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Top 200 Scores of the Century - #95 - 81
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• Posted by: Riley KZ
• Date: Friday, May 27, 2022, at 8:30 a.m.
• IP Address:

And here we go with more of this stuff cause it's Friday dammit, let's celebrate with UNDERRATED MUSIC RILEY DOTH DECLAIM


#95 - The Way Back by Rob Simonsen

My #1 pick of 2020 that probably got more than one raised eyebrow. I still maintain itís a gorgeous, heart-breaking chamber score with a fantastic monothematic core, usually played on solo pianoís or backed up with clapping percussion. None of which could have been great, true, but it works wonders in the film, is a great relaxing album listen, and a surprisingly honest musical representation of alcoholism. For all the (misguided in my opinion) praise he got for Ghostbusters, I really hope someday this finds the acclaim it should have got.

Best Cue:

#94 - Changing Lanes by David Arnold

If I ever met Mr. Arnold, Iíd love to tell him the first and still my favorite score of his I bought was Changing Lanes, and watch his reaction. Heíd probably call me a wanker and walk away. But Iím being genuine Ė I love this score as much as I love the movie, and thatís a lot (hell, I literally just rewatched it again two nights ago). Critics at the time RAVAGED it, calling it electronic murky muck. And yes, itís almost completely synthetic music. Yet in a scratchy, chaotic, mesmerizing way that sounds extremely different than the other droning crap it gets clumped in with. Plus, it repeatedly utilizes two different motifís; one hectic, one melancholy, so itís not just a bunch of electronic noise. Super underrated score.

Best Cue:

#93 - The Star Wars Disney Trilogy by John Williams

Totally cheating by combining all of these suckers (and itís gonna happen more often soon), yet I think this is one that wonít get many complaints, because reallyÖ.how DOES one rank these three scores differently? Force Awakens introduced us to a whole bunch of awesome new themes (yes, even Reyís theme, Iíve changed my tune since 2015), Last Jedi elaborated and was even more epic, and then Rise of Skywalker mixed all that with a shitload of nostalgic returns to old Star Wars music. Movies range from mediocre to absolute dumpster fires but the music made it all worth it, and if I had to pick a favouriteÖI donít think I could. Like em all equally.

Best Cue from FA:

Best Cue from LJ:

Best Cue from RS:

#92 - The 25th Hour by Terence Blanchard

Blanchard has done a lot of scores in the past couple decades, most of which arenít exactly my favourite stuff to listen to (except BlackKklansman and Da 5 Bloods, which grow on me with each listen). But hoooo boy, is The 25th Hour a winner, his career pinnacle by far for me. Opening with a powerhouse of a cue, the score ranges from melodic jazziness to tragic, melancholy underscore to overwhelming melodrama. Its one of those albums I keep telling people they gotta check out, and all too frequently I keep getting ignored. Stop that! Go listen to it!

Best Cue:

#91 - The Departed by Howard Shore

One of my favourite movies for being so goddamned entertaining, The Departed is also my favourite non-LOTR Shore score. First reason Ė making half the score a guitar-infused tango, for a fuckiní Scorsese crime thriller of all things? Brilliant. Second reason Ė the cue below, which Iíve listened to probably 800 times since 2006. The suspense material, which is more electric-guitar underscore in the vein of some of his Cronenberg works, isnít as interesting, although it remains effective. And anytime The Departed picks up a guitar, its solid gold.

Best Cue:

#90 - Minority Report by John Williams

What happens when you get Bernard Herrmann to score Blade Runner? Minority Report, thatís what. Maybe because of the darker, more obtuse nature of the score, it never received the acclaim that 98% other John Williams scores get (especially ones tied to Spielberg). And I just donít understand. He nails the mystery, the foreign futuristic aspect of the Pre-Cogís, the creepy stuff, the noir throwbacks, and the action material (Andertonís Great Escape is, for my money, JWís very best action cue. Yes, better than Battle on Hoth). A tougher score than usual from him, but at least in my books, one of his best.

Best Cue:

#89 - Real Steel by Danny Elfman

One of the rare times in the 2010ís where I felt Elfman not only delivered a masterpiece worthy of comparison with his 80ís and 90ís faves, but also one that frankly didnít sound like any other Elfman score. For a relatively simple and silly movie, the music is just phenomenal, happily mixing gentle acoustics with light rock sensibilities and, in the final two cues, uplifting and goosebump-inducing music the likes of which donít happen nearly often enough.

Best Cue:

#88 - Eragon by Patrick Doyle

Like most of Doyleís scores for some odd reason, I shrugged and rapidly moved on after my first listen of Eragon, only to return to it years later and go ďHoly shitballs this is good!Ē A rousing fantasy/adventure score that hits all the right notes (nyuk nyuk) and does it in a tight, concise album. Havenít seen the flick so not sure if thereís some major music missing, but I love the CD the way it is, and goddamn, that THEME, that awesome and memorable main theme. So good.

