2017 Year Retrospective, Part IV:
The 20 Best Original Movie Scores

20 Best Original Movie Scores of 2017
For Part IV of the 2017 Year Retrospective we’re looking at the Best Original Movie Scores of 2017. As with the TV scores, please take the ranking with a truck of salt because nearly all of these composers should go home feeling very proud of what they’ve accomplished last year.

Once again, I’m no music expert so I may use words to describe sounds that won’t make sense – feel free to educate. Also we’re keeping this one short and sweet (like the first score, you’ll see), because I realised writing concise yet incisive and hopefully witty copy about twenty different things is not my hidden talent.

The 20 Best Original Movie Scores of 2017

Lady Bird

20. Lady Bird

Original Score by Jon Brion

Jon Brion’s score may not have that wow factor, but it’s short and sweet tracks fit Greta Gerwig’s movie perfectly.

Best Tracks: More Hope, Packing Up, Reconcile, Lady Bird
Listen on Spotify

Mica Levi Delete Beach

19. Delete Beach

Original Score by Mica Levi

Remember how Under The Skin‘s score was odd and kinda disturbing? Wait until your hear this industrial, underground, electronic… thing. I can’t decide if it’s genius or a mess, but it’s Levi, so I’m giving her the benefit of the doubt.

Best Tracks: Interlude 2
Listen on Spotify

War For The Planet of The Apes

18. War for the Planet of the Apes

Original Score by Michael Giacchino

This year was actually quite outstanding for super-hero/action movie scores, starting with the epic work of Giacchino here. It’s angry and primal but then it moves you with soulful tracks like Don’t Luca Now or Exodus Wounds, or surprises with the fun, exotic sounds of A Tide in the Affair of Apes.

Best Tracks: A Tide in the Affair of Apes
Listen on Spotify

Prevenge

17. Prevenge

Original Score by Toydrum

80s nostalgia is running high these days and Toydrum did it right. Mix those synths with a little girl’s scary lines and I’m sold. Plus the movie looks like proper crazy fun.

Best Tracks: Biological Clockwork (The Train), Fury Pt. 1 & 2,
Listen on Spotify

Wonder Woman

16. Wonder Woman

Original Score by Rupert Gregson-Williams

Gregson-Williams’ score for Wonder Woman has some nice, pretty, emotional tunes but it’s in the epic and fierce battle tracks that we find its true excelency. No Man’s Land picks you up, Wonder Woman’s Wrath makes you feel invincible, and I don’t even have enough words to describe that Main Theme. Also can we give awards for most badass song titles?

Best Tracks: WW Main Theme, No Man’s Land, Wonder Woman’s Wrath, Hell Hath No Fury
Listen on Spotify

Blade Runner 2049

15. Blade Runner 2049

Original Score by Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch

Though probably not the best on its own, this is definitely an intriguing and incredibly atmospheric soundtrack. Fans of the original, like myself, will appreciate the iconic sounds of Blade Runner‘s dystopian, industrial world.

Best Tracks: Flight to LAPD, Rain, Wallace, Mesa, Sea Wall, Tears in the Rain
Listen on Spotify

Loving Vincent

14. Loving Vincent

Original Score by Clint Mansell

It’s Clint Mansell so yes, it’s classic, it’s beautiful, it’s poignant, it’s self-assured.

Best Tracks: At Eternity’s Gate, Still Life with Glass of Absinthe & a Carafe,
Listen on Spotify

The Post

13. The Post

Original Score by John Williams

I did not think I’d live to see the day John Williams would compose such a fine jazz score. Sure there are those typical (and brilliant) JW tracks in there too, but THE JAZZ. So smooth. So confident. If he has done this before, please tell me.

