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Top 200 Scores of the Century - #20 - 11 Plus Bonus Pick
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• Posted by: Riley KZ
• Date: Tuesday, June 28, 2022, at 6:12 p.m.
• IP Address:

So we enter the almost end to this, but also a mistake -- by the time I finally numbered the end ones, my #1 pick was only #2. DAMMIT. Missed a score. And yep, my swapping between two different programs to write and organize this resulted in not posting one of my early picks so we're gonna do that first, THEN the top 20.


BONUS MISTAKE PICK – Blue Planet by George Fenton (was normally placed #185)

This was a very, very last-minute addition and first time listen to my list, which is why it got accidentally removed from my write ups (I had everything in list form on Excel, but wrote the reviews on Word, which is how this, Army of Thieves, Lost in Space, and Rumble got forgotten about and misplaced). Regardless, it was absolutely lovely, just about my favourite Fenton (Planet Earth was close to making the list, too, but the album was pretty bloody long. Same issue with Price’s Our Planet, which had some fantastic music but the damned thing took so long to get through I gave up when writing this list). Anyhoo, if you haven’t heard any of Fenton’s documentary scores, start here – you won’t regret it.


Ok, now on to the main event if those words apply at all to something this superfluous to the world.

#19 - The Hours by Phillip Glass

If you’re not a fan of Glass’ music, I’ll bet you will still like this one – as far as the “mainstream” can apply with Glass, this is as mainstream, or at least “accessible”, as his music can get. Hypnotic and beautiful with a very peculiar, mysterious heart beating at its centre, The Hours is just about a perfect score to write or read to. It’s constantly moving and driving yet relaxing at the same time; a tricky combo to pull off, and one I personally feel Glass often excels at, but many who don’t usually agree to tend to at least admit it applies with The Hours. Plus, unlike some of his scores for thrillers, there’s nothing atonal or creepy to disrupt the melancholy mood. Wonderful stuff.

Best Cue:

#18 - Cinderella Man by Thomas Newman

This Tommy. When people say Thomas Newman isn’t all that great, THIS Tommy is the one I keep referring to, the T. New’s that was a constant, glorious presence in the 90’s but still dipped into this gorgeous, orchestral well frequently in the 00’s with stuff like Road to Perdition (coming up still) and Cinderella Man. The album is short but very, very sweet, clocking in at under 35 minutes of actual score but containing some of the composer’s most uplifting, gorgeous work, especially when we’re talking about the final two cues (one of which is Shawshan-y goodness to the max, and the other a delightful Celtic romp). I’ve loved this sucker ever since finding it at a Future Shop (remember those?) way back in high school.

Best Cue:

#17 - Southland Tales by Moby

This is one that might be considered a stretch by the rules, cause numerous cues (including my very favourite, Memory Gospel) are previously recorded Moby tracks. However….I don’t know which ones for sure are. I don’t know how many of them are. And I love this album and have listened to it more than almost any damn thing else, so I’m just gonna say screw it, no one cares anyway hahaha. Southland Tales is perfect mood music; haunting, ethereal, trippy, often gorgeous, often just plain bizarre. Of all the scores/soundtracks I’ve listened to in my life, I’m betting Southland Tales is in the top 5 for most amount of go throughs, because it works any time, any where. Feeling introspective? Pop this sucker in. Feeling depressed? Here you go. Feeling happy and just wanna mellow/trip out? Boom, Southland time. It’s just goddamn wonderful, and I’ll love Moby forever for it.

Best Cue (and yes I know it’s not part of the original score, but I only learned that like a year ago and love it so much):

#16 - The New World by James Horner

When his Romeo and Juliet score finally saw the (illegal) light of day, some complained about how much of the score ripped off themes from New World in particular. Part of the reason I loved that R&J album was specifically because of that reason – any time I can hear something even remotely like The New World, my day is a better one. A gorgeous, sweeping, and highly romantic work that even mixes sound effects of nature and birds to a surprisingly good effect, New World is among my very favourites of Horner’s career. The “Winter Battle” cue is the only time the relaxing, beautiful atmosphere is interrupted – otherwise, this is just stellar “snuggle music” from beginning to end.

