2013 was a fine year for film scores, with many solid scores. While I don't think there was a film score that will go on to be one of those all-time classics, as far as film scores that are well utilized in their irrespective films, 2013 was a good year. As is usual with a list such as this, there were a few film scores that I did like that ultimately did not make the cut, but that's just the way these things shake out from time to time.
What you will find below are the 10 Best Scores of 2013, with samples of the best tracks from the score to further illustrate why I think the score was one of 2013's best, so let's get the 2013 celebration off to a start and countdown the Top 10 Film Scores of 2013!
10. Steve Jablonsky, Ender's Game
This was a film score that never really had a memorable, easy to hum theme, and yet it was so well orchestrated, it worked at every juncture within the film. Jablonsky's clever use of the strings section managed to create the needed emotions that Ender and his comrades go through whilst at Battle School. From creating fear, to wonder, the strings, along with the rest of the orchestra backing them up, make you feel.
9. Brian Tyler, Iron Man 3
Composer Brian Tyler was Marvel Studios' go-to man this year, composing not only Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World, but also their new Marvel Studios' fanfare that plays before all of their movies. I could have gone with Tyler's work for Thor, but I feel the theme he wrote for Iron Man 3 was just more memorable and fit the over-the-top, eccentric heroism of Tony Stark so perfectly, I couldn't omit it. Just listen to the awesome End Credits' music Tyler wrote utilizing the theme.
8. Hans Zimmer, Man of Steel
Funny enough, I am not a fan of this film, but I must give credit where it is due, and Hans Zimmer did a very good job of making us forget John Williams' classic Superman score by pretty much going in a completely different direction. Zimmer's score for Man of Steel was very quiet, with tons of piano echoing a tragic heroism, rather than the patriotic sounding fanfares of Christopher Reeve. It doesn't hurt that the actual theme Zimmer concocted, utilizing heavy use of percussion and cascading strings, is simply epic.
7. Hans Zimmer, Rush
Two Zimmer scores back-to-back, but when you're one of the busiest film composers in the industry, that's bound to happen. Zimmer's score for Ron Howard's F-1 racing drama, Rush, was not his most original and often echoes some of his other scores, in particular The Thin Red Line and Inception, but it's the way the score always highlighted the emotions of the moment that makes it so powerful. Then there was Zimmer's clever use of distorted guitars to often give that Seventies' rock sound to accentuate the 1970s' setting, and it distinguishes this score enough from his many others to earn this spot on this list.
6. James Newton Howard, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
If it ain't broke, don't fix it. That's what James Newton Howard did when he returned to the world of Panem to score the second Hunger Games film. He utilized every single theme he wrote for the first film in the second film, while also creating a few new ones. His score was near perfect the first time out, and now with these new themes, it is irresistible and captures the spirit of these films and their characters.
5. Ramin Djawadi, Pacific Rim
Giant monsters vs. giant robots, that's all you need to say to anyone to get them to see this movie, but it's not the type of film that you'd expect to find a great film score, alas Ramin Djawadi proves you wrong. By giving this film a score that can only be called orchestral rock music, the score manages to be as awesome as the action that is occurring onscreen.
4. Steven Price, Gravity
This is another case of a film score not really having a memorable theme at its center, but what gives Steven Price such a high place on this list, is once again, how his score perfectly captures the moment. The score for this film highlights the emotions that Sandra Bullock's Dr. Ryan Stone are feeling at every juncture in this film, from sad to even heroic. When Price really kicks the music into high gear after Dr. Stone crawls out of the water and finds her footing on dry land, there might not have been a better music cue for a film all year long.
3. John Ottman, Jack the Giant Slayer
Every now and again there is a film score that is better than the movie that it was written for, and that was the case for Jack the Giant Slayer. As a straight forward interpretation of a fairy tale, Jack the Giant Slayer works and is fun and entertaining, but the score is what really made the film for me. Ottman's use of these highly memorable, John Williams-esque themes was what earned it this spot.
2. Randy Newman, Monsters University
In many ways, Newman is Pixar's go-to guy, and he further shows why with his work for Monsters University. Newman's score accentuates the collegiate vibe of the entire film through the use of the Blue Devils Drum Corp, with their insanely awesome drumline providing the percussion for much of the score. Then there is the alma mater that Newman wrote for Monsters University, and it forms the memorable theme for the entire film.
1. Michael Giacchino, Star Trek Into Darkness
If there is a film composer currently working that could be a successor to John Williams, it is Michael Giacchino. His score for 2009's Star Trek was quite possibly the best of his career, and so it's only natural that his score for the sequel, Star Trek Into Darkness, would also hit me in the right way. Giacchino revisits all of the themes he wrote previously, giving you this feeling of coming home after a long way away, while also creating awesome new themes, like the one he wrote for Khan. However, what really makes Giacchino's work with these Star Trek films so remarkable is that he does not forget the original Trek theme written for the show and still utilizes it from time-to-time in the film. This is just the best, most remarkable film score of 2013.
And there you have it. Tune in two days from now as I will be posting my 10 Favorite Cinematic Moments of 2013!