10. Lord of the Rings
score by Howard Shore
Composer Howard Shore had his work cut out for him when he agreed to compose all three films in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy. Middle-earth has a dazzling variety of locales (Hobbiton, Minas Tirith, Mordor), and Shore provides the leitmotifs to match. The pastoral home of the hobbits becomes even more charming with Shore’s themes in the background. Shore applies a range of musical styles that can be peaceful, hypnotic, or disturbing depending on the scenario at play.
Jackson’s over-the-top staging of battle sequences is matched by Shore’s aggressive orchestrations. As the plot gets darker, so does the music. Another composer might have composed a cloying score with too much sweetness or a more modern score with nothing but nonchalant percussive beats. Shore treats the material with the respect it deserves.