Let's start the ranking!
10. Air Force One (Jerry Goldsmith)
Written as a replacement for Randy Newman's score (in two weeks!) this bombastic score isn't the best Goldsmith can offer, but it's full of Americana, a shamelessly patriotic sounding main theme and extended action material.
9. Contact (Alan Silvestri)
Silvestri's score is hopeful, and sentimental. Parts of the score sound close to the introspective style of Forrest Gump, with the occasional action cue. Music really goes for the emotion than the science elements in most scenes and especially the climax. Silvestri would touch some of the same aspects to on the series Cosmos.
8. Men in Black (Danny Elfman)
Fitting in the niche of quirky comedy and sci-fi lands Elfman's score. Most of the score has a spy groove that becomes the identity of the MIB and its sequels. It has plenty of past and future Elfman elements with a lovely emotional guitar theme that often gets forgotten.
7. Seven Years in Tibet (John Williams)
The dramatic and personal tale is told with an almost reflective mood. There are moments of sweeping orchestral writing, and plenty more subtle and introspective moments with hints of the Tibetan locale. The score shines with haunting cello solos melodies performed by Yo-Yo Ma.
6. Anastasia (David Newman)
I do love song scores - especially in an animated film. In this case, Newman rarely interpolates the song melodies into the score and lets it become something on its own. The one exception would be the music box theme which ties both songs and score together. The Russian musical influences work well. I'd love to hear an expanded score album, with the original album featuring far more songs.
5. Tomorrow Never Dies (David Arnold)
The Bond franchise got a big jumpstart musically with Arnold's first score. For those worried about the future of these scores, Arnold was able to keep the mold of the Barry-era scores, while adding in new motifs and themes while piling on more blaring brass, jazz and techno.
4. Starship Troopers (Basil Poledouris)
Straddling the aggressive action and the military satire, Poledouris gave the large orchestra a strong workout of bombastic themes, brilliant action cues, creative orchestral techniques and the humorous propaganda bits.
3. L.A. Confidential (Jerry Goldsmith)
Source songs are featured heavily in the film with Goldsmith's score there to bind the rest of the film together. This dark noir features some fantastic instrumental writing and suspense cues. The trumpet variations of the main title are a particular standout.
2. The Lost World: Jurassic Park (John Williams)
Returning to the dinosaur blockbuster gave Williams a chance to take the score in a different direction. Matching the darker tone, the score went much darker with hardly any references to the majestic themes of the original. Instead a new theme conveyed a lot of the island travel and how scary the dinos can be with brutual action rhythms overlayed with lots of jungle-themed percussion. The score fares better in the film or in the expanded soundtrack.
1. Titanic (1997)
1997 was dominated by Titanic. Easily one of the most influential aspects is the score. Horner's grand and romantic score is dominated by Celtic influences, stunning vocal solos, lush orchestral and synth techniques. Even with all its flaws, this score's staying power 20 years later is astonishing. The radio play of the song, award winds and album sales is still rare for a film score.
Amistad (John Williams), Batman & Robin (Elliot Goldenthal), Con Air (Mark Mancina/Trevor Rabin), Face Off (John Powell), Good Will Hunting (Danny Elfman) My Best Friends Wedding (James Newton Howard).
Any favorites of yours from 1997 that I didn't include? Comment below!