Final Best 20 Film Scores of the 2000’s

Forgive the delay. Swamped in schoolwork.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 (2010)

Time for more Alexandre Desplat. Considering that the film is coming to an end this Friday (sniff), this is a bittersweet addition. Desplat obviously poured alot of heart and soul into this score, and his hard work pays off beautifully. There are some somber, chilling tones but there’s also something hopeful and yep, magical.

Shattered Glass (2003)

First of all, this film is awesome. The acting (*cough* Peter Sarsgaard*) is superb, but the score by Mychael Danna isn’t bad either. It’s not invasive or overbearing, but charming and strangely “feel-goody” if that’s a word. Case in point, the truimphant tones that underline the scene where Chuck finally opens the eyes of his co-workers and wins their trust. Or, better yet, “The Epilogue” which perfectly captures how charming Steve must have been before his his “friends” realized he was an expert manipulator.

The Motorcyle Diaries (2004)

This score is brilliant. It’s as heart-rending and fast-moving as Ernesto “Che” Guevara‘s journey itself.

Brideshead Revisited (2008)

Despite being a very underwhelming “revisiting” the score is absolute perfection. Adrian Johnston created a score that is wistful, playful, gorgeous, and tragic, much like its favorite and most well-known character.

The Painted Veil (2006)

This movie and this score are ridiculously underrated. The performances are great and the story is excellent, and the score (as it should) enhances all this. Alexandre Desplat strikes gold once again, in this waltzy, haunting score, that gets regular replay on my mp3 player.


20 Best Film Scores of the 2000’s cont…

Excusing the lateness in posting (I was caught up in my Harry Potter marathon)  here are the next five:

The Last Airbender (2010)

This is low because this film was awful. Words cannot begin to describe how appallingly bad this film was.  That said, James Newton Howard did what he could to make this way better, and he succeeded. But like a quarter inch. The score is as sweeping and majestic and as powerful as the film SHOULD have been (only it failed. Epicly. If that’s a word). “Flow Like Water” is a piece of music that showed exactly what this film could have been were it helmed by a way more capable director and actors. “Flow Like Water” is pure beauty and power wrapped up into one. Sadly, the film sucked. But we shouldn’t overlook how awesome Howard’s score was.

Fracture (2007)

It’s awesome when family members come together, especially when it’s to create something as good as this score. Jeff & Mychael Danna are at their best here. No, it’s not spectacular or anything, but it’s a perfect example of how to pair a score and a film perfectly. It’s rolling and mysterious, but not without an attractive rhythm.


The Time Traveler’s Wife (2010)

Time for some more Danna. This is another film that alot of people didn’t like but I did. At least it was better than the book. Mychael Danna’s score is softly somber but burgeoning with hope, particularly in “See You Again.” Love.


Alice in Wonderland (2010)

Pure fun.

Coco Avant Chanel (2009)

Again, this movie isn’t perfect, but I do like it alot. The score helped quite a bit. Alexandre Desplat once again, brings his trademark nostalgic notes, both wistful and sad, to create something that captures the spirit of Coco’s life (nowhere near as pretty or as simply classic as her designs). “Coco & Boy” is a sweet, lightly rolling piece dedicated to the love of Chanel‘s life, Arthur Capel.

20 Best Film Scores of the 2000’s


Inception (2010)

Hans Zimmer is incredible. This fast-paced, excitable, adrenaline-inducing score not only elevated this already pitch perfect film, it’s also awesome to listen to while you’re taking care of chores. It gets the blood pumping, and gets you finished much faster because it makes you feel like you’re in an action film.

Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001)

Disney films are totally game! Although, the best scores definitely came from that Renaissance age that is my childhood (*sniff*Beauty & the Beast), this score by James Newton Howard  is majestic and magical, and in a word: BEAUTIFUL.

The Village (2004)

Well, what do you know?! It’s James Newton Howard again. I know people aren’t too fond of this film, but I absolutely loved it. I loved its score even more. The score is first quiet and always as gentle as the inhabitants (well, most of them) of the village the film centers around. “Vote” is hands down, one of the most beautiful pieces of music I have ever heard. The violin gives it so much feeling and soul.

How to Train Your Dragon (2010)

 This is a perfect example of how to make a score fit with a film beautifully, yet give it its own character simultaneously. There’s something distinctly “Viking-ish” (perhaps the accordion? I believe it is) to the song “This is Berk.” Yet, “Forbidden Friendship” uplifts the sweet scene between Toothless and Hiccup, and manages to capture the feeling of the purest bond in its blooming stages–the curiosity, the discovery, the beauty of its result. Not to mention, “Romantic Flight” is undeniably romantic and soaring. So huge props to John Powell for this one.

Water For Elephants (2011)

Well, well, well. James Newton Howard, we meet again. Let’s again ignore that this film was unevenly acted (this time by BOTH leads who are supposed to be in love, yet can’t even convince us that they really like each other). This score is effin brilliant. It’s just gorgeous and moving and magical in a cute little box.

20 Best Film Scores of the 2000’s

I’m going to piece this together over the next four days. But I really love film scores, also known as “background music.” So here are my favorites.

JANE EYRE (2011)

Dario Marianelli’s score for this film is hands down the best I have heard in a very long time. It captures both Jane’s fierce, hungry spirit and the gothic nature of the story which is so often overlooked in favor of the romantic aspect. The fiddles, the violin, the gentle piano combine to create a sound both beautiful and dark, scary and attractive, and place it firmly at the top of my list. “Awaken” and “Yes!” are pure perfection.


Nick Cave and Warren Ellis composed a masterpiece. There is really no description for this plodding, western, gothic score which somehow manages to be romantic and dark. “What Must Be Done” and “Song for Bob” are some of the most somber pieces of music I have ever heard. Yet tragic as they are, there’s something beautiful captured in their notes. I won’t even try to pinpoint what that is. The mark of a truly great score is one that fits its film perfectly, but can also be appreciated separately. I find myself returning to this score on my mp3 player than I do to the film (which is amazing in its own right).


Trust, this is merely the first time you will see Alexandre Desplat pop up on this list. This man is truly a genius when it comes to gorgeous, nostalgic film scores that transport you. Specifically, “Sunrise on Lake Pontchartrain” and “Nothing Lasts” are somehow light and heavy. Within both pieces is the underlying tragedy of the story it belongs to, the moments of tragedy that weave itself into every life; but there’s also something nostalgic and hopeful. Once again, these are songs I find myself returning to more than the film itself.


Thomas Newman is yet another composer who will pop up on this list a few more times. This is arguably his best work. Along with the Celtic sounds which hint at the Irish heritage of its characters, “Rock Island, 1931” has an underlying gothic (if you haven’t already noticed, I really like this word and this kind of music) element, that undoubtedly foreshadows the tragic turn a young life is about to take. Sam Mendes himself in the commentary says that this is a “film of ghosts” and Newman’s score indicates that long before the audience recognizes Death as a main character right beside Michael Sullivan Sr. and Jr. The happiest and most beautiful piece is ironically “Road to Perdition.” The film’s title is both literal and ironic, but more to the point, its hard not to smile while listening to this hopeful, beautiful, assuaging piece of music.


Let’s ignore the fact that this film was incredibly flawed, unevenly acted (particularly by its lead), and ultimately uneven as a story. The score uplifts this film. Marcelo Zabros manages to save this suffering story by creating a score that is somber but beautiful. The rolling piano notes, are at first gentle and light, until they plunge into heaviness that gently, note by note, breaks your heart. “Summer” and “Morning Montage” are most evident of this.