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Ryuichi Sakamoto carefully selects the best film music of all time - what would your top 5/10/25 look like?

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I am curious what your top 5/10/25 film music tracks of all time would be. I am really interested in what people consider the best individual film music tracks of all time. First mention your top 5 film music tracks of all time, then five more for a top 10, and finally 15 honorable mentions for a top 25. Please take your time, I know that this is hard. We are limiting ourselves to one track per composer. Also if possible, try to rank your top 3 tracks of all time - who would you give the gold, silver and bronze medal to when it comes to writing the best individual film music track of all time?

 

Ryuichi Sakamoto made a list of what he considers the best film music tracks of all time to be - most of them I have included on my list since I agree with him so much - Sakamoto seems to have impeccable taste. He carefully narrowed hundreds of favourite film music tracks that he had been collecting down to just 22 tracks. The only three tracks that he selected for his list that I didn't were the tracks Ferdinand from Pierrot le Fou composed by Antoine Duhamel, Today It's You from A Man and a Woman composed by Francis Lai and Tema di Aziza from Arabian Nights composed by Ennio Morricone; I limited myself to one track per composer, that is why I didn't include the last track. When it came to two first tracks, I prefered some other tracks over them. He also only mentioned 22 tracks, I added three more tracks to make it a top 25. He also only listed his top 22 film music tracks in no particular order (it had to fit one CD that is why he didn't pick more), I decided to try to pick my 5/10 most favourite film music tracks out of the top 25 too.

 

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These are the five tracks that I added for my top 25 that Sakamoto didn't include in his list (although the track from Close Encounters of the Third Kind seemed to have been among his runner ups):

 

Love Theme from Chinatown composed by Jerry Goldsmith
Outstretched Hands from Close Encounters of the Third Kind composed by John Williams
The Battle on the Ice: April 5, 1242 (Peregrinus expectavi) from Alexander Nevsky composed by Sergei Prokofiev
Duel and Death of Hamlet from Hamlet composed by Dmitri Shostakovich

Always Returning from For All Mankind composed by Brian Eno

 

These 5 film music tracks represents the best film music of all time according to me:

 

I Fill This Room With the Echo of Many Voices from Blue composed by Simon Fisher Turner

Belle Reve from A Streetcar Named Desire composed by Alex North - This is both mine and Sakamoto's favourite film music track of all time - he only singled out his top 2 film music tracks of all time - first the North track, then the Takemitsu track from Jose Torres and he also said that that North was a genius - he didn't rank the 20 other tracks on his top 22. North defeated everyone else when it came to writing the best individual film music track of all time, Takemitsu took the silver medal. I agree with the statement made by Sakamoto that Takemitsu wrote the second best film music track of all time after North. The bronze spot is for me is very difficult to decide on since I love all of the other tracks too. Maybe the Honegger track would have been my pick right now, but really, I don't want to pick between them. I do feel pretty confident about what my top 5 film music tracks of all time are though - the Auric would be my 6th pick.

Jose Torres from Jose Torres composed by Toru Takemitsu

Prelude from 49th Parallel composed by Ralph Vaughan Williams

Les Ombres from Napoleon composed by Arthur Honegger

 

5 more tracks for a top 10 would be:

 

Beauty and Avenant from Beauty and the Beast composed by Georges Auric

East of Eden Main Title from East of Eden composed by Leonard Rosenman

Olmo E Alfredo from 1900 composed by Ennio Morricone

Train from Stalker composed by Eduard Artemyev

American Beauty from American Beauty composed by Thomas Newman

 

15 honorable mentions for a top 25 film music tracks of all time would be:

 

