Top 10 Scores Turning 20 in 2021

Back to our musical score time machine! For this edition, we're looking back to 2001!  
What an overload of fantastic scores!  Here's a look back at the scores of the year with my list of the 10 Best Scores Turning 20!

Let's start the ranking!

10. Jurassic Park III (Don Davis)
Davis continues the Williams style but brings the orchestral complexity and orchestration he is known for. Of course, we still hear the original themes in key moments, but Davis has several new themes and builds on the darker and frightening moments with a flourish.

9. Atlantis: The Lost Empire (James Newton Howard)
Like Dinosaur the previous year, Disney had another non-musical animated film. Utilizing JNH again, he applied his epic adventure formula to the animated format. We get a bunch of fantasy, whimsy and fun adventurous spirit, and even some mystical choral elements. While the film ranks pretty low on most Disney lists, the score works well and is worth a listen.

8. Amélie (Yann Tiersen)
Tiersen was an interesting choice for the film. A non-film composer, he wrote several pieces of music in addition to utilizing tracks from his previous studio albums. The film and its music became breakout hits - a surprise success for the quirky French film. His "French sound" of accordion, vibes, toy piano and bells are what help make the joyful score standout.

7. A Beautiful Mind (James Horner)
Representing the mathematical mind, Horner's score uses several pianos, electronics and repetitive motifs.  Even using many aspects of previous scores, it effectively underscores the drama.  The standout is Charlotte Church's vocals, adding to the human aspect of the character. 

6. Monsters, Inc. (Randy Newman)
Newman doesn't stray from his signature Pixar sound, but no need to change what worked so well. We get a bit more lively big band moments, scary moments, chase scenes and the sentimental music for their relationship with Boo that oozes with that Pixar/Newman emotion.

5. Spirited Away (Joe Hisaishi)
Hisaishi's score matches the wonderful film so well. As we follow Chihiro's adventure, we hear the playful themes alternating with the darker moments, sentimental themes and plaintive romantic piano solos. It's an enchanting score that captures much of the joy and sadness of the film.

4. The Mummy Returns (Alan Silvestri)
Silvestri's score is one of the highlights of this over-the-top action adventure. He uses a massive orchestra, choir and Egyptian-ish features. Themes are bold and thrilling throughout and Silvestri works the best molding his themes into the nonstop action cues.

3. A.I. Artificial Intelligence (John Williams)
It feels like Williams branched out while using an eclectic mix of musical styles for this sci-fi tale. Sections contain distant modern, minimalist and dissonant sounds while others are intimately delicate. Much of the third act is based on his achingly beautiful and haunting melodies.

2. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (John Williams)
Much of Harry's magical world is due to the score. Williams established the musical sound of the film franchise with a variety of themes - and these reoccurring themes are now ingrained in pop culture. He elevated the film from a standard kid-flick with adventure, magic, mystery and beauty. Thankfully he continued his mastery in the next two film entries.

1. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (Howard Shore)
Shore brings everything to the first section of Peter Jackson's huge adaptation. His instrumentation and thematic work can be looked at and studied for days. The film introduces so much music that becomes the identity of the trilogy, including the bucolic Shire music, the percussion and choir chants of Sauron's dark forces and sweeping heroics of the Fellowship.

Honorable Mentions:
Enemy at the Gates (James Horner), Evolution (John Powell), From Hell (Trevor Jones), Planet of the Apes (Danny Elfman), The Shipping News (Christopher Young), Shrek (Harry Gregson Williams & John Powell)

Any personal favorites of yours from 2001 that I didn't include?

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  1. From my point of view, "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring" was Howard Shore's biggest success. At the same time when Howard Shore is David Cronenberg's collaborator. From my point of view, Howard Shore composed "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy, for example: "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring", "The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers" and "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King". He's a living legend. Howard Shore is a living legend.