The 101 Greatest Film Scores

Lists, and not baseball, have become America’s favorite pastime, and for fifteen years now, I have been passing as much time as anybody I know.  Well, we’ll be continuing the series of lists that run in conjunction with my series of posts of 1939.  Having begun this companion series with an essay on movie music and already prepared a list on the greatest film composers, I will now provide for your viewing pleasure the following list of the greatest movie scores.  Where the list of composers, which featured Alfred Newman in the top 10, led into my review of Wuthering Heights, this list will pick up where I left off and lead us into a review of Gone With the Wind, the music for which is ranked number 2 on my all-time list.  You’ll find a great variety of genres in this list, from new age to tribal/folk to classical to jazz to whatever-genre-the-Good-the-Bad-and-the-Ugly-is.

The most represented director on the list is John Williams, who has nine films in the top 100.  In a tie for second place is Ennio Morricone and Max Steiner with eight apiece.  There is a two-way tie for fourth place: Bernard Herrmann and Elmer Bernstein both have seven.  I have provided links to YouTube videos that show the score so you can hear it for yourselves.  If a movie has been reviewed on this blog, the film review will be included next to the name inside the parentheses.

Anyway…enjoy!

  1. Star Wars (The Franchise)—John Williams
  2. Gone With the WindMax Steiner (view film review here)
  3. Lawrence of Arabia—Maurice Jarre
  4. The Lord of the Rings (The Franchise)—Howard Shore
  5. PsychoBernard Herrmann (view film review here)
  6. Schindler’s ListJohn Williams
  7. Cinema Paradiso—Ennio Morricone
  8. VertigoBernard Herrmann (view film review here)
  9. King Kong—Max Steiner
  10. The GodfatherNino Rota (view film review here)
  11. Doctor ZhivagoMaurice Jarre
  12. The Lion in WinterJohn Barry
  13. The Good, the Bad, and the UglyEnnio Morricone
  14. Ivan the TerribleSergei Prokofiev
  15. To Kill a MockingbirdElmer Bernstein
  16. E.T.: The Extra-TerrestrialJohn Williams
  17. The Magnificent SevenElmer Bernstein
  18. Jurassic Park—John Williams
  19. How the West Was WonAlfred Newman
  20. LauraDavid Raksin (view film review here)
  21. Chinatown—Jerry Goldsmith
  22. The Adventures of Robin HoodErich Wolfgang Korngold
  23. The Great Escape—Elmer Bernstein
  24. King Lear—Dmitri Shostakovich
  25. The Pink PantherHenry Mancini
  26. Harry Potter (The Franchise)—John Williams, Patrick Doyle, Nicholas Hooper, Alexander Desplat
  27. Wuthering HeightsAlfred Newman (view film review here)
  28. Once Upon a Time in AmericaEnnio Morricone
  29. Breakfast at Tiffany’sHenry Mancini
  30. The Third Man—Anton Karas
  31. The Ten CommandmentsElmer Bernstein
  32. MalénaEnnio Morricone
  33. Alexander Nevsky—Sergei Prokofiev
  34. Sunset Boulevard—Franz Waxman
  35. Once Upon a Time in the WestEnnio Morricone
  36. The Ghost and Mrs. MuirBernard Herrmann
  37. JawsJohn Williams
  38. Kings Row—Erich Wolfgang Korngold
  39. Dr. NoMonty Norman
  40. On the WaterfrontLeonard Bernstein
  41. Conan the Barbarian—Basil Poledouris
  42. Modern TimesCharlie Chaplin
  43. Now, VoyagerMax Steiner
  44. The OmenJerry Goldsmith
  45. Lt. Kije—Sergei Prokofiev
  46. The Hunchback of Notre Dame—Alfred Newman
  47. The Best Years of Our Lives—Hugo Friedhofer
  48. The Devil and Daniel Webster—Bernard Herrmann
  49. CasablancaMax Steiner
  50. RebeccaFranz Waxman
  51. The Mission—Ennio Morricone
  52. A Fistful of DollarsEnnio Morricone
  53. The Sea HawkErich Wolfgang Korngold
  54. The Red Pony—Aaron Copland
  55. HookJohn Williams
  56. Ben-HurMiklós Rózsa
  57. Raiders of the Lost ArkJohn Williams
  58. How Green Was My ValleyAlfred Newman
  59. BraveheartJames Horner
  60. Picnic at Hanging RockBruce Smeaton
  61. Pirates of the Caribbean (The Franchise)—Klaus Badelt
  62. Titanic—James Horner
  63. The Last Emperor—David Byrne and Ryûichi Sakamoto
  64. Out of AfricaJohn Barry
  65. Spellbound—Miklós Rózsa
  66. Superman—John Williams
  67. Romeo and JulietNino Rota
  68. 8 ½Nino Rota
  69. Beauty and the BeastAlan Menken
  70. The Wizard of OzHerbert Stothart (view film review here)
  71. The Searchers—Max Steiner
  72. High Noon—Dimitri Tiomkin
  73. Citizen KaneBernard Herrmann (view film review here)
  74. Adventures of Don Juan—Max Steiner
  75. The Grand Budapest HotelAlexandre Desplat
  76. Tron: LegacyDaft Punk
  77. LimelightCharlie Chaplin
  78. BatmanDanny Elfman
  79. North by NorthwestBernard Herrmann
  80. Star Trek: The Motion PictureJerry Goldsmith
  81. Dances With WolvesJohn Barry
  82. The Deer Hunter—Stanley Myers
  83. The Red Violin— John Corigliano
  84. A Place in the Sun—Franz Waxman
  85. La Dolce VitaNino Rota
  86. Anatomy of a MurderDuke Ellington
  87. The Fall of Berlin—Dmitri Shostakovich
  88. Johnny BelindaMax Steiner
  89. The Lion King—Hans Zimmer
  90. Of Mice and MenAaron Copland
  91. A Streetcar Named DesireAlex North
  92. Taxi Driver—Bernard Herrmann
  93. The Battle of AlgiersEnnio Morricone
  94. Sweet Smell of SuccessElmer Bernstein
  95. Charge of the Light Brigade—Max Steiner
  96. The Social Network—Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross
  97. Bride of Frankenstein—Franz Waxman
  98. All About Eve—Alfred Newman
  99. Walk on the Wild Side—Elmer Bernstein
  100. On Golden PondDave Grusin
  101. RockyBill Conti
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7 thoughts on “The 101 Greatest Film Scores

  1. Pingback: Wuthering Heights (1939) | A Slice of Cake

  2. Pingback: “Ignorance, Sheer Ignorance”: The Audacity and Innovation of the Citizen Kane Experiment | A Slice of Cake

  3. Pingback: Gone With the Wind (1939) | A Slice of Cake

  4. Pingback: The 30 Greatest Movie Songwriters | A Slice of Cake

  5. Pingback: The 102 Greatest Movie Songs | A Slice of Cake

  6. Pingback: Laura (1944) | A Slice of Cake

  7. Chinatown should be in the top 10 since no score has ever told a story better than Chinatown and you can literally go through every single cue to see why that’s the case. The placement of the cues is unbeatable and there is absolutely no chance there is a better spotted film than Chinatown. Also, Jerry Goldsmith is not the 16th best composer; he is a top 5 all time greatest composer. His versatility has clearly never been bettered.

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