What films are on your list for the best film scores of all time? Cinefix has just released a 20-minute treatise on their favorites. Check out the video and read my analysis here.
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Picking the top ten best film scores of all time is a tall order. There are many types of films, and just as many types of film music. Instead of lumping all film scores together, CineFix decided to pick out certain things that they think music adds to a film. Then they picked a favorite for each of those categories.
The categories were:
- An Idea
- Psychological Manipulation
Arguably, many of these categories are subjective. And, this isn’t a complete list of what music can add to a film. I would argue “subtext” can encompass nearly every other category, for example.
That being said, the list of CineFix’s top picks is an impressive lineup of film scores, both classic and modern. Many, such as Psycho, The Godfather, The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, as well as Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back are classics of cinema music. It almost goes without saying that these films should be included in a top ten list.
Here is their whole list:
- 10 – Mood – Elevator to the Gallows
- 9 – Tone – The Godfather
- 8 – An Idea – Dunkirk
- 7 – Psychological Manipulation – Psycho
- 6 – Scope – Ben Hur
- 5 – Conflict – Alexander Nevsky
- 4 – Tension – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
- 3 – Subtext – There Will Be Blood
- 2 – Theme pt 1 – The Empire Strikes Back
- 1 – Theme pt 2 – The Sea Hawk
However, I’d also argue that classics such as Blade Runner, The Lord of the Rings, and 2001: A Space Odyssey could easily make such a list as well. Also, this list discounts musicals completely – surely there deserves to be a Wizard of Oz, or The Nightmare Before Christmas on the list?
What I love best about this video is that they audition dozens of music cues against each other when discussing certain aspects of a score. And, they put the title of the film along with the name of the cue on screen! That way you can look up something that catches your ear, and listen to that cue again later. This is invaluable for filing away future inspiration / reference material.
Some of the films they briefly play snippets from are fairly obscure, so being able to hear them and track them down later is a great resource. They call out a small film I mentioned in a previous post – be sure to check out Under the Skin for an experimental score that works wonderfully well with the film’s story.
In my mind, there can be no definitively “best film score,” and even narrowing it down to a top ten is all but impossible. Everyone’s list would be different, but I think CineFix did a great job at explaining their reasoning. And for a film music lover, this is a great introduction to the breadth and depth that some of the best film scores offer.