Best Movie Score Composers

The Top Ten

1 John Williams John Williams (15 April 1903 – 5 May 1983) was an English stage, film and television actor. He is remembered for his role as chief inspector Hubbard in Alfred Hitchcock's Dial M For Murder, as the chauffeur in Sabrina, and as portraying the second "Mr. French" on TV's Family Affair.

How can Hans Zimmer be higher than John Williams, Seriously, John Williams: Jaws, Star Wars, Close Encounters, Superman, E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, Indiana Jones, Home Alone, Jurassic Park, Harry Potter Seriously, people!, John Williams owns Hans Zimmer.

He is a god among film score composers. He has won over 20 Grammy's for his scores as well as 5 Academy Awards with 48 nominations; the second most nominations of any person in the history of the Academy (Walt Disney is number one).

John Williams literally revolutionized the film music industry with lush, full orchestras chock full of iconic melodies and colorful instrumentation. Not only that, but Williams married classical techniques with the modern tastes of changing American audiences, producing scores that are literally ingrained into the minds and ears of people around the world. This is more than a matter of whose music is more recognizable: this is about someone who changed forever the format, quality, and brilliance of the modern film score.

The success of many films has been directly influenced by the master compositions of John Williams. They are the few films which are famous, not just for their visual content and stories but for their music. - Tatatat

2 Hans Zimmer Hans Florian Zimmer is a German film score composer and record producer. Since the 1980s, he has composed music for over 150 films.

Even if he had composed music only for Inception and Interstellar, he would still be beyond the reach of all the others.

The most amazing soundtracks in the entire world:
The Lion King
Inception
All the Pirates of the Caribbean movies
Prince of Egypt
The Dark Knight

There is no contest.

Definitely beautiful soundtracks. You should add Gladiator to that list; it's one of the best soundtracks ever. - ugh

Bruh Time makes me feel like I am the time.
Bruh No Time For Caution makes me feel like I'm really in space.
These are good enough reasons to for him to be in number one spot

Anybody mention gladiator definitely his best. Or crimson tide.

3 Ennio Morricone Ennio Morricone, Grand Officer OMRI is an Italian composer, orchestrator, conductor, and former trumpet player.

His scores can be either eclectic and strange, or harmonious and heavenly, or both at the same time. His theme to 'The Red Tent' is simply sublime, the Stereo version of 'The Ecstasy of Gold' is like a religious experience, and his work with Christy is just magnificent. His scores for 'Red Sonja' are the best thing about the movie.
He's had a few speed bumps here and there, but those scores are creative and eclectic.
I think he's one of the best composers of all time, and has worked on an entire range of genres.

Simply the best ever. he can do cheerful: Cheyenne's theme, Once Upon A Time In The West; Wacky, Main Theme from My Name is nobody; Dramatic, Man With A Harmonica, Once Upon A Time again, Sad, The Funeral, American Sniper ( even though a lot of credit goes to Nino Rossi For writing the trumpet tune, Downright beautiful, gabriels oboe from the mission and Good Luck Jack from My name is nobody, and of course, totally iconic, Theme from The Good The Bad And the Ugly. John Williams comes a close second for me, but Morricone I feel is simply more sophisticated and original. Hans Zimmer is good, but once you've heard on song you've heard it all. Another really great, but underrated composer is Earle Hagen, for his brilliant work on the Andy Griffith Show, with it's iconic theme, and tender moments. Yeah, I know I'm gonna get some Eye Rolls for that one, but he should at least be on the list.

Best of the best, hands down my favorite movie composer. It is amazing that he isn't more widely known. I'm sure a lot of people enjoy his music without knowing it is him but he has immortalized himself with the Sergio Leone Westerns, making those good movies great.

Masterful, " The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly" is probably one of the most memorable scores to date. - Solidamas

4 Danny Elfman

Men in Black, Dark Shadows, Big Fish, Mars Attacks, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Fifty Shades of Grey, Sam Rami's Spider-Man trilogy, Oz the Great and Powerful, Batman, Batman Returns and countless others.

I love many of the composers on this list and their themes are on my iPod, but self-taught Oingo Boingo lead singer/writer Danny Elfman... just look at the themes: Batman, MIB, Spider Man, The Simpsons, Tales From The Crypt, Edward Scissorhands, Beetlejuice, Black Beauty, Sommersby, Hulk, Planet of the Apes, Sleepy Hollow, Alice in Wonderland, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory...just amazing.

