Matt’s Top 10 Favorite Film Scores
Next to the chemistry between the actors, music is probably the most important aspect of a film. No matter how good or bad of a performance an actor delivers, music will almost always make it better, either by supporting the emotional resonance or pumping adrenaline through your veins. Sometimes, yes, a film’s score isn’t that great, and it leaves you wanting more from the film as a whole. “Django Unchained” was like that for me. I didn’t particularly like the film when I first saw it, and the lackluster soundtrack made it even worse.
When I talk about a film’s score, I’m talking about the entire soundtrack. Lots of elitists and critics think the “score” is only the orchestral background music or original works made specifically for the film. I agree in some way, but I’m also a firm believer that the music choices and arrangements are just as important. So, if a film uses an already produced song or piece of music in order to strengthen their product/support the story’s elements, then I have no problem saying it is a part of the score. Every bit of music in a film, whether original or adapted, is chosen for a reason, so that’s why I refer to the entire soundtrack when I’m talking about a film’s score.
Today, I am going to be talking about my favorite film scores. I’ll have a short blurb plus a snippet of the music for each film, but film scores are elements that must be experienced on their own. There’s only so much I can say to describe a film’s score, so the best way to truly understand why these are my favorites is to go and either watch the film or listen to the soundtrack yourself.
From the opening shower scene to the shocking final moments, the score of “Carrie” keeps this sad tale emotional and haunting. The music itself helps establish Carrie’s innocence and the horror that lives inside of her. It’s a great example of how music can change the tone and meaning of any scene in a film. You’ll find yourself strangely emotional connecting to this film when you watch it, and it’s mainly because the music fits the performances, story and tone perfectly.
#9. Raging Bull
This is one of the best boxing films with one of the best performances by an actor. “Raging Bull” is a violent and unforgiving tale about one of the toughest professional boxers. Robert DeNiro’s performance is just short of perfection, especially with an incredible soundtrack to back it up. Mainly composed of produced songs, this film’s soundtrack will transport you back in time. It is a great example of how already produced songs can be used to strengthen a film’s universe, story and themes.
#8. Pan’s Labyrinth
This is one of the few films that actually would be just as good without its score, but you’d honestly be missing out on one of the most beautiful scores in film history. At the start of the film, with simple piano plucking, some violins and a sweet humming voice, you’ll quickly be introduced to a harrowing world… the world of “Pan’s Labyrinth.” Within the first two minutes you completely understand that this is going to be a magical and sorrowful tale. It tells you to buckle your seatbelts across your lap and heart, and that’s just the first track off the score. The rest of the score successfully supports the magical themes and the protagonist’s innocence, including some tracks that make the antagonist beyond pure evil. Buy the film, buy the soundtrack and experience the world of “Pan’s Labyrinth.”
Everyone loves sports movies because they are inspirational and uplifting, but the main element that gives us goosebumps during these underdog or hard-fought tales is the music. Whether it’s when the team finally wins or when they finally start working together or when they hate each other, the music is always there to stir the audience’s emotions. “Miracle” has one of the best scores for a sports film, particularly the track that occurs right before and during the final game. Barely any words are said during this scene, and the music helps the audience understand the tension, the importance and the entire journey all wrapped into a climatic sequence. I’ll be honest; I jumped out of my seat at the end of this film when I first saw it, and I have to credit most of it to the score for filling me with such joy and inspiration that mixed perfectly with the events on screen.