ScoreKeeper's Top Ten Film Scores of 2010!!!
Greetings! ScoreKeeper here wondering where in the world I placed my 2010. I could've sworn it was here just a minute ago. All I have is this shiny new 2011. There's no way I could've finished 2010! Is it just me or does 2011 sound especially futuristic?
Enough of this nonsense! Let's get down to business...
I'm not going to Gene Krupa around the bush here. I know that you know that I know that 2010 was not a particularly stellar year for movies. It ended up remarkably improved from whence it began; however, we're not going to be reminiscing on 2010 like it was another 1960, 1982, or 1993.
Even though it was a moderately lackluster year, there were hundreds of hours of music composed every single day by thousands of composers across the globe. When you traverse such vast fields, you're certain to harvest some quality fruit.
I wholly realize there are copious amounts of new film music out there which remains unknown to me. I'm not pretending to admit I came close to absorbing it all. Quite the contrary. I'm surprised how small the sliver truly was; however, I am a passionate lover of film music with a voracious appetite and this list represents the best of what I experienced.
As for 2010...I won't bad-mouth you anymore. You did good. There are scores wrought during the last twelve months that will remain with me the rest of my film-music-loving life and I'm sure I'll continue to unearth a scattering of scores that I missed.
To every composer who penned a score in 2010, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Every one of you, from the Oscar-winning A-list composer to the greenhorn who just scored their first student film, should be commended for your contribution to this marvelous craft. My passion deeply appreciates your efforts and I personally thank you.
Without further adieu, I present my ten for '10!
10. ALICE IN WONDERLAND (2010) by Danny Elfman - I'm an ardent admirer of Danny Elfman's diversity and eclecticism as a film composer. No one composing for the cinema today rivals his agility, inventiveness, and penchant for pursuing a variety of projects. As Elfman's musical journey continues to evolve it's always gratifying when he returns home for a spell.
ALICE IN WONDERLAND (2010) is the recapitulation of nearly two decades of artistic development. It's a return to a familiar style from earlier in Elfman's career when he first crafted his signature sound with scores including PEE-WEE'S BIG ADVENTURE (1985), BEETLEJUICE (1988), BATMAN (1989), and EDWARD SCISSORHANDS (1990).
There's a treasure trove of musical ingredients in ALICE IN WONDERLAND worth relishing spearheaded by the adorable yet creepy "Alice's Theme." I particularly love the contrast between Alice in her own world in comparison to her entrance into Wonderland. As is typical in a Tim Burton fantasy, the "real" world is portrayed as dull, melancholy, and uninviting while the fantasy world is its mirror image. Elfman has always been able to capture the disparity between the two with expert precision and he does so here as well.
ALICE IN WONDERLAND offers a rich tapestry of kaleidoscopic color, a parade of quirky characters, and a comprehensive spectrum of human emotion. It's the quintessential Elfman playground which his music so eloquently evokes.
The score for ALICE IN WONDERLAND was released on CD by Walt Disney Records (D000490002) and is available for purchase at Amazon.com. It is also available as a digital download via iTunes.
9. HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON (2010) by John Powell - Slowly but surely, John Powell continues to penetrate deeper into the signature of my film music radar. Although I'm still not completely smitten with his work overall, I find his contributions to Dreamworks' animation to be especially miraculous. BOLT (2008) flaunts an infectious theme while his spectacular work on KUNG FU PANDA (2008) with Hans Zimmer may be the pinnacle of his achievement to date.
HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON (2010) certainly continues Powell's tradition of conjuring super-melodious, thickly orchestrated, high-octane music to complement amazing animation. This fan-favorite and critic darling is worth noticing and deserves every accolade it commands.
The primary aspect of Powell's music that prevents me from embracing it whole-heartedly is as Emperor Joseph II quipped to Mozart in AMADEUS (1984), "there are simply too many notes." It was an absurd statement in the movie and indeed I recognize it comes across that way here too; however, I find so many great Powell ideas are clouded or muddled with so much aural gunk that they aren't allowed to be fully expressed. Bigger, louder, thicker, and faster does not automatically make a great film score no matter how impressive it may sound to our ears. I'm a fanatic junkie of "less-is-more" which also pertains to extreme large scale orchestral composition. Add what is needed to satisfy the intended expression of the musical idea and nothing more. Keep it lean. Too many ingredients can spoil the most attractive flavor of the dish.
I'd like to tell Powell, "just cut a few notes and it will be perfect," at which point he may reply, "Which few did you have in mind, Majesty?"
Ah, yes. Maybe it is absurd.
The score for HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON was released on CD by Varèse Sarabande (302 067 012 2) and is available for purchase at Amazon.com. It is also available as a digital download via iTunes.
8. NEVER LET ME GO (2010) by Rachel Portman - If you compose an intimate emotionally-infused chamber score packed to the hilt with expressive instrumental solos which seem so fragile your mere breath risks knocking them out of the sky, you'll amass my unwavering adoration.
That's exactly what Rachel Portman has accomplished with her heart-wrenchingly painful score for NEVER LET ME GO (2010). I find these types of scores to be the most intimidating. They're unforgivingly exposed and the slightest minuscule change in the music brings upon immensely disparate results. When executed with the same surgical precision achieved by Portman with this score, it becomes inevitable that I will succumb to its mystical conjuration. This score is absolutely sublime.
The score for NEVER LET ME GO was released on CD by Varèse Sarabande (302 067 043 2) and is available for purchase at Amazon.com. It is also available as a digital download via iTunes.
7. 13 ASSASSINS (2010) by Kôji Endô - If somebody approached me and asked the question, "Mr. ScoreKeeper...what kind of scores do you like?" I would look fondly upon them and answer sweetly, "Well my child, that's easy. I enjoy scores like 13 ASSASSINS by Kôji Endô."
Actually my passion for film music is extraordinarily broad and encompasses a cornucopia of styles, flavors, and approaches too numerous to categorize; however, there is something about this particular score that resonates with me on a profound personal level.
