It has been said that a great movie score is one you don’t notice. Which may explain why names like Bernstein and Morricone don’t roll off the tongue as easily as, say, Brando and De Niro. Unfair but true. In order to finally give the best of the composers their due, we asked three of Hollywood’s most in-demand film scorers to pick their top five soundtracks of all time.
HANS ZIMMER Credits: The Lion King, Rain Man, Thelma & Louise Up Next: Crimson Tide Favorite Scores: 1. Once Upon a Time in America by Ennio Morricone: ”Slow, trag-ic, and moody. Morricone’s the reason I’m in this business.” 2. The Mission by Ennio Morricone: ”You could say it’s the worst score ever because it so overpowers the film. But f— it, it’s glorious.” 3. The Boys From Brazil by Jerry Goldsmith: ”It’s not a good movie, but there’s something so dark and German about the music.” 4. Midnight Express by Giorgio Moroder: ”The first of the modern, ‘Wow, I’ve never heard this type of thing before’ score. It’s all electronic disco — totally alien to the story of a boy in a Turkish prison.” 5. Avalon by Randy Newman: ”The most beautiful American score ever written. As a foreigner, this score is what I see America as.”
THOMAS NEWMAN Credits: Little Women, The Shawshank Redemption, The Player Up Next: Unstrung Heroes Favorite scores: 1. Chinatown by Jerry Goldsmith: ”For its mood — it fits the time and place perfectly.” 2. To Kill a Mockingbird by Elmer Bernstein: ”Very effective it just works.” 3. Psycho by Bernard Herrmann: ”Unique and utterly unusual.” 4. The Wizard of Oz by Herbert Stothart: ”Sure, I love the songs, but the score itself is excellent.” 5. King Kong (1933) by Max Steiner: ”There’s a total sense of popcorn fun. It’s a fountainhead score-the beginning of something new.”
ELLIOT GOLDENTHAL Credits: Interview With the Vampire, Cobb, Drugstore Cowboy Up Next: Batman Forever Favorite scores: 1. Cape Fear (1962) by Bernard Herrmann: ”He was the first minimalist. The score was played at a volume where it wouldn’t compete with the movie’s sound effects.” 2. La Strada by Nino Rota: ”It brought together the carnival and sensual elements of the church.” 3. Altered States by John Corigliano: ”With this soundtrack, he reinvented orchestration in film scoring.” 4. On the Waterfront by Leonard Bernstein: ”His only score that had the sky-soaring melodic beauty of the American school.” 5. The Informer by Max Steiner: ”This has both Irish and Celtic folk melodies combined with a sweeping orchestral tapestry. It’s brilliant.”