Best Original Score – 1972

Official Nominations: Limelight. Images. Napoleon And Samantha. The Poseidon Adventure. Sleuth. Cabaret. Lady Sings the Blues. Man of La Mancha.

Limelight won the Dramatic category this year – a bit of a nonsense given that the film was made and released twenty years earlier, so this is clearly a pat on the back win for Charlie Chaplin. It’s quite a lovely score, dreary and downbeat in places, exuberant and uplifting in others – deserving of a win and nomination in its own right, but not just because LA had to wait 20 years before seeing the film – you’re not the boss of the world LA. Images is an almost forgotten Robert Altman psychological horror movie with a score by John Williams – one which has a lot in common with Carpenter’s score for Halloween – lots of haunting piano melodies, creeping strings, and jump-scare percussion, a fantastic soundtrack which so few remember. Similarly, Napoleon And Samantha is a weird film which no-one remembers – Michael Douglas, Jodie Foster, and Johnny Whitaker have scary adventures with a pet lion, involving cougars and crazy people. It’s as weird and entertaining as it sounds, but the soundtrack is fairly by the numbers. John Williams strikes again with The Poseidon Adventure – a much larger scope soundtrack than his other nominee but not as powerful, even if it does have plenty of interesting tracks and moments, even a bit of funk. John Addison’s score for Sleuth is a lot of fun, playful and mysterious.

And so on to the adaptation round. Cabaret was the winner this time round – at least it strived to create new music for the movie which was not there on the screen. Unfortunately the era, style, and songs are not my thing and I can’t listen for long. Musicals man, even when they’re good, they’re crap. Lady Sings The Blues is a little better – better songs anyway, but still not something I would ever pick, while Man Of La Mancha is very old school – fine, but nothing out of the ordinary.

My Winner: Images


My Nominations: Images. Aguirre, The Wrath Of God. Deliverance. The Final Comedown. The Getaway. The Godfather. The Last House On The Left. Last Tango In Paris. Silent Running. Super Fly. Way Of The Dragon.

An almost entirely different, and superior, list for me with only Images making it over. This was actually a good year for Scores, even on the official list, but as there are so many others which I felt were better or more notable, most of the officials get cut. Aguirre has a hymnal, soothing score, akin to stumbling upon the gates of Heaven, all wall of sound organs and voices, quite haunting and beautiful, reminiscent of Pink Floyd I’ve always found – even the later guitar tracks are very Floyd. Deliverance is of course famous for the dueling banjos scene and music – taken from a much earlier recording, but it also has some sparse blue grass sections, renditions of other older pieces, and some rare synth moments – it mostly sounds like a rollicking good time, betraying what happens on screen. The Final Comedown is another entry in the funk blues rock scores of the decades, this one less well known but just as groovy and accomplished as the bigger hits. The Getaway sees funk maestro Quincy Jones in a slower and more soulful mood while Silent Running has plenty of pastoral and percussive moments aside from the obvious Joan Baez tunes.

The Godfather has one of the most famous scores of all time, yet was controversially not nominated after it appeared that some of the pieces had popped up in earlier Rota scores. We know they make up the rules as they go along, and this was one particular piece of bullshit which I am rectifying – there’s no way this doesn’t get nominated. With more European flavor is Last Tango In Paris by Gato Barbieri, as sumptuous and regal and tragic as you could wish for. On the other side of the scale is The Last House On The Left which, when heard on its own sounds like some late evening hippy dream, with David Hess and Stephen Chapin using folk tones to lull us into disbelief, and jaunty, circus, chase music to counter the vicious and disturbing antics on screen. Superfly is notable for having a soundtrack that made more money than the film itself, Curtis Mayfield crafting a classic of the genre – not many instrumentals though, so does that break the (my) rules? Finally, one of my all time personal favourite soundtracks, but one which is superb all round by the great Joseph Koo.

My Winner: The Godfather

Let us know in the comments which film of 1972 had the best score!


Best Original Score – 1971

Official Nominations: Summer Of 42. Mary Queen Of Scots. Nicholas And Alexandra. Shaft. Straw Dogs. Fiddler on The Roof. Bedknobs And Broomsticks. The Boy Friend. Tchaikovsky. Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory.

