There are a number of essential elements that make an animated film come together and lift it from the mundane to the level of awesome. From story structure to character design these important elements dictate the quality of the final product. One such essential piece of an amazing animated film is the film’s soundtrack, particularly the film’s score. We’ve seen in the Greatest Themes countdown how powerful music can be. A film score is an instrumental music track that often lies quietly in the background but at other times can enhance your viewing of the action happening on the screen. A truly amazing film score knows when to be quiet and when to blast out an audience’s ear drums. There are hundreds of amazing film scores, from Gladiator to Tron Legacy and everything in between, but what are some of the best films scores written for animated films?
Here is a list of 5 of the best (in no particular order).
1. Princess Mononoke (Joe Hisaishi)
Joe Hisaishi and Hayao Miyazaki are a team of artists that complement each other beautifully.
Miyazai has made some of the most beautiful movies (animated or otherwise) ever created and more often than not, Hisaishi has written the score to accompany them.
Mononoke is a beautiful score but of their other partnerships, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind and Spirited Away are also amazing.
Standout Track: The Legend Of Ashitaka.
2. How To Train Your Dragon (John Powell)
This score has been getting heaps of play on my ipod since it’s release over a year ago.
Nominated for an Oscar (and probably deserved to win) the score is everything you could ask for to accompany this amazing film.
It’s hard to picture Hiccup and Astrid’s tumultuous first ride together on Toothless without this soaring score to accompany the journey’s highs and lows.
Standout Track: Forbidden Friendship.
3. The Little Mermaid (Alan Menken)
Looking back, The Little Mermaid is the quintessential “Modern” Disney movie. And as the film was a landmark for it’s time, so was the score.
Here too we include the songs written by Menken and Howard Ashman because they are integral to the score and, if you know a six year old girl, hard to forget.
Menken has gone on to write for many Disney films but this was his breakthrough for Disney and influences for all his subsequent scores can be traced back to this film.
Standout Tracks: Main Titles and Part Of Your World.
4. Ratatouille (Michael Giacchino)
Ah, where to begin?
I could have easily chosen The Incredibles or Up but finally settled on Ratatouille for it’s distinctive French flavor.
A Michael Giacchino animation film score is not your usual film score, he often seems to be more jazz inspired than straight orchestral but it always works, complementing the action of Pixar’s meaningful and slightly quirky stories.
Standout Tracks: Wall Rat and End Creditouilles.
5. The Illusionist (Sylvain Chomet)
This is a beautiful and sophisticated score that instantly brings you into the film’s environment.
It is one of the few scores you could bring home and play and people would never ask “What film is this from?”. At times poignant, other times jazz-influenced the score is one that could easily slip past notice. The Britoons songs are pure quirk-rock.
The “Amelie” film score for animation fans.
Favorite Tracks: North Sea, Illusionist Finale.
Bonus Score – The Lion King (Hans Zimmer)
Often overshadowed by the Elton John and Tim Rice songs, Hans Zimmer’s score for The Lion King, with African instruments and choir mixed in with his distinctive synthesizer/orchestra sounds, is simply beautiful.
Some of Zimmer’s scores prior to this (most notably Rain Man) seem like a warm up to The Lion King and he has certainly cemented his place in the film score world since it’s release
Standout Track: This Land, Under the Stars
Did I miss some-Which are your favorite animation film scores?