I saw this film at FANTASTIC FEST back in September and to say I was blown away is an understatement. This epic samurai tale, directed by Takashi Miike, evokes the spirit of Akira Kurosawa unlike any film born from his influence. To counter-complement the visuals, Endô composed a score of unparalleled restraint and I was often surprised where there wasn't music (a characteristic I often rely upon to further assess a composer's skill at scoring films).
Composed primarily for string orchestra with some intermittent percussion punctuation, Endô's score avoids the presumptive inclusion of blatant traditional Japanese folk elements. Listening to the score out of context, you wouldn't automatically assume that this accompanied an ancient Japanese tale. Although it is present, the cultural references are buried deep within the subtext of the music.
Having lived in Japan for nearly four years, I'm particularly biased toward the Japanese aesthetic and Endô's music is the quintessence of its strongest characteristics: reverence, transient beauty, simplicity, honor, and profound grace and subtlety. It's a phenomenal score for a film that should not be missed.
The score for 13 ASSASSINS was released on CD by Warner Music Japan (WPCL-10873) and is available for purchase at Amazon.co.jp (Japan) or YesAsia.com. It is not currently available as a digital download (as far as I can tell. If I'm wrong, please let me know).
6. BLACK SWAN (2010) by Clint Mansell - We don't treat adapted scores with the same respect and admiration as we do original scores and that's a shame. There's an intrinsic skill inherent to adapting previously composed music much like there is adapting previously written works into a screenplay.
What Aronofsky faithful Clint Mansell and arranger Matt Dunkley pulled off with BLACK SWAN is miraculous, yet it's not going to reap nearly as much public attention as it deserves simply because it adapts an abundance of material from Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's ballet "Swan Lake." I've written about Mansell's work in the past and he is most assuredly a composer who commands my utmost respect and praise; however, what he achieved in BLACK SWAN maybe be the most impressive undertaking of his career.
Talk to a credentialed screenwriter about adapting a novel into a screenplay and you'll soon discover the intricacies and aesthetics that go into the extraordinarily burdensome translation of one narrative form to another. In music, it's no different.
When you listen to the score from BLACK SWAN you'll hear "Swan Lake" at its core. It's presence permeates every measure while every note of the original score is undeniably Mansell. The result is an unparalleled fusion of two undeniably contrasting composing styles creating an absolutely sublime amalgam of musical nirvana.
For this it deserves commendation as one of the truly best scores of 2010.
The score for BLACK SWAN was released on CD by Sony Classical (88697813562) and is available for purchase at Amazon.com. It is also available as a digital download via iTunes.
5. AGNOSIA (2010) by Eugenio Mira - Directors who score their own film are a rare breed. It's not just a matter of possessing the talent to execute both tasks but the sheer Herculean effort one accepts when taking on both responsibilities. Neither role procures any available free time so how is one able to devote the necessary hours required to successfully complete both missions with sufficient merit?
That is not a question I can answer.
...but I think Eugenio Mira can.
I went into this film completely cold. I knew absolutely nothing about it. Nobody recommended it to me. I didn't even bother to read the synopsis printed in the festival guide. What I discovered was a gorgeous film supported by an intoxicating score that left me gobsmacked!
From the first alluring note that wafted through the theater, I realized the music was incomparable to anything I had heard in recent memory. Mira's score is wrought from a forgotten age when melodrama ruled cinema and music meticulously manipulated the heartstrings of the audience like a gifted puppeteer. I was completely under its spell.
As my heart swelled with each passionate crescendo, I wondered who could have penned such an evocative and sumptuous score. What kind of director would allow a composer to craft such brazenly melodramatic music for their film? I didn't learn who scored the picture until the end credit scroll. The answer surprised me at first and then it made perfect sense.
It was the kind of director who scores his own film!
Although I fell in love with a lot of film scores this year, none left me as giddy as Mira's deftly composed music for AGNOSIA. Even the coldest of hearts could be warmed by the concocted potion of Mira's lavish harmony, zestful orchestration, and ultra-romantic melodies. These are the types of scores that l live for.
Oh...and he also happened to direct one hell of a good film.
The score for AGNOSIA has not yet been made available to the public. I'm hopeful this problem will be remedied in 2011.
4. TRUE GRIT (2010) by Carter Burwell - TRUE GRIT was my favorite film of 2010. The Coen Brothers are masters of their craft as is Carter Burwell who consistently proves himself the perfect aural complement to the Coen's unique cinematic vision.
Burwell is an artist of extreme simplicity. The nostalgic Americana-infused themes he composed and adapted from late 19th-century hymns are kept lean and the orchestrations supporting them pure. The emotional fortitude and iconic imagery Burwell achieves with solo piano most composers couldn't touch with an entire symphony orchestra.
Like BLACK SWAN, this is another score that will be discriminated against because it adapts material outside the composer's creation. It's understandable why one may want to avoid comparing such a work to another that is entirely original; however, an alternative method of acknowledging this level of achievement is warranted. The skills required to adapt music effectively are too refined and the caliber of accomplishment too substantial to completely dismiss. Every single note heard in TRUE GRIT may not have originated from Burwell's pen; however, he is the auteur who transformed the hymnal into a masterful score fueling my favorite film of 2010.
The score for TRUE GRIT was released on CD by Nonesuch Records (526752) and is available for purchase at Amazon.com. It is also available as a digital download via iTunes.
3. TOY STORY 3 (2010) by Randy Newman - I love Pixar! Every year Pixar releases a film possessing a score which makes it into my top ten. While all of the TOY STORY films are masterful in their own unique way, composer Randy Newman dug deep into his creative soul to conjure up what I perceive as the best score of the trilogy. The adventure has never sounded so fantastic, the danger has never sounded so dire, and the emotion has never sounded so heartfelt.
About a month before I saw the film I received a promo copy of the score. Although I usually wait and experience scores in the context of the film before listening to them on their own, I couldn't help myself and had to sneak a listen of the entire album.
When the track entitled "So Long" started to play, I found myself teary-eyed as my heart clenched. I hadn't seen the film, nor had I any knowledge of the story, but there I was listening to Randy Newman tell it me. I knew exactly what was happening from that single piece of music and it hit my heart like a spear.