This year we had two categories for score – Best Original Score (Dramatic) and Best Original Song Score or Adaptation. The had no clue what they were doing in other words. We’ll stick them all in a single category. Summer Of ’42 was winner of the Dramatic Category. Michel Legrand’s classy central theme is a fine mixture of strings and smooth jazz which evokes an easy nostalgia without too much sentiment. The rest of the soundtrack largely follows a similar smooth style and features variants on the main theme. John Barry’s surprisingly tender score for Mary, Queen Of Scots features Vanessa Redgrave’s vocal talents and a softer approach than you may expect given the subject matter while Richard Rodney Barrett’s Nicholas And Alexandra has similarly tender moments but feels more grand.

Shaft is clearly the odd one out in the category, with nothing else sounding remotely like it. Issac Hayes fills the score with modern funk sounds while retaining an old world jazz feel. The final entry in the Dramatic division is Jerry Fielding’s Straw Dogs – a score which begins softly, almost idyllic, but builds with notes of tension and becomes increasingly pounding and violent, obviously echoing the film. Fiddler On The Roof, and most of the other soundtracks on the adaptation front don’t really deserve to be here as they are so populated by spoken parts or actual songs, but fine. John Williams won the Oscar for Fiddler – the music isn’t that great and most of the songs are standard musical fluff. Bedknobs And Broomsticks is not a film I have ever enjoyed, too cloying and sentimental and the music does nothing for me aside from making me want to leave the room if it’s on, while The Boy Friend is an odd Ken Russell adaptation with songs from the 1920s, an era which again does little for me. Tchaikovsky is weird too as it features music from the composer as filtered by Dimitri Tiomkin. My pick, and is there really any other choice, is Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory by Leslie Bricusse, Anthony Newley, and Walter Scharf. The songs and the music inspire such wonder in successive generations as few soundtracks ever have before or since, and remain timeless.

My Winner: Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory


My Nominations: Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory. Shaft. 200 Motels. A Clockwork Orange. A Fistful Of Dynamite. The French Connection. Sweet Sweetback’s Baadassss Song. THX 1138.

Only two make it to my list. A Clockwork Orange I understand not being included by many people, given that the majority of the soundtrack is existing work – if Tchaikovsky can get nominated, then so can this. There are some original pieces here, but few films have used music so dramatically and emphatically as this one. The French Connection features a lot of echo, repeated notes, spontaneous jazz, and near out of tune moments – there’s something ‘off’ about it, an unsettling tone which heightens the surrounding mystery. Morricone does it again in A Fistful Of Dynamite – a soundtrack with many obvious nods to the past spaghetti westerns, but plenty of moving moments of its own, with great use of whistling, strings, and operatic voices again. Sweet Sweetback’s Baadassss Song sees an unknown Earth, Wind, And Fire merged funk and jazz to craft a soundtrack which was released before the movie in a neat advertising stunt, while 200 Motels saw Frank Zappa and co freaking out in style. Lalo Schifrin’s score for THX 1138 is suitably creepy and futuristic – lots of voices mingled together with ultra low rumbling bass and piercing strings to give an epic operatic feel. Any of these are worthy winners.

My Winner: THX 1138

Let us know your winner in the comments!

Best Score – 1970

Official Nominations: Love Story. Airport. Cromwell. Patton. I Girasoli. Let It Be. The Baby Maker. A Boy Named Charlie Brown. Darling Lili. Scrooge.

This year the category was again split in two – with Love Story winning in the ‘Not A Musical’ category, and Let It Be winning the Best Score or Adaptation category. It’s not surprising that Love Story won here – the main piano theme by is synonymous with tragedy and has been used in other media, usually for comedy purposes. It’s a great piece, it feels a little Western, tragic in nature, haunting, sweet, but also quite weird or alien. While none of the other pieces reach these heights of being recognizable many of them are nice and simple and memorable for anyone who has seen the film, running the gamut from pastoral love themes to barren sadness. Alfred Newman’s soundtrack is tense and pulsating – a lot of bass and a high tempo, interrupted by stabbing high strings, while also giving a sense of the rushing, bustle, and escapism suggested by airports. The soundtrack does have other notable moments – a lazy love theme staving off the tension of the flight and landing. Frank Cordell’s theme for Cromwell is surprisingly operatic and reminds me of the later The Omen and even the even later Conan The Barbarian while Jerry Goldmsith works his magic once again on Patton. His knack for brief cues and refrains is superb, and everyone will recognise those fading, recurring triple notes which open the movie while the stirring strings and flutes lurk in. The whole soundtrack is rousing, passionate, patriotic, but doesn’t celebrate in war – remembering the tragedy and sacrifice. Our last nomination in this side of the category comes from Italy – I Girasoli or The Sunflower sees Henry Mancini lending some heartfelt sadness to the tragic drama – the main theme shares a lot with that of Love Story. 