Best Cue:

#15 - The Fountain by Clint Mansell

An exquisite score that might be one of the three most disagreed-with in my top 20, because for some reason I still can’t quite fathom, many do not hear the genius in The Fountain. Frankly, most still don’t see it in the film, either, which was one of the highlights of my theatrical moviegoing life (never before or since have I sat through the entire end credits in a theatre; not because I was waiting for an easter egg or final scene, but because my motor controls could barely function). It’s a beautiful, ambitious, wonderfully messy flick, and Mansell’s collaboration with Aronofsky has never resulted in a better pairing. The primary themes, played out on piano, cello’s, and sometimes synths, are memorable and heart-breaking, leading towards the two finale cues that stun my ass right back into the stone age. If you’ve avoided the score because of some bad reviews (dang it Clem!), please rectify that and checker out.

Best Cue:

#14 - Gladiator by Hans Zimmer

One of the rare times a super popular album (of, like, any genre) hit me right in the belly immediately on first listen and never wavered from being an all-time favourite. It’s most famous for the Lisa Gerrard-led tracks like Now We Are Free (one of Zimmer’s career best) or the epic, awesome action music that sounds like it could be for a modern thriller set in Russia like The Battle and Barbarian Horde. On repeat listens, though, everything else about the music sings loudly as well; the subtle stuff co-composed by Klaus Badelt is exquisite, and the overall mix of mournful and heroism is outstanding. The “More Music” album is just about the only one of its kind I bought as a kid, and even with stupid dialogue ruining some of the cues, it’s damn great as well. Maybe too “synthy” or rebellious for some people, but I love it.

Best Cue:

#13 - Gigli by John Powell

First off, Edmund can suck it (love ya buddy). Second off…..WHYYYY? Why does this wonderful, beautiful, relaxing, romantic, adorable-as-all-holy-fuck score not get the credit it deserves? Surely it isn’t because of the hilariously bad movie itself, because absolutely no one here remembers it anyway, and John Powell’s name attached to the music alone should make most go “hmmm better check that sucker out”. Is it those random jazzy cues that stick out like a sore thumb? Sure, they’re not great, but they’re still kinda fun. And the rest of the music (apart from a gloriously anarchistic gospel cue in the end) is as if Tom Petty walked into your living room with a guitar and said “I’m gonna strum you some themes to make your down-there parts tingle”. The primary theme heard deliciously and repeatedly on piano and mostly acoustic guitar is goddamn great, GREAT I SAY, and honestly….that’s all. That’s all I need. If we can be happy going out on a date and only ordering an amazing salmon dish as opposed to steak tartare, then we can mother-fuckin enjoy the simple, delightful pleasures of Powell’s Gigli.

Best Cue:

#12 - The Time Machine by Klaus Badelt

Recently (by writing this – by the time its posted this might’ve happened 23 months ago), I made Ahn listen to this sucker for being so very very wrong on a Matrix 4 bet. And I was pleasantly surprised by the outpouring of positive responses; apparently I’m not the only one who holds this sucker in high esteem, which is a big change of pace since the last damn score mentioned. Time Machine is a huge mishmash of tones; whimsical Christmasy music, tragic drama, ethereal Adieum-esque choral chanting, epic action, fun adventure, and a whole bunch of other weirdness. It shouldn’t work, but dang does it ever. This was among my most expensive CD purchases ever; found it at a Quebec store back in 2002 for 26 bucks, which was literally more than I had at the time and had to borrow some cash from my folks for the rest. So glad I did.

Best Cue:

#11 - Avatar by James Horner

As with the movie itself, Avatar got plagued with a lot of criticisms of unoriginality. Boo freakin hoo. If a score sounds this majestic and epic and wonderful and gorgeous and exciting and balls deep awesome then I frankly don’t care if the composer copy and pasted every single note from a long-lost Nintendo game from 1984 – I just want more of it. Avatar is a sweeping achievement, and yes, essentially a Greatest Hits of James Horner Compilation. So what? Our greatest ever composer writing in his favourite wheelhouses, and all on one album!!! Fuck YES, and God do I wish we had more of them. The only ding on the original score album is that it inexplicably left off one of Horner’s career-best action cues (Quaritch Down), but otherwise, I give it no dings. Zero dings. Negative dings. Love it.

Best Cue:


Coming Up To Conclude This Shit: a whole lot of weird stuff I constantly whine about no one else liking, plus two series that everyone agrees are awesome.

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