Tim Burton films, The Simpsons' theme song, and Oingo Boingo frontman. - Zahveed

Equal to Zimmer and following to Williams, Danny Elfmans superb changes in style and odd variations of sound make the films more tantalizing, his iconic themes and specifically his scores for the Tim Burton films make him one of the most recognized film composers of the modern age.

5 Howard Shore

Number 14?!?! Howard Shore did the Lord of the Rings, which has the most epic soundtrack ever! He should AT LEAST be in the top ten. - Blubbydubber1

Really he is 2nd in my opinion. Lord of the rings trilogy scores are the greatest scores ever each track has its own life and match the situation. The best film, the best story line and the best musics ever made

Why shore not number one? He make 2 beautiful score ever. concerning hobbits and the breaking of fellowship

The music of the Lord of the Rings is without doubt the best movie score ever, it fits extremely well with every scene or every feeling and I never heard a better score in any movie.The musis is so full of emotions, like happiness and courage, but also sadness and fear. I think no one else but Howard Shore with his beautiful and melancholic themes is the number one. Compare this to the childish Hans Zimmer pirate themes I can't even try it.

The Pirates films do paint a picture as if you really were in the high seas, but I get your point. - mcvito

6 James Horner James Roy Horner was an American composer, conductor and orchestrator of film scores, writing over 100. He was known for the integration of choral and electronic elements, and for his frequent use of motifs associated with Celtic music.

Truly heart-touching, emotional and magical music. Rest in peace maestro.

He has many great soundtracks, like titanic, avatar, and perfect storm, but to me his greatest was braveheart, particularly "the execution" and "end credits! Fantastic work and although the movie wasn't historically accurate, the soundtrack was incredible!

My favorite composer , we can only thanks to him the great sound of the Titanic - MatrixGuy

Titanic, Braveheart, The Perfect Storm, The Land Before Time, Apollo 13, Deep Impact - MatrixGuy

7 Alan Silvestri

Watch Endgame and tell me Alan isn't one of the most badass composers of all time.

Back to the Future
The Avengers
Night at the Museum
This genius has created numerous memorable movie scores. The second best, behind only John Williams (hard to beat Star Wars, Jaws, Indiana Jones, and Superman)

The castaway theme, that is all I have to say

He composed Forrest Gump and Avengers!

8 Jerry Goldsmith

The ultimate chameleon, a fearless experimenter, capable of excelling in any genre. Jerry Goldsmith's discography is an absolute treasure trove, a gift that never stops giving: The Omen, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Patton, Chinatown, Alien, Poltergeist, Under Fire, Planet of the Apes, The Wind and The Lion. The list goes on, believe me it does.

This list is a popularity contest. Anyone who studies Goldsmith's music as a whole will know that he should be in the top 2 at the very least, the most innovative composer of our time bar none.

In terms of musical variey and experimentation Jerry Goldsmith is the best.

If you ask other Hollywood composers, there is no question. Goldsmith. Simply, Goldsmith.

9 James Newton Howard

The gravel road from the village is the best movie soundtrack ever, followed by the 6th sense, both of which he made. Unbreakable also had great music, and avatar, king kong, and batman had cool soundtracks too.

The Fugitive, Falling Down, The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, Signs, The Village, The Devil's Advocate, Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, I Am Legend, Defiance, King Kong... so much awesome osts! This guy is a genius!

Hunger games and Maleficent have incredible music making him without a doubt one of the best! - ugh

Should be top 5. Excellent match with Shyamalan - JustAnAccount

10 Alexandre Desplat

Did you ever listen his music, Harry Potter And the deathly hallows; Girl with a pearl earring; Lust, Caution; Argo; Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close. In his music you can feel the pain, joy, in other words, it will take you into the movie. I think he deserve a chance to be on the top.

The Golden Compass, Julie & Julia, Coco Before Chanel, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and The Grand Budapest Hotel

This man wrote the incredible and eery score for Ghost Writer deserves to be much higher

The shape of water, the danish girl, suffragette, the imitation game...def my fave composer!

The Contenders

11 John Barry

Over his career he has scored the most diverse range of films from the Knack to the whisperers, from Mary queen of Scots to the cotton club. He also used melody like no other composer even within the body of his scores not just the main titles. He achieved this very simply, with few notes but massive amounts of heart and emotion that fit the film perfectly. He may have become a little repetitive in terms of tempo, style and arrangements during the last 15 years of his work but overall he can and could not be bettered. AMAZING

Unlike all the others - all great, all amazing - he understood better than anyone before, now, or ever, the inseparable relationship between Music and Image. In order to bring meaning to the image, one must first interpret the image, become emotionally tied to it, then LIFT it to the heavens with the one universal language that binds us all. All these composers are genius, but Mr. Barry is the only one who also understood his role. He is Number 1. He is the mentor and role model for all the others topping this list.

