Best Movie Score Composers


The Top Ten

1 Hans Zimmer Hans Zimmer

The most amazing soundtracks in the entire world:
The Lion King
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

His music is beautiful. I can see why people would want John Williams in the lead but Hans Zimmer is extraordinary by his music and has different variety. Jaws, Star Wars, Jurassic Park, Superman, all big and flashy but that's it. It's nothing like the true beauty in the childhood soundtracks- The Lion King, Prince of Egypt, etc.

Yes, there are composers who make the catchy soundtracks. Zimmer, however, makes soundtracks which simply send shivers down your spine - literally, I get the chills. He is a great, for certain. His music is absolutely beautiful.

Man of steel, listen to the soundtrack!

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

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.

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.

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

Just listen to “L’arena”. Then listen to “Rabbia e Tarantella”. He can go from uplifting and inspirational to dark and menacing. His versatility is what does it for me. Many composers are versatile, but none are so skilful with that versatility apart from Ennio Morricone.

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3 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.


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4 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

Great great music

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5 James Horner James Horner

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

Field of dreams, Dad, Searching for bobby fischer and many more.

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6 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.

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7 Alan Silvestri

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!

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

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8 James Newton Howard

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

9 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!

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10 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

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

Number 1, not 11.

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The Newcomers

? John Williams

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.

Williams is the best by far

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The Contenders

11 Michael Giacchino

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.

Respect the incredible talent and creativity of all of these composers, but Giacchino can tackle any project. He uses the full orchestra plus unique and atypical instruments and should easily be in the top 3 with Williams and Zimmer.

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12 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.

His work on Laputa: Castle in the Sky is truly beautiful. It pulls at my heartstrings every time I listen to it.

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13 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

Any of picks from this list could be the “right one”, but Poledouris gets my nod, especially for his musical score for Lonesome Dove, which perfectly matches the personalities of the characters and the mood of each scene. It is a classic example of how a great score enhances a script and plays an essential role establishing the tone of the story.
Like Horner, Paledouris left us far too soon.

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14 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.

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15 Clint Mansell

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! "

He is awesome maybe John Williams was once the best but his musics became boring and all are the same but for Clint Mansell he compose sth new and stunning he must be amongst top 10 not the 11th the 11th can be good for John Williams :D (personal idea)

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16 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

17 Dimitri Tiomkin

Exciting, enjoyable, memorable music.

Wrote some iconic soundtracks of the 40s...

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

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

He seems a great wealth of emotion.
He once was a member of "Aphrodite's Child" in which "Demis Roussos" joined.
His notable OST are "Chariots of Fire", 'Blade Runner" and ""Conquest of Paradise".

19 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.

NARNIA! The soundtrack made the movie pretty good. - NymeriaWaters

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20 Henry Jackman

Loved what he did with Wreck-It Ralph!

21 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.

Same as other commenters, How to Train Your Dragon score truly elevated that film. Felt there was such a variety and originality between each of the cues that somehow fit the entire film wonderfully as a whole and make a great listen on the soundtrack. Definitely his best work of all. Forbidden Friendship, Test Drive and Romantic Flight the most.

...And then then he went and pulled it off again with How to Train Your Dragon 2 score (Battle of the Bewilderbeast, Flying with Mother, Stoick's Ship). Excellent mix of both previous and new themes. Am greatly anticipating his score for HTTYD3 which sounds to be even more dark and dramatic.

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22 Akira Ifukube

BEST JAPANESE COMPOSER EVER! Should be number one - asantalo

23 Naoki Sato
24 Nino Rota

La dolce vita
8 1/2
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

25 Masaru Sato
26 Max Steiner

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.

27 Wojciech Kilar
28 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.

29 Randy Newman

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

30 Bernard Herrmann

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.

Years ahead of his time. Invented countless musical techniques, had a career that started with Citizen Kane and ended with Taxi Driver. He also trained John Williams.

He composed the best Hitchcock's movie : "Psycho" and more like "Vertigo",...

31 Fumio Hayasaka
32 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.

33 Brian Tyler

Thor 2 and Iron Man 3

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 Mel Brooks
39 A.R. Rahman 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.

40 Alan Menken

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

He composed the best Disney musicals.

41 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

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42 Kenji Kawai
43 Angelo Badalamenti
44 Trevor Rabin
45 Lee Byung-woo
46 Giorgio Moroder
47 Henry Mancini

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

48 Ramin Djawadi

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

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.

Just Wonderful!

Rising star

49 Ilayaraja Ilayaraja Ilaiyaraaja is an Indian film composer who works in the South Indian cinema but predominantly in Tamil since the late 1970s.

His music will speak to our body and soul. We can feel a eternal world.

Greatest Ever

God of music

Listen to ilayaraja's bgm' s..t hen you guys decide who is the king of kings...

50 Alfred Newman
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List Stats

2,000 votes
98 listings
10 years, 274 days old

Top Remixes (21)

1. Ennio Morricone
2. Joe Hisaishi
3. Dimitri Tiomkin
1. John Williams
2. Hans Zimmer
3. Jerry Goldsmith
1. Howard Shore
2. John Williams
3. Hans Zimmer

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