Favorite Active Film Composers?

Mark Pope

Member
I have heard the John Williams vs Hans Zimmer debate a million times played out over the interweb by casual fans. I'm curios to find that of actual musicians, composers and film makers, which composers are your favorite? Since I mentioned Zimmer, I'm going to jump to his immediate defense here and say that I think while he may not be the symphonic mastermind that John Williams or Howard Shore are, he is a fantastic FILM composer, and I do think his music usually does an incredible job in bringing out the emotional backbone of a movie.

That having been said, my favorite is probably Howard Shore. I also love Alexandre Desplat, John Powell and the late James Horner (I know he's not an active composer, but given how recent his tragic death I think it fare to include him).

What do you think?!
 

Scoopicman

Pro Member
indiePRO
I love John Williams, but not his recent work, which leaves a bland taste in my mouth, especially the STAR WARS prequels. Amazing, since I loved the scores to the original trilogy. Lately, it has been Henry Jackman (KICK-ASS, KINGSMAN, X-MEN: FIRST CLASS). I'm still waiting for John Murphy to do something as significant as SUNSHINE and 28 WEEKS LATER, which I loved.

James Horner! I can't believe he died, last June, and nobody on the forum mentioned it. I just found out, as I rented SOUTH PAW, last night. The producers could not afford him, so he did the score for free! One of his last.
 
Last edited:

ryanrapsys

Member
Cliff Martinez, Clint Mansell, Trent Reznor, Carter Burwell, Nick Cave/Warren Ellis, Thomas Newman, Jóhann Jóhannsson, Mychael Danna, Harry Gregson-Williams...those are some of my current favorites.

TV has some amazing composers working today as well: Dave Porter (Breaking Bad, The Blacklist), Trevor Yuile (Orphan Black), Jeff Beal (House of Cards), John Hardy (Hinterland)
 
I really like Michael Giacchino. Had the pleasure of seeing the 'Incredits' performed live in Manchester by the Halle. Blew me a away.
 

Stich

Member
Nick Cave's soundtrack for "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford" was really quite excellent.
 
I stand by James Newton Howard. He's the most talented underrated composer. He's done amazing work on some of the biggest movies you've seen yet nobody ever brings his name up!
 
Wait, there's a John Williams vs Hans Zimmer debate?! :lol::lol::lol::lol::lol:!!!!!!!!!!

Zimmer's scores all sound the same! The only time they're interesting is when he collaborates with other composers. He and Junkie XL killed with Supe.v.Bat, and then of course there's Gladiator.

But c'mon. Are you kidding me? John Williams is the Michael Jordan of film scores, I don't know how anyone would even try to debate that.

I'm definitely a fan of James Horner and James Newton Howard. Danny Elfman is fantastic.

I think Bear McCreary is a name to keep an eye on. His score for 10 Cloverfield Lane is amazing!
 

Scoopicman

Pro Member
indiePRO
Wait, there's a John Williams vs Hans Zimmer debate?! :lol::lol::lol::lol::lol:!!!!!!!!!!
I agree. No one touches vintage Williams (JAWS, STAR WARS, RAIDERS, and ET). Loved his work since GILLIGAN'S ISLAND and LOST IN SPACE. After RETURN OF THE JEDI, I felt his quality go way down, around the same time he starting devoting a lot of time to the Boston Pops. I think it was 9 months of the year, compared to 3 months that allowed for movie scoring. Some people may be comparing the latter part of his career to what Hans has been doing.

I've been buying various Zimmer scores, since PAPER HOUSE, DROP ZONE, MISSION IMPOSSIBLE 2. (It was decent, bu I liked Elfman's first MISSION IMPOSSIBLE score, much more.) He is so hit and miss. His sound usually produces big sounding mood over thematics.

I was really disappointed in INTERSTELLAR and that over-used organ type sound. On the other hand.... INCEPTION really connected with me. Brilliant work!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=imamcajBEJs


I loved that director, Nolan, cranked the score on that movie. He also cranked it with Interstellar, but that technique annoyed me on that one. I've also enjoyed the BATMAN BEGINS and DARK KNIGHT (Zimmer working along side James Newton Howard). Interesting technique of fleshing out a minimalistic 2 note theme and making huge layers and sequences out of it. I like MAN OF STEEL, also.


I stand by James Newton Howard. He's the most talented underrated composer. He's done amazing work on some of the biggest movies you've seen yet nobody ever brings his name up!
I was just rewatching THE SIXTH SENSE and was noticing how much the score elevated that slow paced, but excellent movie. Talk about giving something a voice.


