Best film music of the 2000s


Movie soundtracks enhance the movie watching experience. They give weight to the story and to specific moments in it. They convey emotions ranging from joy to terror depending on the story the score supports. Scores and soundtracks are an integral part of the movie making and watching experience.

In many films, the score becomes a character in the film. Think back to the star wars movies and the public’s first encounter with Darth Vader. Chances are the disturbing and disturbing music composed by the popular John Williams created as Dark’s signature song automatically started playing in your head. Think about the Harry Potter movies and how the main theme is instantly recognizable and makes the hairs of fans of this movie franchise stand on end. This is the power that truly excellent film music can have over audiences.

During the 2000s, Hollywood released some epic blockbuster movies with equally epic scores. Composers Hans Zimmer, Howard Shore, James Horner and many others marked the history of cinema with the films for which they created music, respectively, DaVinci Code, Pirates of the Caribbean, and The perfect storm. These are far from the only memorable film scores from the 2000s, so let’s take a look at a few others.

9 Corpse Bride (composed by Danny Elfman)

corpse bride
Pictures from Warner Bros.

Composer Danny Elfman is also known for his career as a film composer (Impossible mission, men in black films, those of Sam Raimi Spider Man movies, to name a few) as he is for the decades he spent in the new wave band Oingo Boingo and the theme he composed for The simpsons. He frequently collaborates with director Tim Burton (working on 16 of his films) as he did in this case. Elfman’s score for Corpse bride conveys the creepy vibe of the film with surprising tenderness and depth.

8 The Queen (composed by Alexandre Desplat)

The Queen
Distribution of the path

In 2007, the French composer Alexandre Desplat landed his first job composing the music for a film. This movie was The Queen, and it was later nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Score for his efforts. This experience put him on the map, and he continued to compose scores for the latest Harry Potter movies as well as Argo, little women, the king’s speech, and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and was nominated for the Oscar for all of these movies. He won the Oscar for Best Original Score for The Grand Budapest Hotel and The shape of water. But that was his royal score for The Queen who magnificently skyrocketed his career in America.

seven The Perfect Storm (composed by James Horner)

The cast of Perfect Storm on a boat
Warner Bros.

Composer James Horner is best known for his Oscar-winning score for Titanic; incidentally, he also co-wrote “My Heart Will Go On” for Celine Dion, and also won the Oscar for it. However, it is his perfect score for The Perfect Storm it earned it a spot on the best film scores of the 2000s. The Storm in the Movie arguably played a major role in the film, and Horner’s score gives the Storm a voice, expressing how much she is powerful and deadly.

Related: Hollywood Reacts to James Horner’s Death

6 The Da Vinci Code (composed by Hans Zimmer)

Da Vinci's Code
Pictures of Colombia

Hans Zimmer is one of the most prolific composers in history. The German-born composer made his debut in the early 1980s and has written music for over 150 films. His music is unmistakable; his signature sound is often synthesizers with steel drum accompaniment. Zimmer is known for scoring rain man, Driving Miss Daisy, and The Lion King. But it’s his work on the The “Da Vinci Code” which earned him a spot on this list. The film, based on Dan Brown’s novel, might have been banal and mocked (and still is by some) if not for Zimmer’s soaring score. It conveyed a feeling of church music, which brought to life the scenes of Tom Hanks searching for evidence to clear him of the murder he was accused of.

5 Pride and Prejudice (composed by Dario Marianelli)

Pride and Prejudice
Universal Images / Focus Features

The Italian composer Dario Marianelli was inspired by Beethoven for his score for Pride and Prejudice. The 2005 film was his first major film score and since then the film’s director, Joe Wright, has hired Marianelli on several occasions. Pride and Prejudice stands out in Marianelli’s CV because, as a period piece, the score strikes the perfect balance between modern audiences and 19th-century history. Marianelli was nominated for an Academy Award for his Pride and Prejudice score, which perfectly complemented the bourgeois on-screen romance.

4 Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon (composed by Tan Dun)

Netflix announces Crouching Tiger 2 as first original movie
Sony Pictures Classics

The score for Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon was composed by Tan Dun and features several solo cello movements which were performed by the venerable Yo-Yo Ma. The score has been performed by the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, the Shanghai National Orchestra and the Shanghai Percussion Ensemble. Dun also took his score and arranged it into a cello concerto called Crouching Tiger Concerto. The entire score was put together in just two weeks, and the urgency parallels the film’s jaw-dropping action excellently.

Related: The Best Film Scores of the 70s

3 Gladiator (composed by Hans Zimmer and Lisa Gerrard)

DreamWorks / Universal Images

Gladiator was released in 2000, and in the more than two decades since, the film’s score has become one of the most well-known works of the prolific Hans Zimmer. Throughout the film, Zimmer was careful to convey the mood of the scene in his score with simple yet memorable and emotional melodies. Gladiator (and the moving, visceral music with which it ends) owes much of its success to Zimmer’s score.

2 Pirates of the Caribbean (Composed by supervisor Hans Zimmer, Klaus Badelt and seven other composers)

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl owes as much to its score as to its scenography and Johnny Depp’s perfect acting. But the story of the birth of this epic score is one of pure chaos. Hans Zimmer was approached to compose the score, but he was working on another film (as he always seems to do). Zimmer came to the film to oversee the score with Klaus Badelt leading a team of eight composers (including himself) to put together the entire score in just three weeks, and the desperation behind it is palpable in the film.

1 Lord of the Rings Trilogy (composed by Howard Shore)

New Cinema Line/Warner Brothers Pictures

The scores of Canadian-born composer Howard Shore for the Lord of the Rings trilogy can only be called epic. For her efforts, Shore has won three Academy Awards, two Golden Globes and four Grammy Awards, among other accolades. The first one the Lord of the Rings the film opens with a monotone – which sets the tone for Shore’s soaring score. Monochord is an ancient sound that has been around for thousands of years, making it the perfect music to offset Galadriel’s speech in the trilogy’s opening scene. Across all the films, Shore’s score is filled with epic grace, whimsical whimsical moments, and soulful emotional tones, and is one of the best and most memorable of the decade.

Holly Hunter stands by a piano on the beach in The Piano
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