10 best original film scores

Published 22 February 2019

Epic and hypnotic, Hans Zimmer’s innovative score immerses you in the film’s intertwining layers of dreams and memories. It’s no surprise that it won a BAFTA Award for Best Sound.

Anyone who’s seen Inception will know that Edith Piaf’s most famous song, Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien, is the song used to signal a “kick” to another reality. Shortly after the film’s release, Zimmer revealed that the entire score actually originates from the song – the music is all based on different divisions and multiplications of the tempo. 

Jurassic Park – John Williams (1993)

The Jurassic Park score mixes the primal world of the dinosaurs with the humans’ modern world through a combination of percussive instruments and synths. It’s contemporary meets ancient, and equal parts melodic and terrifying.

Up – Michael Giacchino (2009)


From the jaunty jazz theme in the opening titles, Michael Giacchino’s dynamic score continues to heighten the film’s emotional scenes and its spirit of adventure.

Up was the first Disney film since Pocahontas, released 14 years previously, to win the Academy Award for Best Original Score, and the first Pixar film to win the award. It also took home an Oscar, a Golden Globe, a BAFTA and a Grammy.

Interstellar – Hans Zimmer (2014)



Strings and organ feature prominently in Hans Zimmer’s score. This sci-fi symphony is sparse and eerie, drawing attention to the fantastic cinematography and inviting deep thought and reflection. 

La La Land – Justin Hurwitz (2016)



La La Land’s colourful, jazzy and eclectic score is arguably what makes the film. Unsurprisingly, it peaked at number 1 on the UK Albums Chart and won Academy Awards for Best Original Score and Best Original Song for ‘City of Stars’.

The Piano – Michael Nyman (1993)



The reflective, lyrical music gives The Piano the emotional power that defines the film. The main theme is based on a traditional Scottish melody titled ‘Gloomy Winter’s Noo Awa’.

Batman Trilogy – Hans Zimmer & James Newton Howard (2005-2012) 



Unusually for superhero films, the main theme isn’t introduced until the end of the first film, Batman Begins. As a result, the trilogy doesn’t feel like a stereotypical superhero movie; the deep brass tones and synths make it darker, more dramatic and primitive. 

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl – Klaus Badelt (2003)



A swashbuckling and energetic score that transports you out to sea. One of the notable characteristics of the film’s music is the use of the horn for melody, frequently doubled by various string instruments.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – John Williams (2001)



What says magical more than Hedwig’s Theme? Starting out softly and subtly, the layers of strings and horn gradually build, sweeping you away into another world. The playfulness of the instruments throughout amplifies the film’s sense of wonder and adventure; it’s almost impossible not to get lost in the magic.  

The Grand Budapest Hotel – Alexandre Desplat (2014)



This quirky comedy has an equally quirky score. Desplat creates an original Mittel-European world through an eclectic selection of everything from flamenco guitars to baroque style harpsichords and strings – certainly one to listen to if you’re looking for something a little different. 

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