Let It Be speaks for itself, a collection of songs which appear on the album of the same name, albeit in different forms, along with covers and songs from other albums. A Boy Named Charlie Brown shouldn’t really be here given that it came out in 1969 while The Baby Maker is a bizarre choice on the surface – Fred Karlin’s soundtrack peppered with hippy folk sensibility, rock freakouts, and light flute notes. The final nominations are less surprising – with both Darling Lili and Scrooge being musicals. Musicals being what they are, I tend to think of the actual songs before the soundtrack so neither stand out for me from an incidental point of view. Let It Be easily wins in the second category for me, but the first is much more difficult as each is a worthy choice.

My Winner(s): Patton and Let It Be


My Nominations: Patton. Let It Be. Love Story. Cromwell. The Aristocats. The Bird With The Crystal Plummage. Gimme Shelter. Woodstock. Kelly’s Heroes. MASH. Zabriskie Point.

I bring only three over to the dark side – if Let It Be gets nominated, then so surely must Gimme Shelter and Woodstock – both featuring great music and performances from some of the most important bands of all time. I have to throw The Aristocats in there because, even though I’m not a huge fan of the film or of Jazz, it is a film about music and has a certain vibe and energy to it. A much easier nomination would be MASH – aside from the obvious Suicide Is Painless theme, there are other mini compositions which bring humour to the military standards. Another obvious one for me is Zabriskie Point – another soundtrack featuring popular artists of the time, but one which blends songs with instrumental pieces. Lalo Schifrin brings the funk to Kelly’s Heros – a carefree swagger characterized by Eastwood and Co in the movie while Ennio Morricone got it together with Dario Argento long before Goblin did, and in doing so created something creepy and beautiful (if a little similar to Rosemary’s Baby in places).

My Winner: Patton.

Let us know in the comments which Score of 1970 you would pick as winner!

Best Music (Scoring) – 1969

Official Nominations: Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid. Anne of The Thousand Days. The Reivers. The Secret of Santa Vittoria. The Wild Bunch. Hello Dolly. Goodbye Mr Chips. Paint Your Wagon. They Shoot Horses Don’t They. Sweet Charity.

More craziness this year as the Scoring category was divided into – Best Original Score (Not A Musical) and Best Original Or Adaptation Score (Including Musical). I’ve bunched them all together though, both in the Official List and in my own. Lets get the two Official Winners out of the way first. BCATSK by one Burt Bacharach is of course most famous for it’s central song, but the rest of the soundtrack has a fun and light folk and jazz vibe, unusual for what would be classed as a Western – it is in stark contrast to Morricone’s stuff for example. There’s a winsome, nostalgic, bittersweet, and playful tone throughout. I’m not convinced Hello Dolly should be on here given that the soundtrack is simply a list of songs from the movie – it’s whether you consider a movie soundtrack to be purely or mostly instrumental, or whether is matters or not. Regardless, the music and songs don’t do anything for me, aside from some amusing lyrics and the vocal and comic talent involved it’s just not very good.

Georges Delarue presents a regal soundtrack for Anne Of The Thousand Days, crafting a very good period sound with subtle contemporary flavour – moving and grand. John Williams was already an established Conductor by the time of The Reivers, but not yet considered in the same league as his contemporaries – this nomination and score went a long way to changing that – a rich and epic score peppered with the lighter melodic moments which would be one of his most enduring trademarks. Ernest Gold’s score for The Secret Of Santa Vittoria is another strong one, with authentic European charm, but it maybe gets lost in the mix with all of the other big hitters this year.