Some other mentions: John Powell (THE BOURNE IDENTITY movies) and Henry Jackman (X-MEN: FIRST CLASS and KINGSMAN).


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WO8kC3-mj-k
 
Last edited:

Scoopicman

Pro Member
indiePRO
Oh, and someone to watch out for would be Dean Valentine. He scored trailers for PROMETHEUS ("BUUUUM....BUUUUMM!"), INTERSTELLAR, THE MARTIAN, FURY, and this:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uPFwKdVe3J8

Love it.
 
One of my current favorites is Michael Giacchino.

He started out scoring video games, moved to TV (Lost, Alias, Fringe, & Six Degrees among others). His film work includes:

Zootopia
Jurassic World
Inside Out
Tomorrowland
Jupiter Ascending
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Star Trek Into Darkness
John Carter
Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol
The Candidate
Up
Star Trek
Ratatouille
Sex, Lies and Videotape
Mission: Impossible III
Sky High
The Incredibles


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ZUHlrir4Og
 
Last edited:
Michael Giaccino, good stuff. I didn't know his name before today, but I like all of those scores (the ones I've seen/heard anyway). Ditto that for Dean Valentine. Scoopic, the music you linked of his almost sounds like a what would happen if Elfman and Zimmer collaborated.

As far as Williams is concerned, it is my opinion that he's still at the top of his game. I don't agree that there's been any drop-off in quality or innovation. His score is damn-near the only reason to watch any of the Star Wars prequels, and I think the music was just as good in Force Awakens. And frankly, I'm stunned that anyone would suggest his quality of worked dropped off after Jedi. I mean, Jurassic Park!!!

I'm also eager to see what comes of Junkie XL. I think his collaboration with Zimmer on Supe.v.Bat was fantastic, and I LOVED what he did for Fury Road.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xllG3fSUAOw
 
Alcove, press "quote" and you'll see how I linked the YT video you meant to link. :D

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ZUHlrir4Og
 

Scoopicman

Pro Member
indiePRO
Disclaimer: The following is just my personal opinion. Music is different for each person. Keep in mind, I like dark, muscular, thematic orchestra and throbbing synths (Tangerine Dream sounds, ROBOCOP and STARSHIP TROOPERS, etc.).

After seeing the movie, replayed, about a month ago, I Amazon ordered the MEET JOE BLACK CD (yes I live in the past) It has one or two themes that blow me away - up there with the best, but the CD as a whole is kind of boring for me.


And frankly, I'm stunned that anyone would suggest his quality of worked dropped off after Jedi. I mean, Jurassic Park!!!
I stand by what I said, though I reworded this paragraph to say that JURASSIC PARK is an exception. The main theme is fantastic. The rest of the score seemed good, but not enough to make me want to hear it in isolation...until this conversation. Perhaps, I'll give it a closer listen.

I believe that Williams peaked with EMPIRE (Vader's theme, the Asteroid Field, the wonderful heroes' themes, Bopa Fett, etc.) and E.T. When RETURN OF THE JEDI came out, it was the first time I was a little disappointed with a STAR WARS score. (A lot could have been the tone with the Ewoks involved. I can't stand them.) It was really good, but not up to his previous work. Also, the original release didn't have the best part - some of the Emperor scenes and the choir theme as Luke beats down Vader. I since got the full version and that made it much better.




As for the other scores since? You see what's in my picture. There is little outside of that J.W. collection that makes me want to listen further. WAR OF THE WORLDS and the new STAR WARS stuff sounded so empty to me. Sure, I liked the Dual of the Fates theme and the Anakin and Padme love theme. There was another, too. The rest didn't call to me, at all.

I'm a guy who bought 3 double albums of the original STAR WARS score, because I kept wearing them out on my record player. (Thank goodness for CDs.) Every song was great. The motifs of LOST IN SPACE were being channeled and elevated in a magnificent way. The first time I heard STAR WARS, it was already familiar to me.


So what happened? Was I just getting older? Nope. Scores like Steve Jablonsky's TRANSFORMERS and Danny Elfman's Music For A Darkened Theater compilations were blowing me away. The scores to OBLIVION and EDGE OF TOMORROW are fabulous. The former wakes me up, every morning.

Again, this is all my opinion. If I told you I went gaga over Bear McCreary's EUROPA REPORT soundtrack, you might think I'm crazy. :lol:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oXTX7XULtkg
 
Last edited:

Top