Always Returning from For All Mankind composed by Brian Eno

Maybe You're My Puppet from Solaris composed by Cliff Martinez
Love Theme from Chinatown composed by Jerry Goldsmith
Outstretched Hands from Close Encounters of the Third Kind composed by John Williams
Rochester from Jane Eyre composed by Bernard Herrmann
Gelsomina from La Strada composed by Nino Rota
Camille from Contempt composed by Georges Delerue
Journal De Bord from Les Aventuriers composed by François de Roubaix
Grey Waltz from Life Dances On composed by Maurice Jaubert
Overture from The Alamo composed by Dimitri Tiomkin
A Boat in the Fog from King Kong composed by Max Steiner
Kings Row Main Title from Kings Row composed by Erich Wolfgang Korngold
The Best Years of Our Lives Main Title from The Best Years of Our Lives composed by Hugo Friedhofer
The Battle on the Ice: April 5, 1242 (Peregrinus expectavi) from Alexander Nevsky composed by Sergei Prokofiev
Duel and Death of Hamlet from Hamlet composed by Dmitri Shostakovich

 

20 out of these 25 tracks are on Sakamoto's list.

 

Notable rejections/omissions on his part is that he didn't include any Williams, Goldsmith etc on his sole film music CD among his top 22 film music tracks of all time.

 

What would your top 5/10/25 film music tracks of all time look like? Thoughts on Sakamoto's/my list (mine and Sakamoto's list are almost the same save for five or so tracks and aside from the fact that he didn't pick his top 5/10 - except his top 2 - like I did)?

 

Imagine what someone like Giacchino for instance would have selected as the best film music tracks of all time (is he even familiar with North, Takemitsu, Auric, Fisher Turner etc?), a frightening thought...

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55 minutes ago, TheUlyssesian said:

I find your post confusing. Can you list the 22 he picked followed by the 25 that you picked? I am not able to follow who picked what.

I decided to just post just once instead of posting two lists since I agreed with him so much. Sorry, it was 23 tracks that he picked actually, I forgot that he picked two Morricone tracks.

 

Sure, here are all of the top 23 tracks he picked for his CD (my list is very similiar except that I excluded the first three tracks, the fact that I added three more tracks to make it a top 25 and also limit myself to one track per composer):

 

Ferdinand from Pierrot le Fou composed by Antoine Duhamel

Today It's You from A Man and a Woman composed by Francis Lai

Tema di Aziza from Arabian Nights composed by Ennio Morricone

I Fill This Room With the Echo of Many Voices from Blue composed by Simon Fisher Turner

Belle Reve from A Streetcar Named Desire composed by Alex North - This is his favourite track of all time, and I agree with him

Jose Torres from Jose Torres composed by Toru Takemitsu - And this was his second favourite track of all time, and I also agreed with him on that

Prelude from 49th Parallel composed by Ralph Vaughan Williams

Les Ombres from Napoleon composed by Arthur Honegger

Beauty and Avenant from Beauty and the Beast composed by Georges Auric

East of Eden Main Title from East of Eden composed by Leonard Rosenman

Olmo E Alfredo from 1900 composed by Ennio Morricone

Train from Stalker composed by Eduard Artemyev

American Beauty from American Beauty composed by Thomas Newman

Maybe You're My Puppet from Solaris composed by Cliff Martinez
Rochester from Jane Eyre composed by Bernard Herrmann
Gelsomina from La Strada composed by Nino Rota
Camille from Contempt composed by Georges Delerue
Journal De Bord from Les Aventuriers composed by François de Roubaix
Grey Waltz from Life Dances On composed by Maurice Jaubert
Overture from The Alamo composed by Dimitri Tiomkin
A Boat in the Fog from King Kong composed by Max Steiner
Kings Row Main Title from Kings Row composed by Erich Wolfgang Korngold
The Best Years of Our Lives Main Title from The Best Years of Our Lives composed by Hugo Friedhofer

 

20 out of his 23 picks are on my own top 25 since I agreed with him so much.

 

I excluded the first three tracks that he selected for his CD, and added the Eno, Williams, Goldsmith, Shostakovich and Prokofiev to make it a top 25.

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2 hours ago, Cherry Pie That'll Kill Ya said:

So he picks a lot of obscure shit no-one's heard.

 

Obscure? I've heard at least 90% of Sakamoto's selections. And great selections they are too! Cool shout-out to PIERROT LE FOU, my favourite Godard (even though Godard's tinkering with Duhamel's material left the composer baffled).

