Monday, November 24, 2014



Here is the  feature on this blog that is akin to the You Tube Film Music Cue of the Day, in that it deals, once again, with one of the great passions of my life:  FILM MUSIC.
I have a huge document called My Top Scores List in which I have picked the Top 5 Film Scores for each year since 1980 along with some commentary on my choices.
You can imagine that by now the list is fairly long and contains a lot of info that I think is blog-worthy so I'm going to start publishing excerpts from the list right here on my blog.
without further ado
Here is Film Music Musings

Best Scores of the 2000s

Its finally time to reveal my Best Scores of the Decade for the 2000s.  Surprisingly it has taken me four years to compile this list and my only excuse is that my life has been rather topsy-turvy since 2010 and I just haven't taken the time to evaluate the decade as a whole.
So now here goes.

First, here are a couple of Honorable Mentions that almost made the cut:

National Treasure - Trevor Rabin - 2004
Quote from my Top Scores List for 2004
 "Now we come to the most surprising and perhaps troublesome score on the list and that is Trevor Rabin’s score for National Treasure. I loved this movie!! It was one of my favorite movies of the year and the score is all Media Ventures. So, how can I put it on the list? Perhaps my love of the movie is overwhelming my better judgement but I think this is a fine score that actually has cohesion (which a lot of modern electronic/orchestral/Media Ventures scores seem to lack). To me, this is what Indiana Jones would sound like if it wasn’t a period movie. And this score has led me on an appreciation tour of the Media Ventures world, that I have up to this time ignored, which is a good thing to broaden my horizons. This score featured a moving melody for the treasure and the Gates family and some good electronic inspired action music."

Batman Begins - Hans Zimmer & James Newton Howard - 2005
Quote from my Top Scores List for 2005
"The score that I’m adding [to the list] is Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard’s Batman Begins. Now, I didn’t like the movie at all. It simply did not connect with me; I didn’t like anything about the conception and rendering of the movie. And, at the time, I simply dismissed the score as a part of a bad mix, but now, I’ve revisited the score and I must admit that this is some really fine music with true moments of beauty and excitement within it. I originally thought it was a bit formless and uninteresting consisting of pounding ostinatos and bland themes. I was wrong but the CD itself doesn’t do itself any service by having all the track names named after different species of bats. This severed the music’s connection with the film as I couldn’t tell where the music fit in with the movie. It wasn’t until I found alternate track names that I began to place the cues in context and could really appreciate this score."

10. Casino Royale - David Arnold - 2006

Quote from Top Scores List for 2006
"And speaking of adventure, it doesn’t get much better than James Bond as David Arnold continues his journey of scoring this storied franchise and turns in his best effort for a Bond flick. The score is constructed marvelously with all the thematic material deriving from the title song and even that deriving from the bass line of “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” and the song also serves as an ancestor of the James Bond theme. All in all, this score is a masterful piece of musical construction and deservedly goes on the list."

9. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull - John Williams - 2008

Quote from Top Scores List for 2008
"John Williams returns to the world of Indiana Jones, just as he returned to the galaxy of Star Wars earlier in the decade, and delivers a top-rate score for an Indiana Jones movie that was a disappointment to many (the movie not the score) and even I thought it was a bit overly-complex and hard to follow (once again, the movie not the score) but the score is right up there with his best."

8. Sherlock Holmes - Hans Zimmer - 2009

Quote form Top Scores List for 2009
"The real gem of this year (2009) is the completely original score to Sherlock Holmes which is probably the most original score Hans Zimmer has ever composed. Gone is the throbbing ostinati and it is replaced by a variety of sounds and themes that perfectly capture the spirit of the film. It’s also, like the film, a lot of fun and full of humor and sardonic wit."