It can be said that the greatest compliment a film composer can ever receive is, "I cried at the end."
Well, Mr. Newman...I cried at the end.
The score for TOY STORY 3 was not released on CD but is available as a digital album on Amazon.com and as a digital download via iTunes.
2. BABIES (2010) by Bruno Coulais - I've adored a cradle-full of film music during my lifetime but very few pacify my physiology quite like Bruno Coulais' score to BABIES. It's one of those cute little scores that snuggles up with my DNA like a warm blanket. I crave it like a drug. I'll walk into my studio, dial it up and feel the relief of its tender strains wash over me like an aural elixir.
Coulais' masterfully orchestrated music utilizes a treasure trove of toys and random everyday objects along with traditional western and ethnic instruments. His ubiquitous use of voice adds to the allurement of its ultra-simplistic lyricism.
If you could transform Tinker Toys into music, this is exactly what it would sound like. Littered with simple shapes, minimalist construction, colorful hues, and and unwavering cheerfulness, Coulais' poetic ode to babies is a work of exquisite creativity. I can throw a rattle and hit a composer capable of creating emotional music with a hundred piece orchestra; however, only a few truly gifted composers, like Bruno Coulais, can do this with a box of junk and a singer.
The score for BABIES was released on CD by Lakeshore Records (LKS 341422) and is available for purchase at Amazon.com. It is also available as a digital download via iTunes.
1. TRON: LEGACY (2010) by Daft Punk - I'm an ardent lover of TRON (1982). I place it among my top twenty-five favorite movies of all time and its revolutionary score by Wendy Carlos is a seminal masterpiece in electronic film music composition.
TRON always seemed to be one of those unique films that couldn't be remade or serialized, especially thirty years after its release. It's a snapshot of a specific time during the evolution of our technological vernacular that I never could have imagined captured again.
When I first discovered a sequel to TRON was in pre-production, I was not the least bit enthused. Too many cherished stories from my youth have been pillaged and plundered by modern filmmakers. I couldn't bear to see TRON "nuke-the-fridge" in an attempt to gain the audience it struggled to find thirty years ago.
When it was announced that the enigmatic electronic duo Daft Punk was going to be scoring the picture, the last remnants of my severely diminished interest waned. I wasn't just disappointed, I was flat out insulted! I'm loathe to accept "outsiders" into this arena of which I give my utmost reverence and respect. Musicians don't always make the best filmmakers. I'm constantly perturbed by the widespread notion that it's automatically assumed they do.
As the release date for TRON: LEGACY approached and I snatched glimpses of the toys, production art, publicity photos, trailers, and even snippets of the music, the mourning continued. I don't know if I already made up my mind that everything about this movie was destined to fail but I certainly wasn't holding out hope.
...and then I saw the film.
It's still difficult to find the words to express what I felt watching this movie for the first time. I struggled to enjoy it, not because I wasn't but because I couldn't. When the film was over I was dumbfounded. I flat out loved it! What surprised me even more was how much I loved the score. At first I couldn't even bring myself to admit it. It was simple, yet brilliant.
The manner in which the music establishes the various expositional elements is its most impressive attribute. "The Son of Flynn," "Recognizer," and "Armory" constitute three of the most successful musical moments in the film primarily because of how well it establishes the complex expositional elements of the narrative. In addition to its functional responsibilities, it also infuses the film with its own unique sense of character. I'm always lamenting the fact that there is a generality amongst all film scores making them sound relatively similar regardless of the story or genre of film it accompanies. The score for TRON: LEGACY can only be the score for TRON: LEGACY. This had always been one of the prime characteristics of Carlos' score from the original TRON that I cherished so it was especially welcome to see that trait migrate over to the new film.
Just as the visual world of TRON: LEGACY is an extension of the visual world of TRON, so to is its aural counterpart. Carlos' score is mind-bogglingly complex while Daft Punk's score is surprising simple. Considering the technological advancement of The Grid from the first film to the later, it makes perfect sense. The more technologically advanced a society becomes, the more simple it is outwardly observed (or perceived) to be. Carlos' score represented The Grid in its infancy where chaos was more prevalent while Daft Punk's artistic take on The Grid represented the perfect world Clu was close to constructing.
This score, however, is not without its flaws. While the precision of its expositional obligations are acute, I feel there are moments in the film that suffer from lack of development within the music. There are a handful of key narrative instances the music ignored as it bulldozed its way through the story structure. There were other times when it severely flattened out the energy even though the plot was trying desperately to build tension toward the inevitable climax. I chalk that up as a casualty of having first-time film composers score such a complex picture. Although I find these faults fairly egregious, it's not enough to detract from what I feel is a highly successful score overall.
I'm still developing my relationship with this score. Who knows...maybe in a few years I'll look back on this list and ask myself, "What the hell was I thinking putting TRON: LEGACY at number one?" However, I can't deny the torrential impact this score has had on my aesthetic psyche. It's forced me to reevaluate the foundations from which I perceive and experience film music. It's altered my perception of the functional responsibilities of a score and it's reaffirmed my belief in the importance of creating an aural identity for a picture. I learned a lot about myself by embracing this score and for this I am extremely grateful.
Mmmm-mmmm...crow sure does taste good.
The score for TRON: LEGACY was released on CD by Walt Disney Records (D000567202) and is available for purchase at Amazon.com. It is also available as a digital download via iTunes.
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Jan. 16, 2011, 2:45 p.m. CST
Has one of the greatest scores of all time.....of course, everyone's different, but sometimes i can only shake my head at the choices they make...
Jan. 16, 2011, 2:46 p.m. CST
...simply on account of Journey's "Dont Stop Believing" highlighting one of the best scenes of 2010. ;)
Jan. 16, 2011, 2:50 p.m. CST
Jan. 16, 2011, 2:51 p.m. CST
No love for Hans' work on Inception. 'Twas my favorite of the year.