All his Bond-scores beat the most movie music out there.
I think that his other scores are brilliant too, especially "Dances with wolves" and "The Specialist".

He recorded the songs for Once upon a time in the west before Leone started filming it an he was squeezing the throat of the harmonica player while he was playing to get the tone he had in his mind. that's a genius mate

12 Michael Giacchino

The inside out score always gets me really emotional. His work is very underrated. Not the best but very good

Up ratatouille coco inside out The Incredibles rogue one and Jurassic world

HOLY COW 32, I WAS EXPECTING LIKE 7TH OR SOMETHING IN THE TOP TEN, his soundtracks or just iconic and moving and wonderful, this was music that absolutely moved me, I mean opening of UP was perfect, it was so empowering that the music brought me to tears, Ratatoullie was absolutely great too, if you guys don't know him, some serious research has to be done, his works within children films with Pixar could make a grown man cry, he is absolutely incredible (mind the pun) and I've even seen him placing 4th on other lists

Prediction: this guy will be the next John Williams. He's already done Jurassic World and now Rogue One. Though I don't like to think about it, John Williams is pretty old, and Giacchino will do amazing once he's gone, though I hope that will not be anytime soon.

13 Joe Hisaishi

22!? This is outrageous, I wasn't expecting him to be in top 5 in all honesty or even the top 10 for that matter, but top 15 at least, I had to go searching for him on this god damn list, they still got it right with Williams, Zimmer and Elfman at the top, but someone who has worked on films for Studio Ghibli that can be just as iconic as Star Wars or Harry Potter isn't even in the top 15!? SHAME!

He composed music for Studio Ghibli films such as My Neighbor Totoro, Spirited Away, Castle in the Sky, Howl's Moving Castle, etc. I'd say he's right up there with John Williams even.

He produces music that pulls at all of your emotions at once. He has a gift and that should be respected by putting him at the top of the list. Do it now.

Joe Hisaishi's Ghibli scores are completely fantastic, even surpassing the emotions of Williams' music.

14 Vangelis Evangelos Odysseas Papathanassiou, known professionally as Vangelis, is a Greek composer of electronic, progressive, ambient, jazz, and orchestral music.

Blade Runner is pretty much the reason why I adore this composer. - Kevinsidis

Can do classical, rock, new age, jazz, opera, electronica, pop... Some very atmospheric compositions. Academy award winner don't forget. Chariots of Fire.

Blade Runner, 1492, Chariots of Fire are some of my all-time favorites!

Genius.

15 Max Steiner

Max Steiner is the quintessential film composer. He invented the field. He should be at the top of the list, the top ten of which are all the millennials' favorites growing up. Steiner, Waxman, Tiomkin, Newman (Alfred, not Randy) should all be in the top ten.

Only John Williams comes close to the work of max Steiner. The most prolific of all

Considering he did the music for many of Christopher Nolan's films along with Sherlock Holmes and Pirates of the Caribbean franchises, Hans Zimmer is probably more prolific. - mcvito

He was the "Father of Film Music" and he composed the music of Gone With the Wind in one only month. - tudorcfr90

Max Steiner should be on 2, but you guys are only listening to popular.

16 Ramin Djawadi

Every single track is unique on its own. That automatically makes him #1. It's injustice to see him at #20.

One epic composer, for some reason he reminds me of Two Steps from Hell, his music just drives the films like the Pacific Rim theme, gets me right in the moment

From Pacific Rim, to Westworld, to the Great Wall, to Game of Thrones, all of Ramin's music is absolutely exhilarating.

He is a great composer and well-known one.Game of throne, clash of titans, iron man aren't these enough to be amongst the top 20. It is a pity of course when I didn't saw his name on this list.

17 Akira Ifukube

BEST JAPANESE COMPOSER EVER! Should be number one - asantalo

18 Thomas Newman

Newman's music is so beautiful, it haunts your soul (just listen to Road to Chicago). Ever since I discovered him, I feel he is deserving of top 3 at least, if not best composer of all time.

Ever since I saw Road to Perdition, I feel like Thomas Newman is deserving of being in the top 5 greatest film composers of all time the soundtrack was that good (especially when listening to Rock Island, 1931 and Road to Chicago, two scores that are beautiful and haunting, reaching your very core and being).