Best Tracks: The Oak Room 1971, Two Martini Lunch, The Presses Roll, Setting the Type
Listen on Spotify

Thor Ragnarok

12. Thor: Ragnarok

Original Score by Mark Mothersbaugh

Believe me, I am as shocked as you are to see another Marvel movie here. It starts out pretty standard, but enter Thor Ragnarok and holy what am I listening to. From here on out it’s a trip. One minute it’s all fine, the next it’s like they’re handing out complimentary acids. Remember Super Mario Kart’s rainbow road? Yeah. I love it.

Best Tracks: Thor Ragnarok, Where Am I?, Arena Fight, What Heroes Do, Parade, The Revolution Has Begun, Grandmaster Jam Session
Listen on Spotify

Star Wars The Last Jedi

11. Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Original Score by John Williams

Can you really make a soundtrack Best Of list and not include Star Wars? Alright, you know what it sounds like, go on.

Best Tracks: Main Title and Escape, Canto Bight, The Sacred Jedi Texts, “Chrome Dome”, Finale
Listen on Spotify

Time

10. Good Time

Original Score by Oneohtrix Point Never

I have yet to see Good Time ,and if I had to guess what it was about from the score alone, I would say drugs. But I suppose a bank robbery gone wrong and a race to save your brother works, too (though, one song is called Acid Hits?). In truth, what this score transmits is desperation, urgency. The ultimate thrill ride – or bad trip. It’s not an enjoyable listen (unless you were a fan of trance?), but it sure makes for a genius score.

Best Tracks: Bail Bonds, Hospital Escape/Access-A-Ride, Ray Wakes Up, Entry To White Castle, Flashback… the whole score, really.
Listen on Spotify

John Wick Chapter 2

09. John Wick: Chapter 2

Original Score by Tyler Bates and Joel J. Richard

Remember I told you Tyler Bates would pop up again, this time in collaboration with Joel J. Richardson. Like The Punisher, it features industrial sounds, speed and tension, and off the charts badnassness. Kind of psychadelic, too. Like John Wick, this score is mean, and ruthless, and so damn cool.

Best Tracks: Sumo Showown, Back in the Ground, Guns & Turtlenecks, Fountain Foes, John Wick Reckoning
Listen on Spotify

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri

08. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Original Score by Carter Burwell

Burwell first caught my eye with his outstanding work in HOWL, but you may know him from Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus, Burn After Reading, maybe A Serious Man, though probably True Grit. If not, you’ll certainly learn who he is this year. As you’ll see below, these desolate America sounds are my favourite.

Best Tracks: Mildred Goes to War
Listen on Spotify

The Meyerowitz Stories

07. The Meyerowitz Stories

Original Score by Randy Newman

Newman’s piano odyssey fits Baumbach’s off beat, hilarious, family story to a tee.

Best Tracks: Blueberry Pancakes, Harold’s Theme, There’s My Son
Listen on Spotify

Get Out

06. Get Out

Original Score by Michael Abels and Timothy Williams

It is no secret: I love horror scores – the creepier they are, the better. And Get Out, even with so many tracks under a minute, is creepy. It has that mystery touch that tells you something is not right, a dash of danger that soon becomes absolute hell, jump scares, and the vocals – god are they creepy. Just listen to Hypnosis, towards the end. Or Georgina at the Window. Though probably not at night. Really, they are scarier than most movies, that’s how good a soundtrack this is.

Best Tracks: Sikiliza Kwa Wahenga (Main Title), Iced Tea, Georgina at the Window, Hypnosis, Get Out, The Sunken Place, Chris Escapes
Listen on Spotify

A Ghost Story

05. A Ghost Story

Original Score by Daniel Hart

All it takes is those first couple of chords to get your attention. Hart’s score is as mysterious as Lowery’s movie. It’s minimal and beautiful, but in a second it can and will turn dark and terrifying on you. Again, the damnn vocals.