Jan. 16, 2011, 2:51 p.m. CST
by Amazing Maurice
Really IS stunning. Should have topped this list in my opinion. Probably one of the best orchestrated soundtracks I've heard in years. And the movie was pretty fucking brilliant too. Shat all over Toy Story 3. And I NEVER thought I'd see Dreamsworks Animations handing Pixar their collective asses.
Jan. 16, 2011, 3 p.m. CST
student film this year!!! And of course a great list by the way.
Jan. 16, 2011, 3:01 p.m. CST
http://vimeo.com/17644766 My first student film which is also scored myself. It's shit, but I'm proud of it.
Jan. 16, 2011, 3:04 p.m. CST
as far as rock/pop musicians turning to film scoring, my favorite of the year was the Social Network score.
Jan. 16, 2011, 3:05 p.m. CST
inception should have made it
Jan. 16, 2011, 3:06 p.m. CST
Jan. 16, 2011, 3:07 p.m. CST
I agree...Inception seems an odd omission from the list...
Jan. 16, 2011, 3:08 p.m. CST
Seriously? I'm not an HP nerd, but the HP 7.1 score by Desplat was spectacular.
Jan. 16, 2011, 3:10 p.m. CST
That music was awesome. Also, movies aside, the soundtrack to the video game Mass Effect 2 was one of the best of the year.
Jan. 16, 2011, 3:19 p.m. CST
Even though i am an avid fan of music in general, it's only recently that i've started to become interested in scores and completely understand when Scorekeeper says than musicians don't always make the best score composers, they are two completely different animals. Does any one know if Scorekeepers listens to game soundtracks at all, as i find myself still returning to Mass Effect 3 years after it's release and find it to be a great Electro/ Synth composition. Just wondered what other people thought of it.
Jan. 16, 2011, 3:23 p.m. CST
I found the soundtrack for it more memorable than Alice in Wonderland. I liked Inception, don't get me wrong, but I was a bit more underwhelmed by it than many others. However, the music - from the obvious horn-blasts to the surreally mournful themes that perfectly matched and augmented the images - was excellent. I can't think of anything memorable or original in Alice In Wonderland. Which was, ironically, a movie I hated less than many others. The music just didn't resonate with me.
Jan. 16, 2011, 3:25 p.m. CST
Where's Hans Zimmer?
Jan. 16, 2011, 3:27 p.m. CST
I agree with most of you about the Elfman score. The biggest problem for me was that I'd heard it al before many times over. It's good to hear a score and recognise who the composer is but the problem with this score is there wasn't anything new at all.
Jan. 16, 2011, 3:28 p.m. CST
But not a lick of the actual score.
Jan. 16, 2011, 3:29 p.m. CST
Love your work, Scorekeeper, and couldn't agree more with your number 1, but to leave Inception out is...well it's ludicrous, frankly.
Jan. 16, 2011, 3:36 p.m. CST
Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross's work was phenomenal, There are dozens of electronic artists that couldve written a score for Tron. The score for that movie practically writes itself.
Jan. 16, 2011, 3:38 p.m. CST
Jan. 16, 2011, 3:42 p.m. CST
has been mistakenly omitted from your list. Just kidding it is your list, but it was definitely one of my favorites (the score, not the movie).
Jan. 16, 2011, 3:42 p.m. CST
As much as I loathe Zimmer, he actually composed something decent there.
Jan. 16, 2011, 3:46 p.m. CST
I don't comment on scores that didn't make the list but some of the ones talked about here I did indeed like quite a bit. They just didn't make the cut. Others I didn't like at all. That's just the way I roll. There was probably 15 or 16 scores on my list that I had to whittle down to 10. That leaves 5 or 6 scores I genuinely liked off the list. As far as game scores...I'm not a gamer at all but I have been keeping up with video game scores as best I can. I've come across quite a bit of good music. I'm not opposed to writing about video game music and I've done it on occasion (Debney's LAIR comes to mind). I'll have to check out ME1 and ME2. I don't know either of them.
Jan. 16, 2011, 3:50 p.m. CST
And no Inception nor TSN is a bit weird. Glad Tron made it number one. Was a masterful score.
Jan. 16, 2011, 3:52 p.m. CST
I don't know which is more insulting . actually leaving zimmer out is also confusing taking into account you chose Tron #1. I've been sick of that Oingo Boingo garbage for more than 20 years.
Jan. 16, 2011, 3:53 p.m. CST
It really is a great soundtrack. I very rarely buy an entire score to a movie but I couldn't resist in this case. I thought it sounded amazing when I was watching the film and just had to hear it again and again after. I don't like that you used the term "nuke the fridge", though. I'll never understand why some people are so pissed off about a silly moment in a film series full of silly moments.
Jan. 16, 2011, 3:54 p.m. CST
Really happy to see Rachel Portman getting some love. In my opinion, she's the most underrated composer working today. (I haven't seen Hart's War, but I know the score backwards.) Mr ScoreKeeper, did you see/hear Desert Flower? Check it out. The score to that is brilliant, one of my favourites of the year.
Jan. 16, 2011, 3:55 p.m. CST
I'm no expert on this kind of thing, but I always look at scores as being divided into three categories. 1. Blah - These are those scores that are just kind of there, usually in shitty romantic comedies. The kind of score that's there just for the sake of being there. 2. Attention Grabbers - This would be like the Star Wars theme, something that is masterfully orchestrated and aids the movie while standing out as a work of art in and of itself. 3. Understated - This is where the Social Network falls for me, and honestly I have the most respect for this kind of score. This is the kind of score that is so seamlessly woven into the film that you barely realize its there. It suits the film perfectly and aids in the viewing experience without actually distracting you from the film by making you focus on it too much. I loved Daft Punk's score to Tron, but I honestly felt like it was almost too much of an attention grabber and honestly turned certain bits of the movie into a Daft Punk video to me. On the other hand, there's The Social Network's score which is kind of an understated version of Daft Punk's Tron score in a few ways and works better with the film because it doesn't distract you too much. It just makes you think at certain bits where there isn't much going on, "damn....this is a really brilliant score".
