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  • Victor Adame

The Hills Are Alive (With the Sound of Music)

I love film scores. I think I listen film scores more than I listen to regular music. I don't know how to feel about that. Well here are some recommendations.

(This is a photo of Los Angeles at sunset. Not much to look at, huh? - La La Land)


I don't know why, but film scores are so fun to listen to - it's undeniable. They're catchy and they take you on journey. They can make you happy (see the score from any film adaptation of Little Women. Alexandre Desplat & Thomas Newman's are the best in my opinion), they can make you cry (Schindler's List), or they can just make you feel so cool (The Godfather [original]). Listening to scores is a great way to focus while you're reading, cooking, doing homework, studying, or just...breathing. Truly, it helps you focus so much because it seems like it fills one part of your brain with something fun to do and allows the other part of your brain to concentrate on what actually needs to be done.


Not only that, but it can elevate the mood with what ever you're doing. For instance, if you want to have some fun while cooking, turn on Michael Giacchino's score from Pixar's Ratatouille. You will feel like the best chef there ever was. Or if you're doing some intricate homework or computer work, turn on Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross's The Social Network. It will feel like you're a hacker. So much fun...I think. Personally, I like to listen to film scores while I'm screenwriting. About a year ago, I wrote and starred in (yep, I wrote it for myself) a sci-fi short film and while I was writing it, I listened to the Ex Machina score the entire time. Also, as an actor, listening to film scores is a great way to "feel"for a scene or even to develop your character. Fun fact, while Joker (Todd Phillips, 2019) was still in production, Hildur Guðnadóttir (the composter) shared a piece of her score with the crew. That way, everyone could have an idea of what the film would be like (sonically) at an early stage. Now you know why Joker has such a cohesive tone in every which way.


My favorite thing is when there's a moment in piece that's especially melodic and powerful. If you want to know what I'm talking about, listen to Maurice Jarre's "Main Titles" from Lawrence of Arabia at the 01:46 timeframe. Or John Barry's "I Had a Farm in Africa" from Out of Africa starting at 01:10. Or Craig Armstrong's "Johanna Drives Off" from Love Actually at 04:10. Or Michael Giacchino's "Up With End Credits" from Up at 02:02. Or Justin Hurwitz's "Epilogue" from La La Land starting at 00:58...keep listening. Or Michael Giacchino's "Crossing the Marigold Bridge" from Coco at 00:39. Or two of my new favorites are Alan Silvestri's "Portals" from Avengers: Endgame (the whole thing) and Thomas Newman's "The Night Window" from 1917 (the whole thing, too).


Sorry, I got a bit too passionate for a sec. Let's get to it. Here's a list of 15 film scores that I think are worth listening to:


  1. Franz Waxman's Sunset Boulevard (1950)

  2. Bernard Herrmann's Vertigo (1956)

  3. Henry Mancini's Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961)

  4. Maurice Jarre's Lawrence of Arabia (1962)

  5. Burt Bacharach's Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)

  6. Nino Rota & Carmine Coppola's The Godfather, Part II (1974)

  7. Bernard Herrmann's Taxi Driver (1976)

  8. Yann Tiersen's Amelie (2001)

  9. Michael Giacchino's Up (2009)

  10. Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross's The Social Network (2010)

  11. Nicholas Britell's Moonlight (2016)

  12. Justin Hurwitz's La La Land (2016)

  13. Alexandre Desplat's The Shape of Water (2017)

  14. Carter Burwell's Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017)

  15. Nicholas Britell's If Beale Street Could Talk (2018)


Honorable mentions: Victor Young's Around the World in 80 Days (1956), Michel Legrand's The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964), John Williams's Star Wars: A New Hope (1977), Hans Zimmer's Interstellar (2014), and Jung Jaeil's Parasite (2019).

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