Here are the 10 best movie soundtracks of the 2010s

Despite the near constant overhype and superhero dredging, there were some particularly incredible films made over the past 10 years with some of the best movie soundtracks we’ve ever heard.

In the closing weeks of 2019, legendary composer Martin Scorsese sparked a worldwide debate when he commented on the importance of Marvel films stating:

“That’s not cinema. Honestly, the closest I can think of them, as well made as they are, with actors doing the best they can under the circumstances, is theme parks.”

A sincerely polite response considering the true feeling Scorsese no doubt harbours below the skin. Nonetheless we have whittled it down to the gems to commemorate the best movie soundtracks of the 2010s.

best movie soundtracks

Reflecting on a magnificent decade in the world of dramatic cinema we review the 10 best movie soundtracks of the 2010s.

10. The Grand Budapest Hotel – Alexandre Desplat

Of course every Wes Anderson film is accompanied by a unique and unforgettable score, but Alexandre Desplat’s work on The Grand Budapest Hotel is a cut above the rest.

It has all the components of a classic Wes film, it’s stylish, stirring and surprisingly emotional. Desplat honours Anderson’s genius with a composition that is sometimes understated, ever charming and intriguing to say the least.

9. Black Swan – Clint Mansell

Mental decline and distorted realities have never been better represented than in Clint Mansell’s exhilarating score. The edgy bouts of brooding malevolence are a perfect companion to the hyperreality of Darren Aronofsky’s disturbing film.

As a formidable composer-director duo, Mansell has done an impressive job with Black Swan by re-invigorating his old source material with a spike of contemporary darkness.

8. Sucker Punch – Various Covers

Zack Snyder’s brilliant film about five women trying to escape from a mental asylum also comes with an amazing soundtrack. Snyder is also a big fan or interpretations. As such the soundtrack includes Emily Browning’s haunting rendition of EurythmicsSweet Dreams (Are Made of This) among many others.

Each intense battle is bracketed by another cover including: Iggy Pop’s Search and Destroy from Skunk Anansie, The BeatlesTomorrow Never Knows with Alison Mosshart and Carla Azar, and Jefferson Airplane’s White Rabbit sung by Emiliana Torrini.

7. You Were Never Really Here – Jonny Greenwood

To match the mentally cold, hired retriever of kidnapped children, Joaqin Pheonix, masterful composer and Radiohead spearhead Jonny Greenwood has crafted an exceptional and calmly brutal score.

The touches of new-wave are a sign of measured sophistication as Pheonix gets behind the wheel or haunts his prey. Ultimately it’s Greenwood’s reserve that marks his maturity as a composer and willingness to subtly serve a film.

6. Cloud Atlas – Johnny Klimek, Reinhold Heil and Tom Tykwer

There is certainly an epic quality to the score of 2012’s Cloud Atlas. However, it’s not the inherently heroic moments that define the work from the trio.

Johnny Klimek, Reinhold Heil and Tom Tykwer have created something that, while not instantly recognisable, certainly feels fresh. From Prelude: The Atlas March to the wonderful ‘All Boundaries Are Conventions’  the score certainly succeeds in it’s originality where the film failed.

5. Mad Max: Fury Road – Brian May

Drums are back thanks to Zimmer! Mad Max: Fury Road is a chugging, gurgling throbbing warp of bongo mayhem. Almost the entire film is a chase, therefore it’s no wonder the score is so relentless.

The composer of the first two Mad Max movies, Brian May, was employed for the long awaited fourth film and did a resplendent job of encapsulating the madness.

4. Guardians Of The Galaxy – Various

Director James Gunn’s single desire when crafting the soundtrack for Guardians of the Galaxy was to find familiar songs that aren’t your classic radio staples. Collecting songs that he though Peter ‘Star Lord’ Quin would like, Gunn dipped into the seventies compiling David Bowie, the Runaways and Jackson 5.

Turns out he was onto something. After the first week Guardians of the Galaxy: Awesome Mix Vol. 1 topped the album charts and to this day it’s the first movie soundtrack to do so without one original song.

3. The Revenant – Sakamoto Ryuichi

In 2014 Japanese composer Sakamoto Ryuichi was diagnosed with stage three throat cancer. The following year Sakamoto endured an intense round of chemotherapy, after which he received a dire call from director Alejandro González Iñárritu asking him to fly to L.A. Gaunt and ravaged after just waking up Sakamoto accepting his offer to score The Revenant. 

Six months later Sakamoto wrote one of the greatest modern film scores capitalised by it’s terrifying space and haunting symphonic pulses. The piano strikes are dissonant before they rumble forwards like rapturous thunder. It’s the perfect representation of nature encompassing a wounded man scrambling through the tundra because it represents Sakamoto’s journey through the outskirts of death.

2. Inception

Single handedly changing movie trailers forever, Hans Zimmer’s score for Inception is one of the best movie soundtracks of all time. The sonic ingestion of DUMMMMM is something that has still implanted itself in my mind amidst the over complex plot.

The film single-handedly inspired me to learn lucid dreaming and the score is an equally impactful 49 minutes of industrial bass excellence. A mind-bending score for a mind-bending movie.

1. The Social Network – Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross

The composition from Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross for David Fincher’s 2010 film The Social Network is an eclectic score of electronica and dark ambience. The score won a total of nine award and was showered with high praise across the music industry.

Now regarded as one of the best movies of the past decade, The Social Network employs a rare soundtrack as worthy as the film itself. Reznor incorporates much of the industrial instrumentation that made him popular with Nine Inch Nails and perfectly accompanies a genius’ rise to power.

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