 

I'm surprised he picked a cue from Artemiev's STALKER rather than SOLARIS (opting to include the Martinez SOLARIS instead), since he's such a big fan of Artemiev's work on Tarkovsky's space sci fi. But maybe it's first and foremost Artemiev's Bach variations he's fond of. He goes into this in some detail in the brilliant documentary CODA, which everyone should see!

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Tracklisting
1    
Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra by Adriano / Arthur Honegger: Napoléon (Original Version) - Les Ombres
映画『ナポレオン』 (オリジナル・ヴァージョン)より - レゾンブル
2    
BBC Symphony Orchestra by Pierre Boulez / Arnold Schönberg: Accompaniment to A Cinematographic Scene, Op.34
映画の一場面の伴奏音楽 作品34
3    
Moscow Symphony Orchestra by William Stromberg / Max Steiner: King Kong - A Boat in the Fog
映画『キング・コング』より - ア・ボート・イン・ザ・フォグ
4    
Maurice Jaubert / Un Carnet de Bal - Valse Grise
映画『舞踏会の手帖』より - 灰色のワルツ
5    
RTE Concert Orchestra by Andrew Penny / Ralph Vaughan Williams: 49Th Parallel - Prelude
映画『潜水艦轟沈す』より - プレリュード
6    
Warner Bros. Studio Orchestra by Erich Wolfgang Korngold / Erich Wolfgang Korngold: Kings Row - Main Title
映画『嵐の青春』より - メイン・タイトル
7    
Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra by Adriano / Bernard Herrmann: Jane Eyre - Rochester
映画『ジェーン・エア』より - ロチェスター
8    
Moscow Symphony Orchestra by Adriano / Georges Auric: La Belle et La Bête (Beauty and the Beast) - La Belle et Avenant (Beauty and Avenant)
映画『美女と野獣』より - ビューティ・アンド・アヴナント
9    
London Philharmonic Orchestra by Franco Collura / Hugo Friedhofer: The Best Years of Our Lives - Main Title
映画『我等の生涯の最良の年』より - メイン・タイトル
10    
London Symphony Orchestra by Eric Stern / Alex North: A Streetcar Named Desire - Belle Reve
映画『欲望という名の電車』より - 美しき夢
11    
Carlo Savina (conductor) / Nino Rota: La Strada - Gelsomina
映画『道』より - ジェルソミーナ
12    
London Sinfonietta by John Adams / Leonard Rosenman: East of Eden - Main Title
映画『エデンの東』より - メイン・タイトル
13    
武満徹 / José Torres - José Torres
映画『ホゼー・トレス』より - ホゼー・トレス
14    
Dimitri Tiomkin / The Alamo - Overture
映画『アラモ』より - オーバーチュア(序曲)
15    
Georges Delerue / Le Mépris - Camille
映画『軽蔑』より - カミーユ
16    
Antoine Duhamel / Pierrot le Fou - Ferdinand
映画『気狂いピエロ』より - フェルディナン
17    
Francis Lai, Pierre Barouh, Baden Powell & Nicole Croisille / Francis Lai: Un Homme et Une Femme - Aujourd'hui C'est Toi
映画『男と女』より - 今日、あなたが
18    
François de Roubaix / Les Aventuriers - Journal de Bord
映画『冒険者たち』より - 航海日誌
19    
Ennio Morricone / Il Fiore delle Mille e Una Notte - Tema di Aziza
映画『アラビアンナイト』より - テーマ・ディ・アジーザ
20    
Ennio Morricone / Novecento - Olmo e Alfredo
映画『1900年』より - オルモとアルフレード
21    
Eduard Artemiev / Stalker - Train
映画『ストーカー』より - トレイン
22    
Simon Fisher Turner / Blue - I Fill This Room with the Echo of Many Voices
映画『ブルー』より - アイ・フィル・ディス・ルーム・ウィズ・ジ・エコー・オブ・メニー・ヴォイセス
23    
Thomas Newman / American Beauty - American Beauty
映画『アメリカン・ビューティー』より - アメリカン・ビューティー
24    
Cliff Martinez / Solaris - Maybe You'Re My Puppet
映画『ソラリス』より - メイビー・ユア・マイ・パペット

 

 

I did just not find the Soundtrack for blue:

 

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21 hours ago, Alexcremers said:

Would love that CD but it's 80 bucks.

