2013 was a substantial year where independent films saw some amazing work from composers as the studio tentpoles delivered more of the expected (with a few exceptions). Young composers made some very big marks on the score industry in 2013. The output was excellent and tremendous thus making this a tough year to narrow down the top scores. Like last year this will be the top 15. Since the function of a score never changes no matter what the score accompanies; the list encompasses film, TV and games. These scores left lasting marks, were emotionally resonant and helped take us on immense journeys. Even though this is a numbered list, the scores all sit at the top together and should all be considered immense accomplishments.
Oblivion by Anthony Gonzalez & Joseph Trapanese:
A beautiful modern blending of electronica/orchestra that delivers big moments and intense emotions. The thematic work is wonderful and engrossing.
From 15-1, here are Film.Music.Media's best scores of 2013:
15. Labor Day by Rolfe Kent:
A score that slowly washes over you to paint an emotional portrait of our main characters. Curious, chilling, beautiful and with a fragility behind it all.
14. The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty by Theodore Shapiro:
A score that seems small, but packs so much heart and inspiration. The music echoes the central character perfectly and sends us on a unique and memorable journey.
13. Man Of Steel by Hans Zimmer:
Hans delivers a score that truly brings huge action yet with a completely delicate side to paint the portrait of Clark Kent. The themes are simple but echo boldly through the score.
12. Rush by Hans Zimmer:
A fully immersive score that perfectly echoes its characters and the personal conflict they have with themselves, and the sport they obsess over. There's just the perfect tinge of tragedy behind the central theme that cuts through like a knife to give chills.
11. Summer In February by Benjamin Wallfisch:
Elegant and moving to a point of stunning yet tragic beauty. The beautiful themes and wonderful execution make the score a very memorable narrative.
10. The Lone Ranger by Hans Zimmer:
A huge and thematic western score that delivers stunningly memorable moments, enriches the mythos of the wild west and pays homage to the genre while still staying genuinely Zimmer. The score is bold and resonates in a big way. Frequent Zimmer collaborator, Geoff Zanelli arranges a thrilling conclusion to the whole adventure with an amazing version of Rossini's "William Tell Overture".
9. No Place On Earth by John Piscitello:
John Piscitello’s emotional score resonates very deeply. The beauty of the approach and exploration of this powerful story make the emotions hit big. The score is a tremendous exploration of the human condition and one of the best scores for a documentary out there.
8. The Butterfly’s Dream by Rahman Altin:
A gorgeous score done in a classic Hollywood style for an amazing Turkish film. Beautiful themes and a stunningly powerful story bring the characters to life for us to experience. Love and life flow heavily through the music, which is full of organic emotions that resonate.
7. Gravity by Steven Price:
A tense and tremendous approach that is a superbly crafted machine. The score works by continually overpowering then by pulling back completely. It can be looked at as a brilliant exercise in sound design scoring that fully immerses the audience in the action. It also has a really amazing emotional side to it as well that will leave you emotionally drained once the story has finished.
6. The Last Of Us by Gustavo Santaolalla:
A score that will stay with you for a very long time. The music perfectly captures the desolate landscape and the moral complexity of the protagonists. Suspense and tension is built with simple execution. This bleak post-infection western is a dark score that will haunt your mind and the tragedy of it all will keep you coming back just out of fascination, and maybe to ask why certain characters did certain things. There has never been a video game experience like The Last Of Us, and Santaolalla's score is a huge part of that.
5. Saving Mr. Banks by Thomas Newman:
This is a simply wonderful score from Thomas Newman who was able to compose a rich and lush score that tells a very resonating story. The score has several sides, but it really delves deep into the character of P.L. Travers and her childhood. This is a character-driven score that delivers everything the film needs from it.
4. 12 Years A Slave by Hans Zimmer:
A powerful tale of survival done in a minimal way that creates despair yet still paints hope. It creates the image of human life being a flickering candle that burns strongly, but is delicate enough to be blown out with ease. Zimmer creates power through simplicity and the effect is extremely powerful, at times painful, but deeply moving.
3. To The Wonder by Hanan Townshend:
A beautiful score that is full of tremendous life. Hanan Townshend’s score is its own experience and in some ways is a more engaging experience removed from Terrence Malick’s dreamlike look at love. There is so much beauty, but there is also uncertainty and pain. The score has many layers that make it a very engaging listen and a remarkable accomplishment.
2. The Paradise by Maurizio Malagnini:
Some of the best writing you will hear comes in the form of this score to this BBC series. The score has many sides, but its lush elegance and spry passion make it one of the best listening experiences of the year. A wonderful story unfolds as the music displays a playfulness but also lots of intricate emotions. There is tons to discover and experience.
1. Ain’t Them Bodies Saints by Daniel Hart:
The music embodies this tragic love story with lots of complex characters that all capture our interest. The strings create a fluttering life, and the hand percussions become a unique organic heartbeat of the music. The slight tragic tone and foreboding nature of the music add tension and anxiety to help craft this tale of waking up from a dream and facing reality. Daniel Hart handles everything masterfully and the score instantly pulls an emotional response from the very first notes. This modern western is a true representation of what scoring a film should be.