Jan. 16, 2011, 3:56 p.m. CST
Mass effect for me was the first game where the music felt integral to the gameplay. I don't think i would have enjoyed the game anywhere near as much if it wouldn't have been for the soundtrack. Really was something special.
Jan. 16, 2011, 4:11 p.m. CST
Check out this fan-made trailer and let us know what you think regarding it's music: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HAuVxT8iXh8 I think you'll really like the soundtrack.
Jan. 16, 2011, 4:58 p.m. CST
Jan. 16, 2011, 5:03 p.m. CST
The score was my main complaint of True Grit. I love Carter Burell, but lifting "Leaning on the evelasting arms" I could do that. The soundtrack did not add atmosphere unless you are going to church. The song was a lazy fallback, he is so much more creative than that.
Jan. 16, 2011, 5:05 p.m. CST
your picks, they are valid, esp Tron Legacy. Can't get enough of that..
Jan. 16, 2011, 5:18 p.m. CST
Jan. 16, 2011, 5:19 p.m. CST
Desplat again - not amazing, but better than Tron, TS3, and the others on this list that I've heard.
Jan. 16, 2011, 5:24 p.m. CST
2 very good peices of sound track where Ghosted (trailer edit obviously) by Data Romance that is a free download and was svery good in a trailer for a Cycling documentary shown in cinemas. Its probablt the closest thing to Tron other than the Inception soundtrack. An even better peice of music that was used in TV in Britain for "Any Human Heart" was Ludovico Einaudi - Nightbook. It is a very sparse but building track on strings and piano that I can listen to a million times in a row.
Jan. 16, 2011, 5:31 p.m. CST
by Kenny S
As much as I love Danny Elfman and Daft Punk, why did Hans Zimmer not get a nod here? Have you heard the Inception OST? It's incredible. Don't worry, I'm not attacking your opinions, just questioning if you had indeed heard it. I agree with all your choices (of the 7 movies on the list I've seen, and have no comment on the others, not having seen them) but you really should listen to the Inception OST if you haven't already.
Jan. 16, 2011, 5:41 p.m. CST
He Fell Asleep?
Jan. 16, 2011, 5:45 p.m. CST
that needs to be said a lot more in life
Jan. 16, 2011, 5:50 p.m. CST
i just started paying attention to scores (sadly because of a certain show where people run up to meet each other on a beach because some jackass wanted to find the next protector of a magical cave or whatever) but I found Social network score better than Tron, and I like Daft Punk. DP did do a good job, but like some have said before me, Social Network score was subtle or something. also Inception score is the best of the year... how often does Trey Parker and Matt Stone (and I guess collegehumor?) make a joke about a score?
Jan. 16, 2011, 5:51 p.m. CST
Jon Brion (with some input from Radiohead) did an amazing job on Stone.
Jan. 16, 2011, 5:54 p.m. CST
by golden tribw
If you like it, look up the songs TRAHISON and THE PAST by the artist VITALIC, they're somewhat similar and likewise make wicked driving music
Jan. 16, 2011, 6:01 p.m. CST
Thanks for starting this talk back, right... How to Train Your Dragon was easily the best score the year.
Jan. 16, 2011, 6:03 p.m. CST
What about... <br><br> The Last Airbender (it doesn't matter a good goddamn what one's opinion of the movie is; the music is awesome) <br><br> The Wolfman (scary to think that this was almost left out of the film) <br><br> The Ghost Writer (especially "The Truth About Ruth"...spectacular piece of music) <br><br> Dinner for Schmucks (I'm as serious as a stroke about this; a fine comedy score)
Jan. 16, 2011, 6:04 p.m. CST
That score was overrated, I only enjoyed the part at the end where the french horns blow the skin off your face. I agree with having Daft Punk at number one. When Derezzed started thumping through the speakers during the End of Line Club scene while everyone was going at it, that really gave the film a "hell yeah" moment.
Jan. 16, 2011, 6:08 p.m. CST
Randy Newman!?? Really??! Gah! I agree with True Grit, Black Swan and Tron. Inception would be my #1 and even I'm tired of Zimmer. I'd put Kick-Ass! on there but only because it reused peices of Murhpys "sunshine" score.
Jan. 16, 2011, 6:09 p.m. CST
by Fred Garvin
and Inception. It's been a while since we've had a year this interesting in film scores. I loved TRON as well...and a huge fan of Carlos' version. I was pleased with what Daft Punk brought to it. But Inception, I can't stop listening to it. With that, Sherlock Holmes, and The Dark Knight...Zimmer really has been on a roll lately. With The Social Network, it gets even better with multiple listens and works brilliantly in the film. I like that it's so different from the other scores as well.
Jan. 16, 2011, 6:10 p.m. CST
Was The Book of Eli in 2010? If so it needs to in there.
Jan. 16, 2011, 6:12 p.m. CST
You heard Digitalism - Jupiter Room. That starts off almost the same as Derezzed... also thought the Eat remix of Golem by Principles of Geometry could have fit into Tron
Jan. 16, 2011, 6:25 p.m. CST
I'm not really a OST kind of guy, don't have that many soundtracks if you leave out a couple of compilations of Ennio Morricone, but The Social Network and Inception both spoke to me, TSN OST is just electric it keeps things moving at an alarming rate, you almost feel like you can't keep up with what's happening there's an urgency to everything, and is amazing, and of course the Inception OST, for me Hans Zimmer best work to date, it elevates every scene of the movie to something more, every emotion is heightened by what you are hearing, is just amazing, amazing work. I'm sorry, but the Danny elfman ost is just more of not only the same, but worse, i can't sincerely remember any single note of what was in that movie, that's how bland everything was, it was just another elfman i'm quirky, can't you remember oingo boingo, yes i was there soundtrack. The Tron Soundtrack rocked, i was already a big fan of Daft Punk, they delivered...
Jan. 16, 2011, 6:49 p.m. CST
by Fred Garvin
score that isn't getting the attention I think it deserves. Probably because the critics slammed the movie itself.
