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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

I’m Your Woman (Lakeshore Records)

I Am Your Woman Soundtrack

A late discovery, Aska Matsumiya‘s score for Julia Hart’s throwback neo-noir I’m Your Woman fits neatly not only within the musical soundscape of the 1970s when the film takes place but also the detective mystery picture. There’s an immediate laconic feel to Matsumiya’s minimalist piano as it introduces the score before violent percussion interrupts it, with low-end strings that feel like a knife scraping against flesh and bone. However, this threat is often in the distance, second to the sound of the past conjured by solo piano, which ultimately defines this beautiful score.

The Invisible Man (Back Lot Music)

Invisible Man Soundtrack

Is it right to say Benjamin Wallfisch has evolved beyond the need for Hans Zimmer? After composing (and arranging) the best part of Dunkirk and two great horror scores for the IT franchise, his music for the reimagining of H.G. Wells’ The Invisible Man is fascinating and terrifying in the same instance. What’s amazing is the way it gets under your skin so quickly and launches you on a sonic journey hurtling into an abyss where electronics and orchestra reverberate into every part of you. It’s not just terror, either, with Wallfisch displaying his innate talent for emotional warmth and empathy, which makes the other parts come together to cohere into a deliriously off-kilter whole, only to sober up for that devastatingly beautiful finale.

King of Kings (Tadlow Music)

King of kings soundtracks 2020

Covid-19 and seemingly a decrease in interest have put a dampener on the re-recording of scores this year, but Tadlow Music has still managed to bring us a top-class release of Miklos Rozsa‘s huge score to the 1961 biblical epic King of Kings. A towering example of golden age film music, Rozsa’s score as recorded runs nearly two and a half hours — Tadlow has reconstructed the entire work and recorded it with the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra led by Nic Raine, and it’s an utter joy. Rozsa was incomparable when it came to writing this kind of gigantic music for epic pictures, and King of Kings stands alongside Ben-Hur as the best type of its ilk. A majestic achievement.

Legends of the Fall (Intrada Records)

Legends Of The Fall soundtracks 2020

James Horner may have left us in 2015, but we are especially thankful for Intrada’s expansion of his score to the 1994 Edward Zwick drama Legends of the Fall. The subject matter of the film afforded Horner a huge canvas on which to paint, and he took full advantage, writing a full-blooded emotionally-rich work bursting with sumptuous flavors of Americana. It’s not subtle, nor was it intended to be; this is Horner in epic mode, and it rarely disappoints. Your mileage might vary with Horner in this form, but it’s a striking score and deserves to be in your collection.

Mank (Null Corporation)

Mank Soundtrack

One hopes that, together with Soul, the score for David Fincher’s Hollywood history picture Mank, will earn Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross a bit more respect. This one has the pair tailoring their style to a much more classical feel; the days of big Hollywood and the likes of Max Steiner, Dimitri Tiomkin, and of course Bernard Herrmann (who made his film scoring debut with Citizen Kane), and they pull it off with aplomb, supplying a dramatic and often witty score that successfully pulls you back to the days of old, only without the poor health and mass corruption. Now repeat after me: Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross are legitimate composers.

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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)