7. The Da Vinci Code - Hans Zimmer - 2006

Quote from Top Scores List for 2006
Next we move onto the most elegiac score of the year in Hans Zimmer’s The Da Vinci Code which features an overabundance of material in a quasi-religioso vein. The final cue is, understandably, the best as the code is finally solved in locating the tomb of Mary Magdalene.
6. The Last Samurai - Hans Zimmer - 2003

Quote from Top Scores List for 2003
"From my favorite movie this year is Hans Zimmer’s The Last Samurai which is a bit surprising as I am not a huge Zimmer fan but this score is wonderfully evocative and absolutely nails the film in every way. It reminds me of a James Horner score in its melodic content and orchestration but it bears the stamp of Zimmer with its subtle electronics and Japanese instruments and vocals."

Mid-List Observation:  Wow!!  Did anyone else just notice that I just put three Hans Zimmer scores right in a row?  Hans Zimmer!!!  Well, it just goes to show you that he can compose a great score just about every three years or so.
Now on to the Top Five:

5. Spider-Man - Danny Elfman - 2002

Quote from Top Scores List for 2002
"Elfman revisited his Batman territory for the SpiderMan score and many people found it derivative but if you think about it they are really similar characters formed by tragedy and riddled with angst."

I don't think I did this score justice with only one sentence in my Top Scores List because this is a great score that really defines the sound of Spider-Man with a great main title theme and great action cues from Danny Elfman.  Back in 1989, Elfman defined the sound of Batman and in this movie he defined the sound of Spider-Man.  When I think of Spider-Man, I think of this movie and its music.
4. Alexander - Vangelis - 2004

Quote from Top Scores List for 2004
"Oliver Stone’s Alexander score by Vangelis. Vangelis’ score is definitely the best thing about the movie and it seemed that Vangelis really loved this movie because he scored it with some of the biggest and inspiring moments of the year in film music. For a scene of young Alexander riding a horse Vangelis scores an inspiring cue that is rapturous. He loved this movie and in turn I love the score that he gave the movie."

3. Fellowship of the Ring - Howard Shore - 2001

Quote from Top Scores List for 2001
"Its one score to rule them all (okay, everyone is making that joke but I still like it). Howard Shore, after an undistinguished career that includes such movies as Silence of the Lambs, The Cell, and Dogma, Shore pops up with a masterpiece. Nearly as powerful as another trilogy beginner a couple of decades ago. The Mines of Moria sequence is as good as it gets. A great score, destined to be one of the best of the decade."

2. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone - John Williams - 2001

Quote from Top Scores List for 2001
"John Williams' Harry Potter which I found to be rather uninspired but is still of quality (his other score of the year, A.I. was an unfortunate miscalculation). There are moments of greatness but I kept hearing a lot of Star Wars and Schindler's List with a healthy dose of Hook in the score. It just seemed that Williams was on automatic with this score but its hard to deny him because he is still the best."

Whoa!!  What was I thinking with this entry?  This score began the Harry Potter movies and defined the sound of a beloved literary character and ushered in a series of movies that would set the box office on fire for most of the decade.  Williams provides a signature sound and theme for the character but there is alot of music here (as is usual for Williams) and all of it is magical (pun intended) and of high quality.  Harry Potter joins Indiana Jones as having a signature theme that anyone would hum on demand if asked.

List Observation #2:  It is interesting that most of the scores I picked for this list feature thematic scores for a single character or the main character of the film:  James Bond, Sherlock Holmes, Spider-Man, Alexander the Great, and Harry Potter.

Now onto #1:

1. Attack of the Clones - John Williams - 2002

Quote from Top Scores List for 2002
"John Williams continued the Star Wars saga with Attack of the Clones (still not a great title) which featured the tragic love theme for Anakin and Padme. As I wrote in my diary of the year, “the real crux of this score is the love theme, and what a theme it is. It is one of Williams’ greatest melodies, both bittersweet and romantic, perfectly capturing the doomed romance of Anakin and Padme. It’s a theme for the history books with all the pathos of Beethoven or Mahler.” Simply incredible."

There you have it.
The Best Scores of the Decade.

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