Jan. 16, 2011, 6:57 p.m. CST
C'mon. Tell us the other 5 or 6. Much like the guy on the ground with Dirty Harry standing over him, wondering if he shot five times or six; "I gotta know". Why limit ourselves, just because we have a base 10 number system? What were the others? Was Inception up there?
Jan. 16, 2011, 7:47 p.m. CST
Both scores that deserve recognition at the end of the year. I guess I won't complain that they aren't in the top ten, if that's how Scorekeeper feels. However, he should have made a top 15 or top 20 list this year if he felt Alice in Wonderland needed to be recognized.
Jan. 16, 2011, 7:52 p.m. CST
Tron wasnt even nominated, Scorekeeper can eat a dick
Jan. 16, 2011, 7:54 p.m. CST
congrats Trent n Atticus!
Jan. 16, 2011, 8:21 p.m. CST
Your omission of The Social Network is an absolute disgrace. First time film composers delivered the most integral score of the year. It's the driving lifeforce of that film, and it managed to do so while perfectly walking the line between subtly manipulating the tone of a scene and announcing its presence to the world. The Tron score, as much as I loved it, was executed in the most obvious way possible. So was Elfman being Elfman for Alice in Wonderland. The only explanation is that you didn't watch it, and that is a godawful explanation.
Jan. 16, 2011, 8:56 p.m. CST
So glad you included it on here.
Jan. 16, 2011, 9:03 p.m. CST
by Shawn F.
Inception is still my favorite score of 2010, but Tron: Legacy would be a mighty close second.
Jan. 16, 2011, 9:04 p.m. CST
by Shawn F.
The Social Network's score was an absolute knockout as well and would easily be right alongside TL and Inception.
Jan. 16, 2011, 9:16 p.m. CST
But the second half kept it from being absolute greatness.
Jan. 16, 2011, 9:39 p.m. CST
Not putting it at the top of the list, I call a difference of opinion. Not putting it on the list at all, I call a travesty.
Jan. 16, 2011, 10:16 p.m. CST
As a classical/film score fan, I honestly don't give a crap about Inception or TRON. In their respective films they set a mood and perhaps drive some scenes, but as standalone compositions they are frustratingly simple to me. The same riffs over and over...they're just built upon. And then I look at How to Train Your Dragon with all its complexity of orchestration, tempo, modulation. The fact that the music not only sets a mood and drives emotion, but that it has all that technical complexity as well- THAT'S impressive to me. It's not bad to write simple music - but there has to be variety. I see the same thing year after year with film-lovers' picks: they always love the ones that sound contemporary, that they notice when they watch a film simply because it has a modern style that is memorable and fits comfortably within their niche. Dozens are impressive, intelligent scores are overlooked each year because no one notices anything but the OBVIOUS scores - the fog horn in Inception, the techno of TRON. But there's more to a composition than an easily-recognizable sound. It's a shame that no one but hardcore film score collectors (the ones who mainly listen to scores) notice the classical, traditional scores anymore.
Jan. 16, 2011, 10:35 p.m. CST
It doesn't matter to me "how many notes" there are. The score is masterfully composed: there is obvious thought behind the thematic material and how those melodies are developed throughout the film. THIS is an example of intelligent scoring! I really have to shake my head in bewilderment when people think that smart people should only care about Mansell or Zimmer - composers who are usually incapable of anything but creating a singular "cool" sound and then repeating it for 90 minutes as keyboard riffs loop themselves in layers. It's a memorable sound, sure, but how much thought does that sort of composing really take? Is there really an emotional level of nuance to this?
Jan. 16, 2011, 10:35 p.m. CST
I'd appreciate your thoughts on your favorite scores of the year. I'm always looking for great music I might have missed. Thanks.
Jan. 16, 2011, 10:38 p.m. CST
Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross won the Golden Globe for the Social Network score tonight. Scorekeeper didn't include it in his top-10. I wouldn't be surprised one bit if they win the Oscar for Best Original Score, too. And Scorekeeper didn't include it in his list. Someone either has a bias, or really isn't qualified to be "scorekeeper."
Jan. 16, 2011, 10:39 p.m. CST
by Nasty In The Pasty
The former is all sorts of Bernard Herrmann/Philip Glass sinister fun, and the latter is just slightly better overall on CD than Alice (despite the obvious temp influence from Bram Stoker's Dracula). And the "Every Elfman score sound exactly the same" people haven't listened -- REALLY listened -- to one of his scores since 1990. And here's my impression of the Inception score: BWWWWWWWWWWAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH tikka-tikka-tikka-tikka-tikka-tikka BWWWWWWWWWWWWWAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH tikka-tikka-tikka-tikka-tikka-tikka BWWWWWWWWWWWWAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH (repeat for 2 1/2 hours) Now, I actually kind of like the Inception score (I got the CD), but it's the kind of music where a mindlessly simplistic motif drilled into audiences' heads from the first trailer on has made them think the score is better than it actually is. The problem with a lot of Zimmer scores (especially for the big action sequences), is that it's PAINFULLY obvious you're listening to barely orchestrated keyboard improvisations. There's no counterpoint, no interesting textures (except maybe a solo cello or something laid on top), just a lot of LEFT hand RIGHT hand LEFT hand chords. Listen to ANY Jerry Goldsmith score from the 60's or 70's, and the action cues are SPECTACULARLY complex and thrilling, even for piece-of-shit B-movies like The Swarm or Logan's Run.
Jan. 16, 2011, 10:57 p.m. CST
That's exactly what bothers me about a lot (but not all) of Zimmer's scores. It's the same with Clint Mansell.
