings, various foley effects all combine to create a soundtrack to some of the most epic films of our time. Shore, while sticking to the main theme of the trilogy, continues to add themes throughout the films, creating a stunningly beautiful and cohesive soundtrack that, like the films, will live on forever.
4. The Village by James Newton Howard
When utilized correctly, the violin is my second favorite classical instrument. And James Newton Howard’s soundtrack to The Village is a perfect example of the type of violin that I love. As a broken down and never very good violinist, this soundtrack made me want to be a better violinist. The sweepingly intricate strings of notes in this soundtrack raise goosebumps every time and when paired with a piano morph into a hauntingly sweet melody that is guaranteed to stir emotion.
3. Amelie by Yann Tiersen
Along with being playful, this soundtrack is also melancholy, uplifting, and just flat out beautiful; much like Amelie itself. Yann Tiersen has fun utilizing chimes, bells, piano, accordion, and strings to create a lovely and so delightfully French soundtrack.
2. American Beauty by Thomas Newman
I had real trouble not placing this soundtrack in the #1 spot. The piano is so very gorgeous and the synths are so very relaxing and ambient; Thomas Newman is written all over this soundtrack. I only saw American Beauty for the first time a couple years ago and immediately I completely fell in love with it as well as the soundtrack. Newman once again uses piano to stir the ponderous and deep emotions that American Beauty demands its audience to experience.
1. Inception by Hans Zimmer
Hans Zimmer. My god, what an ingeniously diverse composer he is. For the Inception soundtrack he uses everything from epic orchestral strings and winds to soft piano solos. The soundtrack is just genius and I personally can’t listen to it without smiling. This track below is what I think won Inception the #1 spot on this list. It is so beautiful and calming yet at the same time, hopeful and epic and it just feels like a journey is being completed when you listen to it; it is my favorite song from an altogether stunning soundtrack.
I’d also like to give a positive mention to V for Vendetta, Gladiator, Sherlock Holmes, The Dark Knight, Beauty and the Beast, The Fall, and The Count of Monte Cristo (2oo2).