Best Movie Score Composers

ROTTIE13

The Top Ten

1 John Williams 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.

Might want to change the pic, that's John Williams the character actor, not John Williams the composer. - truckturner

If you listen to his music, you can really feel the dreeam behind it.

John Wiliams did a better work than Hans Zimmer look at all his Prices

V 71 Comments
2 Hans Zimmer 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.

Williams was awesome, but just imagine a movie like Dark Knight, the Lion King, or Man of Steel without his scores in them. His music makes movies feel like real life. Period.

GOAT

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

Music made me cry

V 62 Comments
3 Ennio Morricone Ennio Morricone Ennio Morricone, Grand Officer OMRI is an Italian composer, orchestrator, conductor, and former trumpet player.

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.

He is better than Hans zimmer. Even zimmer admitted himself

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.

V 26 Comments
4 Danny Elfman Danny Elfman

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.

Hell yeah! No one is Better then Danny. From my heart and from my hand, why don't people understand, my intention?

V 4 Comments
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

Great great music

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

V 13 Comments
6 James Horner 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.

For "A Beautiful Mind". Incredible!

Nobody can choke the emotion like James did

Second only to John Williams. See you in the next life.

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!

V 5 Comments
7 Jerry Goldsmith

The Omen. Planet of the Apes. Chinatown. I don't even need to continue, do I? - truckturner

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.

V 2 Comments
8 Alan Silvestri

A genius

Alan is by far... one of the greatest composers of our 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

V 2 Comments
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.

Should be top 5. Excellent match with Shyamalan - JustAnAccount

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

10 Alexandre Desplat

The best, no reason to argue! - RookWizard

He's the best modern time film composer

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

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

V 10 Comments

The Contenders

11 John Barry

Should be higher on the list. Captivating musical scores for all his movie work!

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.

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

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".

V 8 Comments
12 Michael Giacchino

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.

He has created some of the best scores of all time: The Incredibles, Ratatouille, Up, Inside Out. Giacchino can just perfectly capture every moment of a film in a piece of music. His soundtracks are absolutely wonderful.

V 4 Comments
13 Joe Hisaishi

What's wrong with the world!

He is simply greatest of all time

I'd take Ghibli soundtracks over anything in the top 10 everyday

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!

V 7 Comments
14 Vangelis 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

Genius.

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

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

V 1 Comment
15 Max Steiner

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

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

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

16 Akira Ifukube Akira Ifukube

BEST JAPANESE COMPOSER EVER! Should be number one - asantalo

17 Clint Mansell

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!

His work is beautiful. Try listening to The fountain "The Last Man". at first, it's almost boring, but once you're at 1:30, it's stunning! "

V 5 Comments
18 Thomas Newman

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.

Thomas Newman should be WAY higher in this list. For me, he is indisputably in the top 10 of all time greatest movie composers.

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.

Any Other Name in American Beauty's score. Enough to be in the top ten.

V 5 Comments
19 Masaru Sato
20 Patrick Doyle

Sense and Sensibility :'))))) - RookWizard

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

He did Thor and Cinderella 2015

This guy is cool

V 1 Comment
21 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.

Exciting, enjoyable, memorable music.

Wrote some iconic soundtracks of the 40s...

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.

V 3 Comments
23 Henry Jackman

Loved what he did with Wreck-It Ralph!

24 Ramin Djawadi

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

He should be among top 10.

Just Wonderful!

47...are you serious... - JustAnAccount

V 3 Comments
25 Naoki Sato
26 Bernard Herrmann

Best ever. Period.

Bernard Herrmann at so low a ranking completely invalidates this list.

Herrmann should definitely be ahead of plagiarist, John Williams (compare his Jaws theme with Stravinsky's Rite of Spring. A definite rip off).

Citizen Kane, Psycho, Vertigo, North By Northwest, Taxi Driver, Sinbad, Jason and the Argonauts, Mysterious Island, The Ghost of Mrs Muir. All spectacular. My favourite composer by far

V 4 Comments
27 Alan Menken

His best one is The Little Mermaid. - asantalo

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

He composed the best Disney musicals.

28 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

29 John Powell

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.

The How to Train Your Dragon score was the best music ever made! - 17nobrien

V 1 Comment
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 Carpenter

Excellent soundtracks to accompany his excellent movies

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

34 John Debney
35 Elmer Bernstein

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)

V 1 Comment
39 Brian Tyler

Thor 2 and Iron Man 3

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

I've no words for AR. RAHMAN can compose everything, from Rock to Indian Classical, from African to Arabic music, from African to American. His level is equal to that of Mozart. He is not just great, but the Greatest. I also admire the work of Zimmer, Alexandre...etc. But Rahman is above the all. We can't place him on number 1 or No.2. He is the only one, the Super-one. Taal, Alai Puyuthey, Bombay, Slumdog Millionaire, 127 Hours, Rockstar, Chekka Chivantha Vaanam... and so on.

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"

V 1 Comment
41 Daft Punk Daft Punk Daft Punk is a French electronic music duo consisting of producers Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter.

Tron Legacy

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 Giorgio Moroder
44 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.

45 Kenji Kawai
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 Angelo Badalamenti

Twin Peaks

48 Trevor Rabin
49 Lee Byung-woo
50 Benjamin Wallfisch
PSearch List

Related Lists

Top Ten Tollywood Movie Score Composers Top 10 Best Modern Movie Composers Greatest Classical Composers Top Ten Most Famous Music Artists and Bands of All Time (Excluding Classical Composers) Greatest Rock / Pop Composers

List Stats

2,000 votes
100 listings
11 years, 274 days old

Top Remixes (24)

1. John Williams
2. Hans Zimmer
3. Jerry Goldsmith
bubba14brett
1. John Williams
2. Hans Zimmer
3. Alan Silvestri
BKAllmighty
1. Hans Zimmer
2. John Williams
3. John Powell
ChrisZimson

WRemix
View All 24

Error Reporting

See a factual error in these listings? Report it here.
P