If you listen to my Suit Up! podcast with Loretto (@MarsellusDurden on Twitter), then you know very well that I am a lover of film scores. Similar to a director, a composer has the responsibility to connect with their audience. A composer is entrusted to inspire emotions and are a vital component to the storytelling and even success of a film.
Here is a list of some of my favorite, underrated film scores. You won’t find any work from the legends Hans Zimmer or John Williams here. Regardless of the success of their films, they rightfully obtain a fair level of acknowledgement for their efforts. Today, we are discussing a collection of film scores that have seemingly and unfairly gone forgotten.
Whether it was the box office success of the film or required some some time to build a following, these are my favorite, underrated film scores. Enjoy!
Theme, Snitch (2013)
Composer: Antonio Pinto
Brazilian composer Antonio Pinto brings his A-game with this piece. Full of screeching and riveting strings, the theme of Snitch was an eye opener when I saw it in theaters. Similar to the score, Snitch was a very underrated film in my opinion. It only made 13 million opening weekend and it is widely forgettable when discussing the top films by Dwayne Johnson. There is a rawness to this soundtrack that is captivating and dramatic. Antonio Pinto finds the right balance between relaxing and suspenseful.
Death is the Road to Awe, The Fountain (2006)
Composer: Clint Mansell
Such an underrated classic. Much like Darren Aronofsky’s film, composer Clint Mansell takes you on a journey filled with emotion and wonder. A journey about eternal love. “Death Is the Road to Awe” builds and builds and builds, just before the percussion and choir echo your ear drums. A combination of electric guitar and strings take center stage in this one. The film was split in half by the critics. It earned 3.7 million during its opening weekend (domestic) and may have been too ambitious for its own good. Regardless, Clint Mansell’s score will never be forgotten.
Tessa, Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014)
Composer: Steve Jablonsky
Much to the aid of Steve Jablonsky (and Dinobots of course), Age of Extinction brought the fun back to the Transformers franchise. This is some of Steve Jablonsky’s best work to date. Kudos to Bay and Jablonsky at ripping apart the previous themes and recreating a new film score for the franchise here. Whether you enjoyed the film or not, the film score was a triumphant success. “Tessa” is as emotional and inspirational as it gets.
Into Eternity, Thor: The Dark World (2013)
Composer: Brian Tyler
When discussing the top films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Thor: The Dark World is often found on the bottom of the MCU totem pole. Regardless, this is a piece that is widely forgotten and one of my favorites of any MCU film score. Relaxing, tragic, moving and full of emotion, composer Brian Tyler hits all the right notes with “Into Eternity.” It’s a piece filled with all the wonder and fantasy-filled drama you would expect from Asgard.
The Battle Room, Ender’s Game (2013)
Composer: Steve Jablonsky
The film quite simply did not meet its lofty expectations when it was released in 2013. Ender’s Game had an opening weekend box office of 27 million along with a ton of criticism. To be fair, I’m not the biggest fan of this soundtrack on the whole. It’s honestly not great. However, “The Battle Room” was far and away the best we got from the quickly cancelled, franchise. It’s a dance of strings and harmony.
Memories, Black Beauty (1994)
Composer: Danny Elfman
Despite being one of Danny Elfman’s best works, Black Beauty is a film that is widely forgotten. Here we have a youthful Danny Elfman at the start of his career and at his best. Elfman’s previous three films included The Nightmare Before Christmas, Edward Scissorhands and Batman Returns. The Black Beauty soundtrack is both warm and up-lifting. I strongly recommend a full listen of this amazing soundtrack. You won’t regret it.
He Lives in You, The Lion King (2019)
Composer: Lebo M.
One of Disney’s most underrated piece of film score got the full treatment in 2019’s The Lion King. Yes I understand that this was originally attached to The Lion King 2, but it was criminal to not find a spot for this amazing piece of music to not be included in the remake. Absolutely criminal. Click here to read my full review of The Lion King (2019) soundtrack where I rated this track 10/10. Stunning.
Kingdom Dance, Tangled (2012)
Composer: Alan Menkin
Similar to “He Lives in You,” this is another Disney score that is wildly underrated. This soundtrack as a whole is incredible and features some really incredible songs. However, “Kingdom Dance” deserves a little more love. It’s sparkles and is full of fun. I dare you to listen to this piece and stand still. The Celtic feel is magical.
Sunshine (Adagio in D Minor), Sunshine (2007)
Composer: John Murphy & Underworld
This score is as thought provoking and moving as it gets. Not only is Sunshine one of the most underrated movies of all time, so is the soundtrack. The film and soundtrack never received the credit it deserved. This is a film score that will bring you down to your knees in emotion. It’s ambitious. Inspiring. Full of wonder and hope. If you haven’t already, please be sure to give it a full listen.
3:10 to Yuma Suite, 3:10 to Yuma (2007)
Composer: Marco Beltrami
Lastly, I wanted to be sure to add this score to my list. Yes, this score received an Oscar nomination but it went up against some true heavy weights in 2008. Dario Marianelli’s Atonement got the W and rightfully so. Atonement is amazing soundtrack. The other competition was Michael Giacchino’s Ratatouille which is an absolute beast of a soundtrack and one of Giacchino’s best. Marco Beltrami’s work here cannot be forgotten and does such an excellent job setting the stage for a great, great flick.