Every piece he composes is just magic, it makes any movie become so real and each tone is captivating. My personal favorite goes to Road to Chicago by my all time favorite film "Road to Perdition". He is as good as people like Hanz Zimmerman and John Williams, and surpasses Danny Elfman.

Even though he is not deserving of the Number 1 spot, no other composer on this list would be ashamed to be listed below Thomas Newman. He's really THAT good.

19 Patrick Doyle

Patrick Doyle is awesome. He definitely makes 4th on my list

He did Thor and Cinderella 2015

This guy is cool

Very underrated.
Remember Harry Potter 4 and the Thor Soundtrack.
He just needs more good requests

20 Clint Mansell

Clint deserves much higher. No one else quite like him. His music is on another level of everyone else.

An amazing composer, that has the ability to deliver a tsunami of emotions with every note.

Best Music Composer of All Times. Listen to "Death Is The Road To Awe" (The Fountain) and "Lux Aeterna" (Requiem For A Dream) and contemplate the unbelievable emotional connection between the music, the films and each scene the score is synced to.

Noah, Requiem for a Dream (Lux Aeterna), The Fountain (The Last Man), Black Swan, etc. are some of the movies with the greatest soundtracks of all time. And they were all made by this guy!

21 Masaru Sato
22 Harry Gregson-Williams

Sure he wasn't as iconic as John Williams but god damn I was hoping for top 20 at least, come on guys pick up your game, I thought the music for Shrek was probably one of the most memorial movies of my childhood, and yeah Narnia wasn't just awesome it was SPECTACULARLY in the moment perfectly timed scores.

Shrek, Enemy of the State, The Chronicles of Narnia, Total Recall, Unstoppable and more. This guy's awesome, definitely up there.

How was Harry Gregson-Williams not on this list? There is a certain magical quality in his scores for the Shrek and Chronicles of Narnia films.

Spectacular soundtracks that really get your adrenaline pumping. He sure knows how to score action movies.

23 Henry Jackman

Loved what he did with Wreck-It Ralph!

Big Hero 6, Kingsman, Kong: Skull Island, Wreck-it-Ralph

24 Dimitri Tiomkin

All you see at the top are modern composers with their fancy gadgets and teams. Some are very good but don't equal the masters.

Wrote some iconic soundtracks of the 40s...

Exciting, enjoyable, memorable music.

25 Bernard Herrmann

His last score, "Taxi Driver," was his best...but all his work was genius

This was Hitchcock's go to guy. And I've still not heard anything that sounded like "The Day The Earth Stood Still", the original as well as the first "Cape Fear."

Bernard Herrmann's use of the voices of the harp and low woodwinds is something else. Absolutely incredible. His work on the Ray Harryhausen films like "Jason and the Argonauts", "The 7th Voyage of Sinbad", and "Mysterious Island" were incredible. He also wrote music for arguably the most iconic American horror/thriller film known as "Psycho". Although television does not encompass the genre of film, his compositions for the first season of the Twilight Zone depicted the science fiction/drama genre perfectly. Without Bernard Herrmann's compositions, the films/shows would definitely not be as recognizable as they are to us.

He wrote some of the best Sword and Sandal scores of all time, The Egyptian, 7th Voyage of Sinbad, Jason and the Argonauts! Not to mention his iconic work on the Hitchcock classics. He deserves to be in the top 10.

26 John Powell

The soundtracks to the How To Train Your Dragon movies are among my favorites of all time. I think he really did right by those movies with music that was at time just out right fun and at others beautiful moving.

Personally best composer. Really How To Train Your Dragon was supernatural. Love tracks like Forbidden Friendship, Test Drive Romantic Flight. He has potential to be finest music composer of all time. - divphygamer

How To Train Your Dragon score was legendary! - mohit100

He should be so much higher, Hancock, Xmen Last Stand, HTTYD, The Bournes, the Ice Ages, Jumper he is amazing.

27 Naoki Sato
28 Alan Menken

Underrated because his music is for animated films. But you can't beat Beauty and the Beast and Hunchback of Notre Dame

This guy is the whole package. Disney movies wouldn't be the same without him.

He composed the best Disney musicals.

His best one is The Little Mermaid. - asantalo

29 Nino Rota

La dolce vita
8 1/2
Amarcord
All the best Fellini's masterpieces.
And the Godfather...

From a technical point of view, his technique is probably the best.

Greatest composer of all time is Nino Rota

Godfather score is the best score I konw

30 Randy Newman

Because Pixar's movies wouldn't be half of what they are without his music. - keep-me-posted

31 Tyler Bates

Probably the best you and coming movie score composer. First discovered him with 300. But also responsible for guardians of the galaxy films, John wick films... definitely a top 10 for me.

