Film scores from the 2000s - Top 10 ‘Hidden Gems’
by Steven Sharratt
Following on from my article on Top 10 ‘Hidden Gems’ from the 1990s, here is the sequel, featuring unsung heroes from the years 2000 to 2009.
The ‘noughties’ was another great decade for film music. Classics that stand out include The Dark Knight, Gladiator, Inception, the Harry Potter franchise and The Lord of the Rings trilogy. I bet anyone reading this will have at least one of these soundtracks in their collection already!
Therefore, this top 10 is designed to help you discover a small fraction of ‘hidden gems’ from the 2000s. These scores aren’t necessarily the best from that decade – but they’re still great scores that have often been overlooked. Hopefully it will help inspire you to discover some great new music.
(These scores are presented in chronological order and not in order of preference)
Dinosaur (2000) James Newton Howard
Dinosaur has not had the love and affection that most Disney animated films have and has largely been forgotten about. However, James Newton Howard’s score is very memorable, featuring heroism, romance and action, all brought together with an African inspired flavour.
Final Destination (2000) Shirley Walker
Shirley Walker scored the first three Final Destination films; unfortunately not a single note of her wonderful horror suspense scores has been officially released on album. Thankfully the region 1 DVD of the first film features a full isolated score track for you to enjoy. Also worth tracking down are Brian Tyler’s take on Walker’s main theme in The Final Destination (2009) and Final Destination 5 (2011).
Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within (2001) Elliot Goldenthal
Final Fantasy was a very ambitious film at the time, creating what was then ‘state of the art’ animation. In typical Goldenthal style, his score brings an original and quite brilliant blend of lyrical beauty and dissonance. A true classic, not to be missed!
The Shipping News (2001) Christopher Young
Christopher Young stepped out of his comfort zone for The Shipping News and composed a truly engaging score featuring emotionally driven celtic music. It’s a lively and warm score and is a great departure from his typical horror sound. The opening ‘Main Title’ track is a real highlight.
The Missing (2003) James Horner
Something about this 19th Century New Mexico drama must have really inspired James Horner, because here he brings back his true creative spark of the early 1990s. The score is both energetic and melodic and will send you on an emotional rollercoaster.
Steamboy (2004) Steve Jablonsky
If there’s one score that proves what creative talent Steve Jablonsky has it’s his score for the Japanese animated film Steamboy. Forget his clichéd power anthems for the Transformers franchise; Jablonsky here delivers a complex and exciting melodic orchestral score that comes highly recommended.
Pan's Labyrinth (2006) Javier Navarrete
Directed by Guillermo Del Toro, Pan’s Labyrinth is an excellent fantasy/horror set in Northern Spain in the 1940s. On scoring duties was the relative newcomer Javier Navarrete, who produced a wonderfully magical experience. For the main theme, Navarrete composed a beautiful lullaby featuring soprano, violin and piano. This is then emotionally manipulated and percussion is added as the film turns darker and darker. One of the best scores of the decade!
The Last Legion (2007) Patrick Doyle
Inspired by the last days of the Roman Empire, Patrick Doyle treats us to a symphonic fantasy action score, filled with heroism and choral grandeur. The film, featuring Colin Firth and Ben Kingsley, went largely unnoticed; the sweeping drama of this score might entice people to seek it out.
In Bruges (2008) Carter Burwell
The black comedy, In Bruges, allows Carter Burwell to showcase how to produce great dramatic intensity. He cleverly mixes melodic piano with percussive rhythms, whilst adding a wailing electric guitar for the action scenes. It won’t be to everyone’s tastes but it’s definitely effective in context of the film.
Knowing (2009) Marco Beltrami
With nods to greats like Jerry Goldsmith and Bernard Herrmann, Marco Beltrami has produced a masterpiece of film composing for this average sci-fi thriller. Starting off with a dark and menacing orchestra, Beltrami expertly develops his themes into a truly dramatic and majestic score. Just listen to the track ‘Caleb Leaves’, an album highlight.
Thank you for reading this article, I hope it has inspired you to find something new. We’d also love to hear your thoughts – what ‘hidden gems’ from the 2000s have you discovered?