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The 20 Best Movie Soundtracks Released in 2020

Let us celebrate the wonderful movie music this year has blessed us with.
Best Movie Scores Soundtracks 2020
By  · Published on December 30th, 2020

Darkman (La-La Land Records)

Darkman Th

Long requested by fans, La-La Land’s expansion of Danny Elfman‘s score for Sam Raimi’s 1990 superhero horror movie Darkman reveals something much more tragic and bellicose, a throwback to the music of the Universal monster movies. Perhaps the greatest material in the score, though, comes from the tragic love story, where both lush and brooding tones intersect without a true resolution. The substantial expansion and great sound quality put this as a fantastic release of a truly underrated superhero movie.

Driveways (Milan Records)

Driveways Cover

Jay Wadley‘s score for Andrew Ahn’s Driveways, a film featuring the final performance of Brian Dennehy, feels like slipping into a beautiful dream. It’s like laying down and wrapping yourself in these delicately spaced piano notes, with the warm and empathetic strings comforting you, leaving you to float amidst memories and reflect on their importance to you. It’s not quite ambient; it feels more lucid in its design for that, but the gift this music gives you in the way it lets you meditate inside it is a rare one indeed, as well as supplying an emotionally resonant underpinning for the film itself.

Emma. (Back Lot Music)

Emma Omps

A delightfully witty yet faithful take on the period score, Isobel Waller-Bridge and David Schweitzer‘s music for Emma. is impossibly charming and will have you swooning at its beauty while chuckling at its irreverence. You could likely spend all day entranced by not only its melodies but also its color, especially the prominent use of woodwinds, and it would be easy to wrap yourself up in the whole thing and never come out again. With how 2020 has worked out, there are worse things you could do.

Enola Holmes (Milan Records)

Enola Holmes Pemberton soundtracks 2020

In terms of importance to the success of Netflix’s cute take on London’s greatest detective, there’s Millie Bobby Brown’s endearing central performance and Daniel Pemberton‘s enthrallingly enchanting score. Pemberton pushes along like a steam train, with his delightful main theme contrasting strings and guitar to give Enola those famous Holmes smarts with her independent edge. The composer brings his usual bag of tricks to make it his own, including a great use of accordion, and by the time he wraps it all up, you’ll be demanding a sequel if only to hear more of Pemberton’s marvelous music.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (Quartet Records)

Good The Bad And The Ugly Expanded soundtracks 2020

With the sad passing of Ennio Morricone earlier this year, Quartet has done perhaps the best thing with a release of the full score to inarguably his best-known work, the spaghetti western The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Presented over three discs, Morricone’s score sounds glorious, with that iconic main title, the beautiful cues for the civil war sequences, and the final “Ecstasy of Gold.” The album features just about everything you would ever need, including unused music, alternate takes, and a remastered version of the original 1966 album. Essential.

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Charlie Brigden is the author of many fine soundtrack liner notes and Blu-ray booklet essays and some call him a film music expert. He also recorded a commentary for Howard the Duck. You can find him on Twitter here: @brigdenwriter. (He/Him)