A noncomprehensive rating
I feel as if I should begin with a disclaimer that these are not my picks for the best movie soundtracks, period. I haven’t seen enough movies to have an opinion on the best ones ever. I do, however, know which ones are my personal favorites. So, without further ado and in no real order, here are my biased, subjective, 10 favorite movie soundtracks, taken from the relatively limited pool of my personal experience. Also, I’m not counting musicals for this since it’s just my favorite scores, so don’t come for me. I know A Knight’s Tale was fantastic, but Queen isn’t technically the score. That’s a list for another article.
1. How To Train Your Dragon(2010) by John Powell
This is genuinely just one of my favorite albums of music, movie fully aside. I don’t know what John Powell put in this score, but it captures Hiccup’s world perfectly and unforgettably. Test Drive, This is Berk, and Forbidden Friendship are my favorites, but every song goes undeniably hard. Even if you’ve never seen the movie, I highly encourage giving the score a listen anyway. 12/10 musical masterpiece.
2. Pride and Prejudice(1995) by Carl Davis
This is not to be confused with the 2005 Pride and Prejudice, although that score is also really good. I grew up watching this mini-series and the opening title is engraved in my brain as a result. The more period-accurate style of music matches the focus on historical accuracy in the visual elements of this adaptation and fully immerses us in the Bennet sisters’ world.
It’s also the perfect music for running down a hallway with a candle and pretending to be Jane Eyre.
3. Lord of the Rings(2001-2003) by Howard Shore
This one is cheating a little since I’m counting all three movies as one entry, but come on: it’s Lord of the Rings. From the iconic opening notes of Concerning Hobbits to the heart-pounding Ride of the Rohirrim, every song here is an incredible work that helps cement these movies as the masterpieces they are.
4. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl(2003) by Klaus Baudelt
This is another one I grew up watching and honestly just a classic in terms of score. The track He’s a Pirate which introduces us to Captain Jack Sparrow and will reprise throughout the rest of the movies is absolutely iconic. I like to listen to this score when I’m driving; it makes me feel powerful and much cooler than I am.
5. Journey to the Center of the Earth(2008) by Andrew Lockington
More obscure than my other picks so far but a banger nonetheless. Even if you haven’t watched this movie – which, if so, why haven’t you because it has Brendan Fraser and baby Josh Hutcherson and what more could you want – the soundtrack is just undeniably awesome and worth a listen on its own.
6. Doctor Who-Series 7(2013) by Murray Gold
I know this is a TV show and not a movie, but this is my article. I make the rules which gives me permission to also break them. This one is selected mostly for the tracks Together or Not At All, Goodbye Pond, and Clara?
All of Murray Gold’s work for Doctor Who is incredible, but these are some of my favorites. The first two underscore the final episode with companions Amy and Rory Pond which I won’t spoil but did make me cry. And Clara? is very close to being my favorite Doctor Who track of all time as it first introduces the simple melody that is Clara Oswald’s theme, which – again, no spoilers – comes back in the following seasons and particularly during Peter Capaldi’s run in the most gorgeous, brutal way.
That sequence of notes makes me feel like I’ve turned into one of those Barbies with wings that spin around and fly if you launch them – you know what I’m talking about. And not at all in a bad way.
7. Captain America: The Winter Soldier(2014) by Henry Jackman
This one is a classic standby. Steve’s theme makes me feel like my head is going to explode and reminds me of when Marvel movies had plots worth getting invested in. No shade intended. Plus, this also has the insanely awesome track The Winter Soldier, a musical motif that recurs throughout the rest of the MCU as Bucky struggles against his programming.
As you can probably tell by now, I love a good recurring motif.
8. Jurassic Park(1993) by John Williams
No notes, no words to say. I know the Jurassic Park theme, you know the Jurassic Park theme, and your parents probably know the Jurassic Park theme. It’s iconic; it’s a masterpiece; and I would be a criminal if it wasn’t on this list.
9. Peter Pan(2003) by James Newton Howard
This is another score that makes me feel like my head is going to explode but in a good way. From the soaring Main Title to the beautiful melody of Flying, there are no skips on this album. I asked for this soundtrack on CD for my fourteenth birthday, and I still listen to the CD to this day. It just never gets old.
10. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe(2005) by Harry Gregson-Williams
What can I say? Another banger. The Narnia movies were very big for me growing up, so in addition to just being a really good soundtrack, this score also hurls me back in time to some of my happiest memories. I love everything Harry Gregson-William composes and this is no exception, so this album gets a double endorsement from me.
I hope you enjoyed this look at my favorite movie scores which I’ve just realized is also a sampling of some of my favorite movies. I highly recommend checking out these movies if you haven’t, or just the soundtracks, or both. I hope you’re aware that this article is a goldmine of banger after banger and that you take this knowledge into your heart with due care.
I’ve just bestowed 20 years of movie-watching wisdom upon you. Use it well.