Music can really make or break a film. In fact, sometimes the musical score outshines the film. In any case, I'm a big fan of film scores. And while acknowledge that John Williams, Danny Elfman, or Hans Zimmerman are pretty great, they aren't my favorites. I'm just hardly in the mood for epic.
Here are some of my favorites, which equals a very long playlist, but I recommend listening to the whole thing. It's a good listen.
1. "Main Title (The Godfather Waltz)" by Nino Rota from The Godfather--How do you not love this music? It's Italian and absolutely haunting. The solo trumpet at the beginning is about as melancholy and lonely as you can get. Oh, Michael Corleone. Don't joint the family business.
2. "The Gravel Road" by James Newton Howard from The Village--While the film itself falls short*, the music is absolutely gorgeous with an edge of creepy. It captures the tone of the film and matches the washed out colors perfectly. And Hilary Hahn's violin solos are so determined and pure like Bryce Dallas Howard's performance of Ivy.
3. "Orchard House (Main Title)" by Thomas Newman from Little Women--I think at least half the reason I love Little Women like I do is because of this music. It's period appropriate, but subtle enough to not overpower scenes. And it's sensitive enough for a story about young women without being schmaltzy. This main theme has enough energy in it to represent our spunky heroine Jo.
4. "Visita al Cinema" by Ennio Morricone from Cinema Paradiso--The perfect music to capture the perfect nostalgia of Cinema Paradiso. It's sweet and tender, and--most importantly--uses the saxophone without being cheesy.
5. "Charade" by Henry Mancini from Charade--I love a lot of Henry Mancini's work, but this one is fun, mysterious, and so 60s. And I love that Cary Grant later hums this in the ridiculous Walk Don't Run.
6. "Compass and Guns" by Thomas Newman from The Shawshank Redemption--Yeah, more Thomas Newman, but he's great. This is one of my favorite songs on the soundtrack. I love the combination of earthly instruments--piano, oboe, strings, harmonica--in a bitter-sweet melody and counter melody combination.
7. "Death is the Road to Awe" by Clint Mansell from The Fountain--This song demonstrates everything I enjoy in this soundtrack. The score is performed by Kronos Quartet and Mogwai, and they create an ethereal, modern, and sensual mood.
8. "Lovers - Flower Garden" by Shigeru Umebayashi from House of Flying Daggers--The film itself is a feast for the eyes, and in combination with this simple melody, it's elevated to something better than it is. This particular song is during a brief respite for the two leads and they share a tender moment.
9. "Out of Africa" by John Barry from Out of Africa--This feels like a film score. And since it's written by the same guy who did Dances With Wolves, it has the same feel, but without the Stands-with-Fist association. In all seriousness, it's romantic and epic and exactly what I think of when I think of film scores.
*Although I maintain that the first half is a near perfect film.