I know for a fact this list isn't going to be one a lot of people will agree with. Most of the choices are "mainstream", but I don't care. I've been around myself enough to feel like I have at least a decent grasp of what music I like. Not totally sure, but I think so.
So here is my list, in all of its splendor:
#5 - Harry Potter And The Sorcerer's Stone
- by John Williams
John Williams is almost guaranteed a spot at the top of any greatest movie score composers list you'll lay your eyes on, so as (what I believe to be) his best work of an entire decade, that alone should tell you how great this score is. As the series progressed, Harry Potter grew darker and darker in tone, so it was only natural for the films (and, subsequently, the music) to adapt as well. The heavier, grander design of music from later in the series was also great, but it was the light, whimsical nature of this first score that I found so delightful. When I hear this music, I can't help but to think of the wonderful innocence of early Harry Potter. It was pure magic, and though the last few movies as a whole were definitely better, it's the music from the first that has stuck with me the longest.
End Credits - John Williams
#4 - Amelie
- by Yann Tiersen
It's been quite a while since I've seen the movie itself, so the score's exact relation to scenes within the film isn't entirely clear to me at the moment, but having listened through the soundtrack several times on its own, I can't see any good reason why this shouldn't be on the list. This music is unlike anything else on this list. Slower portions of the score, which prominently features piano tracks, are gorgeously-composed -- on a side-note, the track "Comptine d'Un Autre Ete" is one of my most played songs on iTunes. A large amount of the music in this movie is jovial and upbeat in spirit, featuring heavy accordion, aiding the wonderful imagery of the movie, which is visually astonishing. A score that perfectly captures the essence of a movie is a rarity, and though this is much different than any of the rest of the items on this list, it still deserves to be here.
Comptine d'Un Autre Ete- Yann Tiersen
#3 - Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring
- by Howard Shore
The word "epic" was practically invented as a way to describe these movies. Between the enormous battle scenes, elaborate set designs, and sweeping cinematography, everything about these movies is massive. But all of this would amount to little, were it not for the music. More than any other item on this list, this score features an incredible range in scope that I have never seen before in a single movie. And yes, I'm just talking about just the first Lord Of The Rings. As the film progresses, the music adapts and enhances every situation, from early scenes in The Shire, to events surrounding the Nazgul, Rivendell, and into the Mines Of Moria. While the later two installments may have a grandeur that the first can't touch, the incredible range of music found in this movie is far greater, as it moves from setting to setting. I honestly don't know how they managed to create a musical score to match the sheer magnitude and scope of the Lord Of The Rings movies, but somehow they managed. And this is the best of the three.
Bridge Of Khazad Dum - Howard Shore
#2 - Pirates Of The Caribbean: The Curse Of The Black Pearl
- by Klaus Badelt
Rivaling Indiana Jones for the title of most adventurous musical score of all-time, it wasn't until I had listened to the full soundtrack on its own that I realized just how fantastic the music in this movie really is. The main theme alone is enough to get you ready for action, but there is much more to it than that. Lighter segments used during early (Captain) Jack Sparrow scenes are pure adventure, with an inherent lightheartedness that's impossible not to love. And as Barbossa and his crew work their way into the story, the music takes on a significantly darker, chaotic, and supernatural tone. And the romantic score, which while Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley may not be a particularly interesting pair, is beautiful and grand to the point where it wouldn't feel out-of-place in any number of romance epics in a similar vein as Gone With The Wind or Doctor Zhivago. All of this along with the music found in the large-scale action sequences, which have the ability to instantly make you wish you were a pirate. Feel how you want about the movie itself (which I still find to be incredibly entertaining), but it's virtually impossible not to appreciate the music.
One Last Shot - Klaus Badelt
#1 - The Dark Knight
- by Hans Zimmer & James Newton Howard
While John Williams is virtually a lock as the greatest film score composer of all-time, Hans Zimmer is equally as epic -- I'm going to use the word "epic" a lot here, because it's one of the few words I can think of to describe a musical score of this magnitude. The Dark Knight is the greatest superhero movie ever made. That's pretty much a fact. Taking into account the scope, tone, and The Joker (which is truly one of the greatest performances/characters in film history), the music had to be something other-worldly to complement it adequately. I didn't think it was possible, but listening to this back-to-back with music from Lord Of The Rings, I was amazed at how much more powerful this score was. Maybe not "bigger", per se, but far more impactful. The slow, brooding moments are incredible, exploding into some of the most powerful musical segments I've ever heard. It's impossible for me to listen to this and not get goosebumps. Yet I still feel my words fail to describe just how awesome the music in this movie is, so I'll let Hans Zimmer (and apparently James Newton Howard as well) do the talking. The following clip is a 16-minute-long segment of the musical score from this movie. If, after listening to this, you can't see why it reached #1 on my list, turn the volume up higher. You'll see what I'm talking about.
A Dark Knight - Hans Zimmer & James Newton Howard