The Wild Bunch I’ve always found to have a strange soundtrack for a Western. Jerry Fielding’s score shares more with a drama or 80s adventure movie than with what you would expect from a Western – perhaps it is this which again adds to the feeling that the movie was closing the book on the genre. Speaking of unusual ideas for a Western, Paint Your Wagon sees Clint, Marvin, and co singing unnecessarily. The music by Lernre, Loewe, and Previn is okay, at least one of the songs is good, but it’s all terribly old fashioned and far too happy and cheesy for its own good.

Goodbye, Mr Chips has a score by John Williams again, and songs by Leslie Bricusse – not my thing as the songs are so plain, while Sweet Charity has work from Cy Coleman and Dorothy Fields – better songs then, but the score is still nothing out of the ordinary – massive jazz thumps and sways, but again not my thing. Finally, They Shoot Horses, Don’t They has strange incidental music punctuated by show tunes or earlier times – the nice score coming from Johnny Green.

My Winner: The Reivers


My Nominations: The Reivers. The Secret Of Santa Vittoria. Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid. Easy Rider

If those other soundtracks are getting official nominations, then there’s no way Easy Rider is missing out. The same goes for The Italian Job. Quincy Jones somehow steps in to a uniquely English film to give some Motown class to the camp proceedings, while Easy Rider speaks for itself. As that soundtrack is entirely songs though, I can’t in good conscience give it the win in this category.

My Winner: The Italian Job


Let us know in the comments who your pick for the Best Score of 1969 is – and stay tuned throughout February as I unleash a tonne of music posts that have been sitting in my drafts for months!

Best Music (Scoring) – 1968

Official Nominations: The Lion In Winter. Planet Of The Apes. The Thomas Crown Affair. The Shoes Of The Fisherman. The Fox. Oliver! Star! Finian’s Rainbow. The Young Girls Of Rochefort. Funny Girl.

The Scoring award was split this year between original and adaptation scores, but I’ll bundle them into one. John Barry picked up an official win for The Lion In Winter, a score with many heavy and mysterious tones thanks to dramatic horns and ominous low blasts, made all the more eerie thanks to the choir. Goldsmith’s soundtrack to The Planet Of The Apes is a fitting mixture of the experimental and strange with creeping piano and woodwind instruments. The main theme lacks a true hook, giving that air of mystery, threat, and confusion that the film relies on. Legrand’s work for The Thomas Crown Affair is filled with jazz and cool, but as such lacks the melodies which tend to grab me and mostly reminds me of musical wafted through shopping malls. Alex North does find some useful melodies in the stirring score for The Shoes Of The Fisherman but nothing outstanding while Schifrin’s work for The Fox has some truly beautiful moments throughout the main arrangements. Johnny Green picked up another win for Oscar – you already know how it sounds, while you can imagine exactly how Lennie Hayton’s Star! sounds. Similarly, Heindorf and Burton’s Finian’s Rainbow is mostly fluff while Legrand does the French equivalent with The Young Girls Of Rochefort. Oh look! Funny Girl is your standard musical fare.

My Winner: The Lion In Winter.


My Nominations: The Lion In Winter. The Planet Of The Apes. The Fox. 2001: A Space Odyssey. Barbarella. Bullitt. Hang Em High. The Odd Couple. Once Upon A Time In The West. Rosemary’s Baby. Where Eagles Dare.

I add a number of obvious choices in this category – films either with classic themes, haunting scores, or a combination of both. Ennio Morricone does it again, and maybe pulls off his finest score for Once Upon A Time In The West while Stanley Kubrick (yes yes I’m cheating) borrows a number of famous classical works and applies them to the vastness of space and time meaning no viewer of 2001 can watch a clip of the movie without thinking of the music and no listener can hear the music without thinking of the movie. Maurice Jarre gets yet another nomination merging sexy cool with mystery while Lalo Schifrin continues his trend for yearly nominations with an equally cool, mysterious, and jazzy score for Bullitt. Neal Hefti earns a nomination for crafting an ever popular theme in The Odd Couple while Krysztof Komeda makes a generation creeped out by lullabies forever thanks to his work on Rosemary’s Baby. Ron Goodwin gets a nomination for his suitably militaristic and heroic music on Where Eagles Dare, rousing and ominous at once and lastly, Dominic Frontiere gets a vote for his great pieces in Hang Em High – they may borrow heavily from Morricone, but in the best possible way.