Jan. 16, 2011, 11:08 p.m. CST
by Nasty In The Pasty
Jan. 16, 2011, 11:15 p.m. CST
by Nasty In The Pasty
Now THAT'S how you write a fucking action cue, not just create an endless, simplisitic five-chord loop and just make it LOUDER with each run through the cycle (a Zimmer trademark). Now I like some of Zimmer's scores (Sherlock Holmes was great), but his approach to "action" music is, to quote Film Score Monthly's Jeff Bond in his review of Zimmer's godawful Broken Arrow score, "Like having wadded cotton forced into your ears with a hammer". Some of Zimmer's more textural efforts (like The Da Vinci Code and it's sequel) are interesting, but great action cues need COUNTERPOINT and STRUCTURE. Zimmer just lays down a repeating techno loop and makes it louder and louder until it just cuts off abruptly. Imagine any classic action sequence in Star Wars, Indiana Jones or the like scored like this. Even John Barry and Bernard Herrmann and Philip Glass (three composers who share Zimmer's penchant for hypnotic/maddening repeating patterns) know more about creating well-structured pieces of music that stand up to scrutiny outside of the films they were composed for. The only composer to come out of the Zimmer music factory who knows how to write complex action cues that aren't just techno loops and loud clanging noises set to an approximate rythmn is John Powell.
Jan. 16, 2011, 11:25 p.m. CST
This guy is the real deal. I can't believe you, as a film score fan, could ignore THE GHOST WRITER, HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS: PART 1, and THE KING'S SPEECH, all major scores of 2010 and great additions to this wonderfully inventive composer's repertoire. <p><p> Meanwhile generic fluff like ALICE IN WONDERLAND and TOY STORY 3 make the cut. Highly disappointed!
Jan. 16, 2011, 11:31 p.m. CST
More often than not he sounds just like the other Zimmer factory clones, but his Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas score is magnificent.
Jan. 16, 2011, 11:40 p.m. CST
I hadn't heard of "Agnosia", but I'm quite curious about it now. Will check it out.
Jan. 16, 2011, 11:45 p.m. CST
Jan. 17, 2011, 1:28 a.m. CST
several scenes. I tire of scores telling me how to feel at all times.
Jan. 17, 2011, 4:47 a.m. CST
Jan. 17, 2011, 5:44 a.m. CST
by barry convex
This year it's Inception. http://www.aintitcool.com/node/43613
Jan. 17, 2011, 6:37 a.m. CST
You can download(for free!) that one under the pseudonym the third twin. It definitely sounds more like daft punk, but I have to say this is one of those rare cases where I actually agree with the studio(Disney!!) and think the new more orchestral score they had to in a couple of weeks does actually suit the film better.
Jan. 17, 2011, 10:08 a.m. CST
Sadly overlooked by most.
Jan. 17, 2011, 10:47 a.m. CST
3rd Twin is not a Daft Punk score. They have explicitly said they are not them, and they have been on record as saying they always intended for the score to be orchestral. The Third Twin is similar to Daft Punk but does not have the rich texture of their music. Granted it has a filtered sound a bit like the Roule and Crydemour stuff their labels put out they would only produce this, and they would produce that sound 10 years ago. Superficially it sounds a little like the 3rd album but this was rushed to get them out of the deal with Virgin that they hated. The 3rd Twin stuff sounds nothing like a sound track either... not even an experimental one. These guys knew what they were doing as De Hommen Cristo had scored a Gasper Noe film.
Jan. 17, 2011, 11:16 a.m. CST
Jan. 17, 2011, 11:20 a.m. CST
Stupid return key. Anyway, at the end of the day, this is one guy's list of movies. He is somehow qualified, according to this site, to be master of all movie music, but obviously we have very divergent opinions. Inception and Social Network should be on this list. That's my opinion, not Scorekeeper's. Bottom line is that I still have Inception, TSN, and Tron going through my earphones when I run and my speakers when I drive. Who cares if they all didn't make this guy's list?
Jan. 17, 2011, 2:16 p.m. CST
Don't like this list, AT ALL. Not only do I not care for several of the scores listed, it leaves out a few terrific scores (Inception not listed... really?). Everyone seems to love the True Grit OST, but I simply can't stand it. Maybe it comes from actually singing "Leaning on the Everlasting Arms" every fucking Sunday morning for 15 years. Also, I think the Tron OST is vastly over-rated. The first 4 songs are pretty good and then... it just crashes into repetition and house-blend nonsense. To each their own, I guess.
Jan. 17, 2011, 3:26 p.m. CST
Has anyone heard Thomas Newman's The Debt? I'm sure it would have placed if I could have heard it. It is a 2010 score right? Anyway... THE TOP TEN: 01. The Last Airbender - James Newton Howard 02. Inception - Hans Zimmer 03. The Social Network - Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross 04. How To Train Your Dragon - John Powell 05. Never Let Me Go - Rachel Portman 06. The Warrior's Way - Javier Navarrete 07. Toy Story 3 - Randy Newman 08. The Chronicles Of Narnia: Voyage Of The Dawn Treader - David Arnold 09. Predators - John Debney 10. The Tourist - James Newton Howard HONORABLE MENTION: 11. The Pacific (HBO-TV) - Hans Zimmer, Geoff Zanelli & Blake Neely 12. The Pillars Of The Earth (Starz-TV) - Trevor Morris 13. Robin Hood - Marc Streitenfeld 14. Cop Out - Harold Faltermeyer 15. The Karate Kid - James Horner 16. Tron Legacy - Daft Punk 17. True Grit - Carter Burwell 18. Black Swan - Clint Mansell 19. Tangled - Alan Menkin 20. Green Zone - John Powell 21. The A-Team - Alan Silvestri 22. Knight & Day - John Powell 23. Despicable Me - Heitor Pereira & Pharrell Williams 24. Megamind - Lorne Balfe & Hans Zimmer 25. The Expendables - Brian Tyler MOST DIAPPOINTING: 01. Iron Man 2 - John Debney 02. Let Me In - Michael Giacchino
Jan. 17, 2011, 3:55 p.m. CST
But loved the Social Network score. Also loved Tron and it's score too. Have to check out the ones on here that I haven't heard.
Jan. 17, 2011, 3:58 p.m. CST
Sorry Scorekeeper, Inception smokes everything on that list. Just lost a lot of respect as yet another person highly overrates Tron Legacy. Add that to two mediocre adaptations and Zimmer's best work ever is snubbed. Tron Legacy is extremely overrated simply because of who it was who did the score. The exact same soundtrack with a different name attached to it would have went 75% more unnoticed. It's absolutely outlandish. B
Jan. 17, 2011, 4:49 p.m. CST
Was that Zimmer had already made that score, back in 1989 with Black Rain. PLANT THE SEED!
