Best Of The Best Pictures: Best Original Score

Now we’re really getting somewhere. A lot of Best Picture winners have great original scores, and there are some really solid soundtracks that I’m leaving out of the top 25. Just so you know, West Side Story, My Fair Lady, The Sound Of Music, Oliver and Chicago are ineligible because their scores were adapted from pre-existing musicals.

25.) Dances With Wolves (WON)
24.) The Godfather (nominated, then revoked)
23.) The Last Emperor (WON)
22.) The English Patient (WON)
21.) Gigi (WON)
20.) The Godfather Part II (WON)
19.) On The Waterfront (nominated)
18.) Slumdog Millionaire (WON)
17.) Casablanca (nominated)
16.) Hamlet (nominated)
15.) Braveheart (nominated)
14.) The Sting (nominated)
13.) A Beautiful Mind (WON)
12.) Shakespeare In Love (WON)
11.) Chariots Of Fire (WON)

Some great work so far. Now for the runners up.

10.) Rebecca (nominated)

It’s almost happy music, but there’s just something slightly off about it that puts you on edge, very reminiscent of the situation that our leading lady is in.

9.) All About Eve (nominated)

Really establishes the glamour of the movie. I especially like the deliberately sappy music that plays when Eve tells her sob story near the beginning.

8.) Schindler’s List (WON)

It’s a pretty famous movie theme, and it really emphasizes the absolutely horrible things that humanity is capable of.

7.) Ben-Hur (WON)

Really succeeds in making the movie feel larger than life, and has a bit of a religious feel to it, which works well in making the film succeed.

6.) The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King (WON)

Talk about larger than life. The music played a big part in why I never got bored throughout this 9-hour trilogy, and the final film really felt bigger than the rest. Great work by Howard Shore.

And now, the top five. We have three Oscar winners and two Oscar nominees and some really amazing work all around! And once again, I’d like to stress that these are in alphabetical order.



While I highly respect the music in The Lion King, in my opinion, this is the soundtrack that should have won the Oscar. Alan Silvestri has become one of my favorite composers, between this, Back To The Future, and The Polar Express. He’s able to capture so many different moods so perfectly through music. There are some beautiful themes in the suite I linked to, each one of them beautiful in their own right. And the running theme is some great exercise music.



Initially, It’s really shocking that this film didn’t win Original Score. Then you remember, “Oh yeah. The Wizard Of Oz. Man, 1939 was a strong year.” Needless to say, this theme will likely stay in your head, and it’s memorability as well as scope is what secured it this nomination. And if you don’t agree with my opinion, frankly my dear, I don’t give a… you know.



I spent a long amount of time staring at the main menu for this one, so I kept hearing the main theme over and over again. And I never got bored of it. While this movie is long, the music was very good, and any scene involving music at least had something to be enjoyed. The music is very epic, but in a very unique way.



While the story is pretty standard, the combination of the film’s beautiful score and cinematography convince you that the film is more beautiful than it really is. Listening to the Out Of Africa theme is like meditation. It just calms me down but also makes me stop and appreciate all the joys in life. The use of music in the plane scene in particular is just so powerful.



R.I.P. James Horner. While much of it is the melody of My Heart Will Go On, there’s plenty of other great tunes in here that are used brilliantly. You can call the soundtrack manipulative if you want, but to me, this soundtrack is beautiful and very effective. I’ve said before that what makes the movie works is the emotions, and the score perfectly matches the slow burn of human suffering and the more tense scenes of destruction.


4.) Titanic

2.) Platoon

1.) All Quiet On The Western Front
1.) Amadeus
1.) Casablanca
1.) Crash
1.) Forrest Gump
1.) Gigi
1.) Going My Way
1.) Gone With The Wind
1.) Lawrence Of Arabia
1.) The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King
1.) Midnight Cowboy
1.) Out Of Africa
1.) Rebecca
1.) Unforgiven

3 thoughts on “Best Of The Best Pictures: Best Original Score

  1. great choices. I love the themes of Dances with wolves and Schindler’s list, so they would have replaced GWTW and LoA on my top 5. FG really shoulda won that year. I totally agree that Titanic’s theme is clearly the best music that expresses the feelings from the movie.

  2. I used to listen to Titanic soundtrack for weeks. Always put in on when going to bed. I should do that again. It’s really beautiful. (But to me the best is still Lord of the Rings, part one, I guess.)

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