32 Fumio Hayasaka
33 John Debney

The Passion of the Christ, The Greatest Showman, Dreamhouse are great examples of his works

Seek out "Mary Goes to Jesus" from The Passion of the Christ. Then there's the swashbucking Cutthroat Island.
Sadly, Debney hasn't had the best gigs in Hollywood. With the exception of Passion, he tends to elevate his films, rather than the other way around. Too bad, since he's a very vesatile composer and his music is emotionally resonant. He deserves more acclaim.

34 John Carpenter

Cool back in the 80's. Now his stuff seems weird and repetitive. Still, unique style - JustAnAccount

Excellent soundtracks to accompany his excellent movies

35 Elmer Bernstein

The greatest of all time in my humble opinion. Magnificent 7, To Kill a Mockingbird, 10 Commandments, Great Escape, Commancheros

Are You Having A Laugh. You All Clearly Have Some Big Alarming Gaps In Your Education. Bernstein's Work Is Beyond Beautiful. He Deserves To Be Up There With Morricone, William, Zimmer And Goldsmith. I Mean come on. Does "The Magnificent Seven" Not Ring Any Bells. The First Proper Composer Of The Silver Age. He Invented And Started A Trend Williams, Morricone, Goldsmith And Majority Of Current Composers Still Use Til' This Very Day

The Gypsy Moths (1969) film score is terrific! The Gypsy Moths, directed by John Frankenheimer, and starring Burt Lancaster, Gene Hackman, and Deborah Kerr is a classic, and Bernstein's music really sets the tone.

36 Randy Edelman

Gettysburg, Angels in the Outfield, Last of the Mohicans.

37 John Ottman

No words..Just hear apocalypse score..

38 Basil Poledouris

Conan The Barbarian score for 1981 is the best score of all time!

Conan is top score of all time for me

Only because of the Conan OST he should be in top10 at least

The Blue Lagoon (1980) Conan the Barbarian (1982) RoboCop (1987) The Hunt for Red October (1990) Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book (1994) Starship Troopers (1997) Les Misérables (1998)

39 Brian Tyler

Thor 2 and Iron Man 3

40 Daft Punk Daft Punk is a French electronic music duo consisting of producers Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter.

Tron Legacy

41 A.R. Rahman Allah-Rakha Rahman, is an Indian composer, singer-songwriter, music producer, musician and philanthropist.

He is the perfect example for how a musician have to be. You cannot ask John Williams or Morricone to compose an eastern piece, or African, etc. But in his hands every style of music is safe. From Jazz to Reggae, From Rock to Bollywod, Fom western classical to Indian Classical or Chinese... He has proved it over the times... - nikhiledakkott

He is the best!

The only reason he is not in the top ten is because he is indian and he is muslim. He is the music Maestro. Just listen to "Ellapughazum", "Jai Ho", "New York Nagarum"

He is simply the best. just listen "bombay theme", Dil se, Lagaan theme, the spirit of rangeela, hai rama from rangeela, to name a few. most reserved celebrity of India. and hello don't forget to listen Roja-The Rose.

42 Michael Giachinno

He's a genius! Come on, guys! He is the modern Williams! Don't forget his "Up", "Star Trek" and "LOST" soundtracks!

The ratatouille soundtrack is just amazing, much people ignores it, In the top ten I think

Don't forget the Incredibles!

"The Incredibles"
"Inside Out"
"Lost"
"Star Trek"

43 Angelo Badalamenti

Dreamy soundscapes. Perfect for David Lynch's universe.

Twin Peaks

44 Trevor Rabin
45 Giorgio Moroder
46 Henry Mancini

Yes! The great Mancini! The other 45, with the exception of John Williams, barely deserve mentioning.
His first Academy award for best original film scoring of the Glenn Miller Story came in 1954. Also television themes like Peter Gunn. We were immersed in Mancini's genius for over three decades.

He composed the scores for the Pink Panther films of the 60s-70s, Breakfast at Tiffany's, Wait Until Dark, Charade, the Days of Wine and Roses, and Victor Victoria

47 Kenji Kawai
48 Maurice Jarre

The "Bartertown" theme in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome nails it. Also the main theme from "Zhivago" -- it is heartbreaking. For those two films alone, he must be in the Top 10. Until hearing "Pirates of the Caribbean", he was my Number One. Now I have him at Number Two.

49 Lee Byung-woo
50 Benjamin Wallfisch
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