Jan. 17, 2011, 5:55 p.m. CST
Nostalgic and nervous too! Magnificent score.
Jan. 17, 2011, 6:28 p.m. CST
I too loved the inception film and score....been a long time since i thought that zimmer was just a hack (actually, since i first watched the thin red line). Confess that i haven't seen black swan or social network yet 'tho i have heard some of the music (black swan sounded great). I think HTTYD works great, not just in conjunction with the film, but as standalone music too...of course, whether this should be considered as a factor in determining if it's a good score is another debate but, all things considered, if a score (with or without the visuals) thrills you and brings a smile to your face, I'm just glad the thing exists. If HTTYD had not been made, I wouldn't be listening to tracks like "forbidden friendship," "see you tomorrow" and "test drive" on the bus whilst i'm staring out of the window disconnected from the visuals. Been struggling to classify exactly how great this score is...have listened to so much great music during my life, much of it from scores, that i've been almost "scared" to admit how much i love it. Seemed difficult to almost overnight have this thing leapfrog in my affections virtually every score that i love and have listened to thousands of times but....fundamentally, there's something very special about music that brings an unbidden smile to my face EVERY time...it's so beautiful....I would be embarrassed to meet John Powell now...i imagine he knows he did "a good job." For me, his score is far more than that and i'd struggle to keep my mouth shut in his presence as to my thoughts on his "good job." John Powell composed some music for a cgi kids film...in doing so he composed some of the best music i've ever heard....life's funny like that...
Jan. 17, 2011, 7:23 p.m. CST
by Amazing Maurice
I've been shoving How To Train Your Dragon into the face of just anybody who is willing to watch a 'silly little kids movie'. I can't help feeling that nobody talks about this fantastic little gem enough. It takes a hell of a lot for my jaded, cynical soul to feel ANY kind of emotion these days. But HTTYD's simple story, stunning animation combined with Powell's utterly epic soundtrack made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up, made me grin from ear-to-ear and giggle like a 7 year old kid again.
Jan. 17, 2011, 7:43 p.m. CST
None of you need my opinion in order to validate your own. It's already completely valid by itself. I'm not sure why so many are compelled to want my list to match theirs. You don't want a difference perspective? You just want to read what you already think? Well, not me. I love top ten lists. It's the reason I write one every year. But nothing is more boring than reading a top ten list that matches my own. I want to read a list that differs from mine so I can get a difference perspective. That's the beauty of it all. I don't care to read about somebody else who has TRON: LEGACY at their #1 spot but if they had INCEPTION, for example, I would really want to read that. And for all those comments about "X film" should be on the list...No, it shouldn't because it would not have been true. I have my finger on the pulse of film music fandom and I know what is popular and what is not. I could simply align my list to those most popular titles but I refuse to do that because it would not be honest. I'm not selling out. I've said it before, I'll say it again, you won't always agree with my perspective but you can always count on it being 100% honest and sincere. This is fun. I can't wait until next year.
Jan. 17, 2011, 8:23 p.m. CST
..i think that it's fantastic to have so many passionate people posting their thoughts on soundtracks..i'm nearly 40 and not that long ago, it would be almost impossible to hear what other people think about a relatively esoteric aspect of filmmaking...i RARELY post on messageboards but things close to my heart always prevail...i could launch into a diatribe about peoples' views but i wont...just great to hear what people think. I feel blessed that we can talk about this stuff- i loved "to bits" carter burwell's "alamo" soundtrack and giacchino's "speed racer.."my standouts of the last decade until "httyd...let's revel in people being passionate about the music which accompanies their films...isn't it great that we have burwell, giacchino and powell doing great work? It's strange that people only notice burwell now for the inferior "true grit" after "alamo" surpassed all a few years ago..but that's life my friends....giacchino wins awards for "up" but nothing for the far superior "speed racer.." that's life...."httyd" may win nothing...so what? When you're smiling to yourself and listening to something sublime, it matters not a jot what other people think or vote for..i wont change my mind or switch a track because of what won awards......i listen to the good stuff and that's all there is.....
Jan. 17, 2011, 11:20 p.m. CST
...and THAT'S the problem. Very few people will see them as music outside of their respective films' contexts. All that matters to them is "it got my heart pumping" or "it sounded cool". Anything outside of immediate reaction flies past them, and it's a real shame. There is a lot more that goes into creating film scores - in some cases (LOTR and Star Wars, for example) it's barely different than writing an opera. These works of art get overlooked in favor of simple "mood setters" like Inception. Counterpoint, varying instrumentation, themes, even melody thrown out the window....
Jan. 17, 2011, 11:43 p.m. CST
...as if real men wouldn't be caught dead listening to a score crafted by someone who can write - oh no! - a pretty melody. Perhaps that's just too traditional" for people. We need power chords! Staccato Rhythms! Electronics! Classical music is not the same as rock music. People usually have a very specific in music, or they like what they're used to hearing, and that's probably a good reason why so many people enjoy scores like Inception or Tron. These scores are written with a simple, rock-inspired mindset. I think it's safe to say that a lot of classical fans are going to side with something like How To Train Your Dragon over Inception.
Jan. 18, 2011, 3:31 p.m. CST
...as someone whose loved many soundtrack/trailer cues over the years...whether complexly woven of repetively-driven...I'm always interested in the latest movie scores that come along. Out of these recent ones, I certainly thought the ones for Tron Legacy and Inception were excellent, although there's plenty of movies here that I haven't seen yet. Looks like there's quite a few I'm going to enjoy 'hearing'. One that I'm kinda nervous about seeing though, is True Grit...as I always loved the cue that accompanied the original when John Wayne grabbed those reigns between his teeth... I've heard good things about the remake, and I'm guessing a similar scene is in it...but I sure hope it's got a equally good piece of music to match the original. It's just a little thing, but that scene deserves to be as excitingly scored as the original...or just be left alone! Fingers crossed then.
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