Best Tracks: Whatever Hour You Woke, One Door Closes, Gentleman Caller, Viventes Enim, Sciunt Se Esse Mortui
Listen on Spotify

Wind River

04. Wind River

Original Score by Nick Cave & Warren Ellis

For TEN years I have loved this duo as they absolutely slay the american wild, wasteland: they did it in my all time favourite The Assassination of Jesse James, came back for Hell or High Water, and did it again last year with Wind River. To top it off, Cave actually sings in this one.

Best Tracks: First Journey, First Body, Hunter, Three Seasons in Wyoming, Wind River
Listen on Spotify

The Shape of Water

03. The Shape of Water

Original Score by Alexandre Desplat

Twice Desplat has surprised me: first with his work The Grand Budapest Hotel (still the best), and now here. This score is like… a quirky, happy walk. It’s hopeful and sweet – impossible not to love.

Best Tracks: Elisa’s Theme, Elisa and Zelda, The Silence of Love, Underwater Kiss, Overflow of Love,
Listen on Spotify

Phantom Thread

02. Phantom Thread

Original Score by Jonny Greenwood

Words cannot express how much I freaking adore this man’s work. Forget Radiohead! That’s how good a composer he is. He has collaborated with Paul Thomas Anderson at least since There Will Be Blood (the best score), did The Master, and now they’re back and you think will this ever not work? I don’t think so. This is really a tie with number one.

Best Tracks: Every. Damn. Track.
Listen on Spotify

01. Dunkirk

Original Score by Hans Zimmer

Dunkirk is an intimate look at war – more specifically, at fear. Those men were as terrified as they were brave, and Hans Zimmer made sure you knew it. Yes, Branagh’s face was pretty obvious too but, more than in any other movie this year (that I’ve seen of course), this score was effective.

No, more than that: it was a living part of Dunkirk, a crucial element without which this film wouldn’t be half as good as it is. And it is great. So that’s saying something. Zimmer or Greenwood – one of them needs to take that Oscar home.

Best Tracks: The Mole, Supermarine, The Oil
Listen on Spotify

As you can see, WOW. Do share your favourites and recommendations below, and don’t miss tomorrow’s Oscar nominations announcement!
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6 Comments

  1. January 22, 2018 / 9:54 PM

    Oh, Dunkirk, number 1, of course! Best movie I’ve ever seen. Straight 10/10 for me!

    Great list! I haven’t seen all the movies on here, but I’m excited! I’m not a music expert by any means, but I often think score is overlooked. Soundtracks get plenty of attention, but scores, the subtle music you hardly hear, but get you in the zone? Too little appreciation!

    • January 23, 2018 / 1:18 PM

      For me too! I’m no expert either, but totally agree. We usually notice soundtracks because we recognise the songs, whereas a score, besides being new, is also not exactly meant to be noticed but maybe more like you said, to get you in the zone, make us feel certain things.

  2. January 24, 2018 / 3:43 PM

    Really enjoyed this list as well. Great call on Good Time and A Ghost Story, both scores I haven’t heard praised enough (if at all). It’s a toss-up for Phantom Thread and Dunkirk as my favorite score of the year as well. They’re very different but both very powerful. (PS: Love your pick for Best Tracks for Phantom Thread. So true.)

    • January 24, 2018 / 4:40 PM

      Thanks, Alex! Glad you liked the scores from Good Time and A Ghost Story, too. : )

  3. January 25, 2018 / 3:06 PM

    Too bad Wind River has been so shut out from the award season, just because it was associated with a shitty man for a bit – Sheridan actually got the movie back from “him”, and yet, what good did it do? The movie was completely neglected. I’m so sad about it. I get it, but all of THAT should not take away the skill and superbness of the movie, the brilliance of the movie. ESPECIALLY since Baby Driver got nominations!! Ugh.

    Anyway, I got side tracked because I saw Wind River here and I love that you highlighted it! All around, fantastic list!

    • January 25, 2018 / 4:57 PM

      I agree, it’s unfair to the hundreds of people involved in making Wind River. Thanks! It’s really quite a fantastic score, Nick Cave and Warren Ellis always deliver.

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