While many are busy putting together their lists of the best films and TV shows of the decade, it feels prudent to get granular and really single out some of the astonishing filmmaking craft that’s been showcased the past 10 years. A film score has the power to either ruin or make a movie—just the right piece of music playing in just the right spot is what iconic film moments are made of. And sometimes the score itself is so radical, it elevates the entire atmosphere of the movie to another level.
The 2010s saw digital musicmaking take leaps both for better and worse. The real craftspeople used this new technology to their advantage, combining it with their understanding of music to craft unique and striking soundscapes. Others simply leaned on samples and electronic cues to create an indistinguishable sea of sound.
But traditional film scores still remain, and everyone from veterans of the trade to exciting newer talents made use of full orchestras to tug at our heartstrings or make our palms sweaty. That this decade gave us both Junkie XL and Nicholas Britell is a testament to the breadth of diversity in film music that was on display.
So as we prepare to enter a brand new decade, let’s look back one last time and celebrate the very best film scores of the 2010s. As with any list of this kind, it is certainly subjective, and there are innumerable fantastic film scores of the decade that are not on this list. But looking back at this precise moment in time, these feel like the cream of the crop.
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