Best Cue:

#87 - Departures by Joe Hisaishi

So this might be a weird opinion, but I think Hisaishiís best score isnít for a Miyazaki flick Ė its for this live action drama about a cellist playing music for funerals. As expected from the plot description, the cello is the hero here, and man does Hisaishi wring every ounce of beauty from that instrument. The primary theme, heard frequently both on cello, violins, and piano, is the composerís very best. An incredibly touching and moving score.

Best Cue:

#86 - The Incredible Hulk by Craig Armstrong

Frick sakes, WHY DOESNíT THIS GUY SCORE MORE ACTION FLICKS??? Incredible Hulk seemed like such an odd project for the dramatic Scot, yet he blew me away with the work, particularly the action cues; Favela Chase is one of the strongest non-Bourne chase scene cues Iíve ever heard. He also wound up using a sound that became verrrrrrry (too) familiar after Inception, the ďhorn of doomĒ, but the way he works it into the Hulk theme and persona is exceptional. Probably my fave MCU score.

Best Cue:

#85 - Brokeback Mountain by Gustavo Santaolalla

Hahahaha yes, yes, absolutely yes. Yíall can eat it, cause this score actually DID deserve itís Oscar (I wonít get into the Babel travesty though). WIthin context, itís a perfect accompaniment to the story and embodiment of forbidden, ruined love (Ang Lee played parts of it on set to get the actors in the mood). But out of contextÖI still love it. People bitched about it being under 15 minutes; well, itís not, and the 30 min bootleg has some gorgeous highlights (like Horse Love) that were missing from the commercial album. I honestly donít know how anyone can listen to The Wings, either separate or within the flick, and not get all misty. Sorry, folks Ė you missed the boat with this one. Go relisten and remedy this problem immediately.

Best Cue:

#84 - Van Helsing by Alan Silvestri

What a gloriously, unabashedly awesome score this is; perfect, really, for a gloriously, unabashedly silly movie. A monster mash-up from the guy that made The Mummy, Van Helsing never takes itself too seriously, whereas Silvestri created this bombastic, epic work that could play in any major action/horror spectacle. For all the awesome stuff to unpack here, the very best is the use of a fast-paced guitar (at least I think itís a guitar) in tracks like the one below.

Best Cue:

#83 - Spider-Man 1 and 2 by Danny Elfman, Amazing Spider-Man by James Horner, and Amazing Spider-Man 2 by Hans Zimmer

YeahÖthis is the biggest bag of cheating someone writing up a list could possibly conjure up. Especially since Iím not just saying ďall the SpideyísĒ, because I personally think Chris Youngís SM3 is overrated, and I donít particularly care for Giacchinoís MCU ones (and the less said about Pembertonís Spider-Verse, the better). But I canít decide which of these I like more, enjoying them all pretty equally. In terms of intelligence and deflty mixing swinging heroics with surprising emotion, Elfmanís Spidey 2 and Hornerís works are the best. But the first Spidey gave us all these great themes, and Zimmerís outing continually grows on me Ė itís ridiculous (like the Electro dub-step stuff), but thatís half the fun. Taken together, these four superhero scores represent some of the best music the genre has ever offered.

Best Cue from SM:

Best Cue from SM2:

Best Cue from AMS:

Best Cue from AMS2:

#82 - Gone In 60 Seconds by Trevor Rabin

Heís baaaaack. This was one of my first ďdownload a score illegally from Kazaa cause I canít find it anywhere and keep getting outbid on eBayĒ experiences (and for you modern day kiddos Ė each track took about a week to download. We used to work hard for our piracy). Loved it then, love it even more now; itís not just industrial techno-noise like some critics complained at the time (youíre still wrong Jon!!!). Itís entertaining and actually quite clever in its stupidity, and I especially love the use of wordless female vocals mixed in with the action. Very short album (not even 30 mins long) so it ainít gonna eat up a bunch of your time.

Best Cue:

#81 - Carol by Carter Burwell

This is one that has improved so much with every passing listen since it first came out. I heard it out of context first, thought it was pretty, but nothing special. Then I saw the flick, and then saw it again, and realized Burwell absolutely NAILED the mournful feeling of romantic regret, of a love that could have been but sadly couldnít continue. The melodies here are enchanting and I donít think Burwell ever used pianos in a better, more moving way. Not an uplifting or jovial listen by any means, but definitely my favourite work from the guy.

Best Cue:


Coming up: More Rabin, more Horner's, finally a Goldsmith, a Spanish TV score, and several that absolutely no one talks about which really bums me out.

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