Pitchfork's 50 Best Movie Scores of All Time

With the Oscars coming up this Sunday, Pitchfork is celebrating with our first Music & Movies week.

Now that we’ve looked at the best soundtracks in film, let’s turn to the best scores. We’re defining scores as original music composed for a film, with recurring motifs and almost always without vocals. This type of work is often the result of a collaboration between a composer and director, and created in tandem with a movie to steadily enhance the narrative onscreen. Put another way: Whereas a soundtrack highlights moments of a movie, a score blankets the entire film. (We’re only looking at narrative films in this list; we are not including documentaries.)

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Original list: The 50 Best Movie Scores of All Time

Read notes
  • Blade Runner

    1

  • Under the Skin

    2

  • There Will Be Blood

    3

  • The Virgin Suicides

    4

  • The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

    5

  • A Clockwork Orange

    6

  • Elevator to the Gallows

    7

  • Psycho

    8

  • Shaft

    9

  • Halloween

    10

  • The Social Network

    11

  • Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai

    12

  • Taxi Driver

    13

  • The Third Man

    14

  • Dead Man

    15

  • Eraserhead

    16

  • Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters

    17

  • Solaris

    18

  • Drive

    19

  • Aguirre: The Wrath of God

    20

  • Phantom Thread

    21

  • Rocky

    22

  • Casino Royale

    23

  • Akira

    24

  • The Hired Hand

    25

  • Annihilation

    26

  • The Empire Strikes Back

    27

  • Contempt

    28

  • Vertigo

    29

  • The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover

    30

  • Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence

    31

  • Sicario

    32

  • Fantastic Planet

    33

  • Breakfast at Tiffany's

    34

  • Ceddo

    35

  • Anatomy of a Murder

    36

  • Walkabout

    37

  • Once Upon a Time in America

    38

  • The Tale of Genji

    39

  • Jaws

    40

  • Blue Velvet

    41

  • Suspiria

    42

  • Koyaanisqatsi

    43

  • Jackie

    44

  • Sophie's Ways

    45

  • The Pink Panther

    46

  • Batman

    47

  • Teesri Manzil

    48

  • Trouble Man

    49

  • Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

    50