Sounding Off: Top 10 Soundtracks and Scores of 2010

by: GATW Staff
December 27th, 2010

Although I found this year to be a bit of a disappointment when it came to the films released (obviously the ten films selected for my Top Ten list are excluded from this statement), I look back and marvel at the amazing music we were given as the year comes to a close .

From scores to soundtracks, this year really did deliver from the fine-tuning of classical orchestrations to completely reinventing them to introducing new artists to reacquainting us with well-known ones. Some have become old friends, some continue to impress, and at the end of it all there is one word that seems to sum up music for film in 2010: electric. 

10. HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON
Classic and full-bodied, John Powell’s score proved animated films are not just for kids. A musical journey on its own, the score is strong both on screen and off.

9. SHUTTER ISLAND
Off-putting and almost hard to listen to at times, the confusing world of SHUTTER ISLAND was supported by a soundtrack that bounced from style to style and created the perfect partner to a place where nothing is as it seems.

8. JACK GOES BOATING
A delightful mix of old and new artists, I have been listening to this soundtrack all year and have yet to tire of it. There are always a few soundtracks that stay in the mix with me and this one has joined that group.

7. TWILIGHT: ECLIPSE (SOUNDTRACK)
This soundtrack introduced me to The Black Keys. I could stop there, but the soundtrack as a whole is another impressive mix of alternative artists you may have heard of, along with some new discoveries.

6. NEVER LET ME GO
If you ever wondered what hauntingly beautiful sounds like, composer Rachel Portman gives you the answer while simultaneously bringing Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel to life. It is a rare moment when a film ends and the score stays with me and, in this case, never let me go.

5. MONSTERS
Composer Jon Hopkins infused the stripped down world of MONSTERS with heart and just a touch of electronic elements. For a film that was not always uplifting, this score always put a smile on my face. Watch out for Hopkins, there is something here worth listening to.

4. RABBIT HOLE
Bringing light into an unquestionably dark moment, this score leaves you feeling hopeful, not morose. Flowing naturally from beginning to end, you can easily listen to this collection on a loop not realizing when it ends and begins again.

3. INCEPTION
Iconic. A single note is now so recognizable it can replace saying the film’s title. Mixing Hans Zimmer’s classic film composition, with the electronic guitar of Johnny Marr, created something truly unique. “Time” has done just that and stood the test of as one of my favorite pieces of the year.

2. BLACK SWAN
The off-kilter world of director Darren Aronofsky and the musical styling of composer Clint Mansell have always gone hand-in-hand, but in BLACK SWAN Mansell takes on the challenge of creating a sinister ballet and more than succeeds. I found this score more terrifying than most horror scores because you never knew when or where things would take a turn, but at the same time, I did not want it to end.

1. THE SOCIAL NETWORK
Bringing electronic score to a new level, Reznor and Ross prove their collaboration works just as well on screen as it does in the studio for any NIN album. Literally electrifying the film, I have always enjoyed electronic scores, but this one showed me that I have only heard the beginning of the possibilities that genre can create in film score. Plus I will never be able to hear “In the Hall of the Mountain King” the same way again.

Disclaimer: It was nearly impossible to listen to every soundtrack and score released over the past year so if you see one you enjoyed excluded here, it may be because I did not have a chance to listen to it before the year’s end. If there was a selection you particularly loved that I did not list here, feel free to let me know!

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