My Winner: Once Upon A Time In The West.


Which movie of 1968 do you think has the Best Scoring? Let us know in the comments!

Best Music (Scoring): 1967

The category this year was again divided into two – Best Original Score, and Best Original Song or Adaptation Score which makes less than zero sense. I’ll pick my winner from each of the Official categories, but for My Nominations I’ll be merging them.

Official Nominations (Original): Thoroughly Modern Millie. Cool Hand Luke. Doctor Dolittle. Far From The Madding Crowd. In Cold Blood. (Adapted): Camelot. Doctor Dolittle. Thoroughly Modern Millie. Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner. Valley of The Dolls.

Bernstein won for Thoroughly Modern Millie, an suitably light and jaunty soundtrack which is reminiscent of the theme for TV series Bewitched and immediately evokes light and fluffy ideas of single women shopping and giggling. It’s not terrible, it’s just not great. Ironically, this was to be his only Oscar win. Schifrin’s soundtrack for Cool Hand Luke is clearly stronger, being poignant and sad, perfectly suited to the actions on screen. Merging lonely guitars with traditional big string surges, harmonica, and speedy news report-esque fills, it’s an oft forgotten work which transcends the time in which it was written. Bricusse’s soundtrack for Doctor Dolittle sounds like a cross between a cartoon from the 30s-50s and an old weepy romance. There are beautiful moments which float along, but the whole package lacks than big hook or two to tie it all. Similarly, Bennett’s work on Far From The Madding Crowd is quite lovely, acting as a strong emotional piece to the film itself, but again (narrowly) loses out when searching for the ever elusive killer theme. Jones’s soundtrack for In Cold Blood instantly grabs you and drags you along on a heart-pumping ride. Merging light Jazz moments with rushing, galloping drums, it is an archetypal theme for a thriller.

My Winner: Cool Hand Luke


My Nominations: Cool Hand Luke. Far From The Madding Crowd. In Cold Blood. You Only Live Twice. The Graduate. The Jungle Book.

I add three films which really should have received official nominations.George Bruns’s score for The Jungle Book may be overshadowed by the songs written for the movie, but there is still enough in the incidental pieces to warrant a nomination. The same can be said for Dave Grusin’s score for The Graduate. Finally, John Barry’s score for You Only Live Twice is likely his finest work in the Bond Universe, merging oriental flavours with the more familiar Bond tones and themes to create something striking and memorable.

My Winner: You Only Live Twice


Let us know i n the comments what film of 1967 you feel has the best soundtrack!

Best Music (Scoring): 1966

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Official Nominations: Original: Born Free. The Bible. Hawaii. The Sand Pebbles. Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf. Treatment: A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum. The Gospel According To St. Matthew. Return Of The Seven. The Singing Nun. Stop The World I Want To Get Off.

Two obvious winners for me this year with both my picks having memorable lead themes and plenty of finely tuned incidental pieces. Return Of The Seven does of course borrow heavily from The Magnificent Seven, but it’s still so much stronger than anything else on the list that it gets the win.

My Winner: Born Free. Return Of The Seven.


My Nominations: Born Free. Return Of The Seven. The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly. Blow-Up. The Sand Pebbles. Dracula: Prince Of Darkness.  Fahrenheit 451.

I borrow three from the official nominations, and add the steamy and restrained soundtrack by James Bernard which gives a gravitas and emotional content to your typical Hammer fare. Also added is Herbie Hancock’s immortal soundtrack to Blow-Up with an infusion of guitar psychedelia and jazz freak outs, and Bernard Hermann’s mysterious and ominous ode to the future for Farenheit 451. My win of course has to be The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly. It’s unfortunately rare that movie soundtracks enter the public consciousness and have a lasting cultural significance, but that is exactly what Ennio Morricone gives us (and not for the first or last time). The soundtrack is easily one of the finest ever written, with the title track, with The Ecstasy Of Gold, The Story Of A Soldier, all being classic themes.

My Winner: The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly


What is your choice for the Best Score of 1966? Let us know in the comments (of course it’s going to be Morricone though…)