Variety’s Ten Greatest Scores

In a recent music-centric article, Variety polled 40 composers about the best scores of all time. The article also contains nice tidbits about this year’s Oscar race – including write-ups about Benh Zeitlin’s “Gumbo” style in Beast of the Southern Wild and Jonny Greenwood’s strings sounds in The Master – along with nice information about legendary scores of yesteryear. The accumulated list is not surprisingly saturated with the big four of Bernard Herrmann, Ennio Morricone, Jerry Goldsmith, and John Williams. The four make up 9 of the total 11 films cited.

1. “The Mission” (Ennio Morricone, 1986)
2.“E.T.” (John Williams, 1982)
3. “Psycho” (Bernard Herrmann, 1960)
4. “The Shawshank Redemption” (Thomas Newman, 1994)
5. “Star Wars” (John Williams, 1977)
=6. “Lawrence of Arabia” (Maurice Jarre, 1962)
=6. “Once Upon a Time in the West” (Ennio Morricone, 1968)
8. “Chinatown” (Jerry Goldsmith, 1974)
=9. “The Empire Strikes Back” (John Williams, 1980)
=9. “Planet of the Apes” (Jerry Goldsmith, 1968)
=9. “Vertigo” (Bernard Herrmann, 1958)

The only mild surprise is The Shawkshank Redemption by Thomas Newman listed at #4. While this score isn’t often mentioned amongst the pantheon, its inclusion seems appropriate given Newman’s increased influence on contemporary compositions in the past two decades. Since The Shawshank Redemption (continuing to move up towards the top of major American movie polls in every way) bowed, Newman’s brand of nostalgic quirk has replaced Williams’ soaring scope as the go-to sound for many Hollywood films; especially those looking for a little more “flavor.”

Morricone’s the only one of the major composers on the list to never win an Academy Award (5 noms). He received an honorary Oscar in 2007.

See Also:
Those Oscar Missed: Best Original Score
OSCAR FORECAST: Best Original Score 2013

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