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Updated by Guy Gordon on Sep 21, 2017
Headline for Favorite 2015 Film Scores
Guy Gordon Guy Gordon
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Favorite 2015 Film Scores

Here are my favorite film scores from 2015. Having a list of 13 items may seem a bit random, but these are the ones that stood out for me during the year.

The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (Daniel Pemberton)

Not only was this one of my favorite movies of the year, but it contained my favorite music score for the year as well. While it may not feature material from maestro Jerry Goldsmith's thematic work for the original TV series, it is a wonderfully retro score that is fantastically playful with very creative instrumentation. I was a huge fan of Daniel Pemberton's music for the criminally short-lived Dirk Gently BBC series, and as soon as he was announced as the composer for this movie I knew his playful style skills from Dirk Gently made him an ideal choice for the project.

Jupiter Ascending (Michael Giacchino)

Yeah, I actually liked the movie. But more importantly, I absolutely loved Michael Giacchino's score. It is a lush, adventurous, bold, orchestral masterpiece. Giacchino had done the also-fantastic score to the Wachowski's previous (underrated) movie, Speed Racer.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (John Williams)

What can one say about a John Williams music score for a Star Wars film? By default they are expected to be great, because they always are. This is no exception. While it may not be the absolute classics that ones like his original trilogy scores are, it's still darn good. I'm quite fond of his thematic work for the Rey character.

Mad Max: Fury Road (Tom Holkenborg)

My favorite movie of the year gets a wild and stylistic music score from Tom Holkenborg. This one mostly breaks away stylistically from the sharp and brassy work on the first two films by Brian May (not the Brian May from Queen, btw) and the lavish work by Maurice Jarre on the third film. Holkenborg's slick and bombastic work fits the action masterpiece of a film like a glove. The "Brothers In Arms" cue is a highlight.

Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation (Joe Kraemer)

Joe Kraemer does an admirable job following in the footsteps of Michael Giacchino's excellent scores from the third and fourth films of the franchise. Director Christopher McQuarrie used Kraemer for his previous two directing gigs, The Way Of The Gun (an underappreciated film) and Jack Reacher. Kraemer's score is exciting, subtle and not only works in Lalo Schifrin's fantastic main TV series theme well, but also Schifrin's also-fantastic "The Plot" theme.

Inside Out (Michael Giacchino)

Having worked on a number of previous PIXAR projects such as The Incredibles, Ratatouille, Up and Cars 2, it's no surprise that he was chosen for this film. His score meets the challenge of providing all the emotional layers that the film demands, and he does it with apparent ease.

The Walk (Alan Silvestri)

Since this movie is directed by Robert Zemeckis, it's a given that the music is by Alan Silvestri. The two are one of the most prolific director/composer teams in modern film. Silvestri comes through with another great score, alternating between charming character work, thrilling suspense and playfully retro jazz funk (of sorts).

The Hateful Eight (Ennio Morricone)

This excellent score from Ennio Morricone is not just his first major American film in quite a few years, but is also the one that won the best score Oscar for the year. This may not be my favorite Tarantino film, but it is certainly helped out by Morricone's fine work. It's also the first Tarantino film with a proper score, so that's another nice accomplishment for Morricone.

Chappie (Hans Zimmer)

Hans Zimmer is certainly one of the most prolific and high profile of modern film composers. I count myself among his many fans. 2015 was a year that had fewer high profile scores from Zimmer, probably due to little more than the release timing of the films he worked on. Chappie is a lackluster movie, but Zimmer and his co-composers turn in a score that is a playful mix of aggressive and action-oriented material with retro style and some genuinely touching thematic elements.

Jurassic World (Michael Giacchino)

You're probably beginning to notice a Michael Giacchino trend developing as this list goes on. Yeah, he had a year of fantastic scores - though that's true of quite a few years. He has a unique bit of history with the Jurassic Park franchise, though. Back in the mid-90s, Giacchino started his music scoring career in the video game industry, back when things like full orchestral scores were starting to become a thing in that realm. Well, he did the music for the original Jurassic Park video game. He comes full circle getting to work on this big-budget project kicking the franchise back to life, and he does it well.

The Peanuts Movie (Christophe Beck)

Christophe Beck does a fine job tying together Vince Guaraldi's traditional Peanuts thematic material and the couple songs used throughout the film to give things a warm, charming layer. Pretty much everything about this movie nails it very well, encapsulating about as much of the Peanuts history as one could hope for, introducing an all new generation to the franchise.

Shaun The Sheep Movie (Ilan Eshkeri)

As one might imagine, a movie that is essentially without dialog creates a tall order for the music composer. I've been a fan of the (many) Shaun The Sheep episode shorts over the years and was definitely looking forward to the movie. As expected, the movie was great, and Ilan Eshkeri's music helps make it so.

Tomorrowland (Michael Giacchino)

What's this? Another entry on the list from Michael Giacchino? Yep, he had a heck of a great year. It wasn't a big surprise that he was chosen to do the music for this film, given that he had score director Brad Bird's previous three films (The Incredibles, Ratatouille and Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol), and is on board for his next film (The Incredibles 2). The movie is definitely a mixed bag. It has many fantastic elements and many other elements that are, uh, less than fantastic. Giacchino's score is certainly one of the former, and is up to the task at conveying the proper sense of wonder and adventure.