Top 10 Scores Turning 20 in 2019

Back to our musical score time machine! For this edition, we're looking at 1999! Here's a look back at the scores of 1999 with my list of the 10 Best Scores Turning 20!

Let's start the ranking!

10. The Cider House Rules (Rachel Portman)

Portman's lush orchestral sound with featured piano is a real treat. The main title's sweeping melody gets much play in the score while strings and woodwinds carry much of the gentle score. Still Portman's best known score (and featured in years of Michigan advertisements).

9. Toy Story 2 (Randy Newman)
Newman returns to the original themes and continues almost everything stylisticly from the first film's score. Full of the animated "mickey-mousing" scoring style, Newman adds more material for Buzz Lightyear and introduces themes for Woody's new cowboy pals. Even now, Jessie's song can wring a few tears out of me.

8. The Mummy (Jerry Goldsmith)
Right away from the opening Universal logo, Goldsmith goes all out in introducing us to the ancient Egyptian setting. The music is full of adventure, suspense and occasional horror. The full orchestra and choir are worked nonstop in large action cues. Not Goldsmith's finest, but can be enjoyed even more in the expanded 2018 soundtrack release. 

7. The Red Violin (John Corigliano)

Corigliano branched his modern classical music and film music with this fantastic score. After introducing the haunting main theme, it's arranged to fit the film's journey in time and place. Much of the score is carried by Joshua Bell's stunning violin solos, adding much life to this score, which would go on to win the best score Oscar. 

6. The Sixth Sense (James Newton Howard)
A subtle horror film score is quite rare, but Howard pulls it off with his first Shyamalan collaboration. Adding to the film's eerie story, Howard provides much of the emotion and tension. The main theme is present, but never intrusive. The finale of the film and album are the clear highlights, including the spoiler-rific final track. 

5. Galaxy Quest (David Newman)

An overly fun score to a great, fun movie. Newman crafted a full fledged adventure score, while staying true to the sci-fi parody. As the story matches several TV situations, it's Newman's perfectly on the nose TV main theme that gets used as the film's main theme (which itself goes through several iterations and variations). The orchestra and choir add heaps of humor and drama into the film, which was thankfully expanded in 2012. 

4. Angela's Ashes (John Williams)

It's easy to forget some of the more somber and quiet Williams scores. The main theme is nicely placed at the beginning of the album, and carried through much of the score. But it is the beautiful piano, oboe and harp solos add much warmth to the dour story. 

3. The Matrix (Don Davis)

Don Davis took an extreme approach to this sci-fi action film. Davis combined together a large orchestral sound with an extended brass section, electronics, atonal dissonance and postmodern orchestral techniques. Working nicely with the film and the plentiful songs, the score has some heroic moments mixed with the dark atmosphere. Thankfully he was able to continue this style on the rest of the sequels. 

2. American Beauty (Thomas Newman)

It's hard to imagine the film without this Newman score. Its unconventional use of instrumentation ranges from simplistic to the most complex and unique. The biggest standouts are the rhythmically minimalist opening material and the melodic piano melody. Full of other Newman-isms, he expands what a score can do to the scene's emotions and subtext. 

1. Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (John Williams)

Taking 1999 by storm, Williams returned to the Star Wars galaxy with a fantastic score. Naturally, he followed the leitmotif writing from the original trilogy.  His writing style is more modern, and Lucas gave Williams several action set pieces to show off. For new material, Duel of the Fates is still the clear standout by far. While the film's merits are always up for debate, the sonic return of Star Wars music is still thrilling. 

Honorable Mentions:
Anna and the King (George Fenton), Endurance (John Powell), The Green Mile (Thomas Newman), The Iron Giant (Michael Kamen), October Sky (Mark Isham), South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut (Marc Shaiman), The Talented Mr. Ripley (Gabriel Yared), Titus (Elliot Goldenthal), Wild Wild West (Elmer Bernstein), The 13th Warrior (Jerry Goldsmith)

Any personal favorites of yours from 1999 that I didn't include?

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