Same! I am a pretty big fan of Sakamoto, and his async album was my favourite album last year. Anyway, this thing is way too expensive, and especially since I already owned most of the music before I discovered his list. I decided to just grab some of the tracks that he mentioned which I didn't have before and through someone I managed to access parts of the booklet that comes with the CD to read some of the comments on all the various tracks. I can't improve much on his list and think it is exceptional, I agree with the vast majority of it. I think only two of the tracks were previously unfamiliar for me, I hadn't heard the Lai track, but I agree that it is great, even if it doesn't make my personal top 25. Also the François de Roubaix track was news to me, another great track, maybe Roubaix at his best.

 

Bespin - your Spotify list is not entirely correct, you have picked some of the wrong versions of the tracks he selected and not all of it is on Spotify. The specific Takemitsu track he selected for the CD is not the entire 5 minute suite thing, it is the 1 minute something track which I uploaded to YouTube above. I uploaded the track from Blue too, which I included among my top 5 tracks of all time. It is hard to think of more intimate film music, it is hard to think of ambient music done better than it in film, the only possible exception I can think of is Eno's For All Mankind, which inhabits a similiar kind of soundscape as this, but both are different. It is also hard to think of other film music were spoken word is used on this level.

 

I accidentally deleted the booklet that comes with the CD that I partly got access to, but in it Sakamoto and a few critics/professors (I can't remember exactly) discuss all his picks. His picks are not discussed in great detail, but more like brief thoughts on his picks. It might be of interest to some of you reading this, here is one or two of the things I remember reading in it:

 

Steiner in his film music was apparently superior to Korngold according to Sakamoto. He also said that Gone with the Wind was of high quality too, even if he prefered the moody track from King Kong - probably Steiner's best.

 

He also said something about that Pierrot le Fou didn't impress him first, the music that is, but it is one of his favourite films and he seems to have grown to love the music too, despite his initial impression. The Tiomkin from The Alamo he included for selfish reasons, I think he said something that it was one of the first film scores he remembered and that he loved.

 

At a later date, Sakamoto selected some of the best music movies - some of the movies that according to him have the best music, here is the list of the movies he selected for some events:

 

A Streetcar Named Desire

East of Eden

Blue

The Garden

King Kong

Jose Torres & Jose Torres part 2

Kwaidan

Beauty and the Beast

Solaris (the Tarkovsky film)

Stalker

Nostalghia

The Sacrifice

India Song

Son nom de Venise dans Calcutta désert

Elevator to the Gallows

Pierrot le Fou

Hiroshima Mon Amour

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg

Histoire(s) du cinéma

Ugetsu

Citizen Kane

Ivan the Terrible

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari

 

I wish more top film composers selected their favourite film music like this, even if I probably would disagree a whole lot with say what Zimmer, Giacchino etc might have selected.

 

Sakamoto strikes me as the person with the best taste in music, not just going by his film music list, but also the fairly recent restaurant playlist which he made, this one:

 

https://open.spotify.com/playlist/2YY3rAwm9tldNhlBmuMqgY

 

I will say that I don't love everything he included here, but at least it is an interesting list which is to me pretty rare. Most of it was new to me too - I made a few wonderful discoveries thanks to his restaurant playlist.

 

I love this track for instance: 

 

 

Gotta love that minimalist influence - new-age at its best.

 

So first North is the most underrated film composer of all time, followed by Rosenman and third would probably be Simon Fisher Turner as the third most underrated film composer of all time. I am not very familar with Fisher Turner, even if I have always loved Blue since I saw it years ago. I sampled The Garden on Spotify after I saw Sakamoto including it among his best music movies, but unlike Blue, I don't think I will love this one, but I will give it a try at a later date I suppose.

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