Best Oscar Winning Movies of All Time

'Star Wars,' 'Ben-Hur,' 'Lord of the Rings': The 25 best Oscar-winning film scores of all time

Both good scores, although Gladiator is overdone. And both are a bit derivative. Gladiator was in the same year as Chocolat, too, another possible winner.
In hindsight, The Pink Panther deserves to have been given an Oscar - it's not just a film but an entire series of films plus cartoons plus probably a hundred other merchandising tie-ins, all on the basis of that score. On the other hand, it lost to Mary Poppins, which was a a pretty significant score in its own right.

Three scores that weren't even nominated:
- The Conversation (beautiful, haunting, mostly piano and sax, combining classicism, jazz, musique concrete and expressive underscoring - appealing, memorable, attractive yet deep. People clearly knew about the film (Palme d'Or, three Oscar nominations), it's a terrible omission not to have nominated the score. Though it was a tough year, and I guess politically it might have been tough, since the Oscar went to another film by the same director. I guess two score nominations for Coppola's family on Coppola's films might have been more than the Coppola name could push for?

- The Taking of Pelham 123. Same composer again (David Shire), but the opposite music - the Conversation is controlled, but Pelham is wild, one of the most incredibly energetic scores ever. And it makes the film. It's never just noise, but it's also never quite graspable - he uses atonal 12-tone rows (an avant garde technique normally associated with very 'difficult' art music of the early 20th century) and makes them sound like jazz.
Shire was never nominated for Score, although he did win for song. Aside from these two films, he also did All the President's Men, Farewell My Lovely, Short Circuit, Return to Oz, Zodiac, and Saturday Night Fever.

- Jurassic Park. Seriously, they never nominated Jurassic Park? OK, so the reason is obvious - because he was busy winning the thing for Schindler's List the same year. But it really deserved at least a nomination, and I'm sure it would have gotten one a year earlier or a year later (though maybe not the win - vs Aladdin and The Lion King!). It's a stunning score that shows off a lot of Williams' range, from the lush awe-inducing romanticism through to Jaws-esque suspense. And again: it's a high-pressure score, because if you stick the wrong score onto Jurassic Park it would be in danger of making the film look laughable. Williams is if anything under-rated, because Spielberg set him a lot of problems: Spielberg's great films so often played right on the edge of mawkish or saccherine, the sentimentality SO intense that it's only because it was backed up by fantastic scoring that he was able to pull it off. In Jurassic Park, you take that sentimentality, and then add in some cute children, some dodgy science, and then have people chased by rubber dinosaurs - the score needs to work really hard to make sure people take it seriously! (but not SO seriously that they don't have fun...)

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