The Top 10 Film Scores Of 2012

10. Wreck-It Ralph

Composed by Henry Jackman

One of the key functions of any film score is to create the proper sense of energy, and Henry Jackman’s work on Wreck-It Ralph is as good an example of that quality as one could ask for. Expertly blending 8- and 16-bit musical textures from past eras of video games in with traditional symphonic composition, Jackman’s score propels both the visceral and emotional sides of one of 2012’s most satisfying films with delightful vitality. I do not yet think Jackman is a great composer, but Wreck-It Ralph is a pleasantly surprising sign that he may some day become one; if nothing else, this score makes him a talent worth watching out for.

9. Zero Dark Thirty

Composed by Alexandre Desplat

Few composers working today operate with such little ego as Alexandre Desplat, who is always more than willing to make his work invisible, blending quietly gorgeous compositions into the very fabric of the film. In this way, Zero Dark Thirty is one of Desplat’s greatest works to date, so effective in establishing tone and pace that one is unlikely to actively recognize the score until it takes over during the end credits. But this is a great and powerful work of film composition nevertheless, soft and beautiful and perfectly in touch with the psyche of the film’s determined main character and grounded, journalistic presentation. Everybody who sees Zero Dark Thirty seems to agree it is an impossibly gripping, immersive experience, and so much of that has to do with Desplat’s sharp, stealthy, and unassuming work.

8. Lincoln

Composed by John Williams

John Williams is hardly known for subtlety, but he can operate with a soft and delicate touch as well as anyone else when need be. His work on Steven Spielberg’s spectacular period drama Lincoln is proof of that. Like the film, Williams’ score inspires emotional reaction in small ways, building its individual components with meticulous thought and care to complement the complexities of the story and characters. And though much of Williams’ most famous work involves transporting the listener to fantastical fictional realms, he has always been equally talented at evoking specific times and places in real-world history, a skill he puts to exceptional use here to take us back to Civil War America. Yet it may be the score’s unexpected playful side that sets this one apart; with spirited fiddle work and an infectious degree of energy in certain moments, the Lincoln score proves just as unpredictable and multifaceted as the historical figure from which it takes its name.

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About the author


Jonathan R. Lack

With ten years of experience writing about movies and television, including an ongoing weekly column in The Denver Post's YourHub section, Jonathan R. Lack is a passionate voice in the field of film criticism. Writing is his favorite hobby, closely followed by watching movies and TV (which makes this his ideal gig), and is working on his first film-focused book.