In no specific order, here are my top personal picks for best film composer of all time.
Thomas Newman - What other man can compose music that turns a plastic bag into an object of wonder (American Beauty) and Robert Downey Jr.'s vomit into a catalyst for contemplation (Less Than Zero). Thomas is that man.
Sometimes, when we are lost in dark places, it takes just one word to guide us back. Save me the long-winded conversations and complicated orchestrations. Thomas lights the way by creating textures and subtle movements that unlock the hidden emotional life of a character in a scene. In doing this, Thomas provides us with a key to go deeper if we choose to use it.
Abel Korzeniowski - Abel's epic and sensual scores often include playful waltzes and stern strings that elicit feelings of resistance and danger. One example of such a feeling would be the fear of losing oneself in love or on a journey.
This kind of tension is the perfect accompaniment for a romance or gothic tale (Penny Dreadful), and the perfect music for me to play whilst applying black eyeliner.
I don't think I would put Abel on during a date unless I wanted to continue to self-sabotage my relationships. He makes heartbreak and depression sound too good.
"No More Drama," as Mary J. Blige would say.
Jerry Goldsmith - Years ago, I walked into a little record store in Oregon and found a vinyl edition of Jerry's score for a little known movie called Link starring Elizabeth Shue.
I guess you're wondering why, out of all the iconic scores he did in his lifetime, are you writing about Link. Well, it's for that very reason the soundtrack was unavailable to purchase or stream online at the time. Link recently just became available on Spotify, but I remember what a happy day it was for me to see that beautiful vinyl copy of Link staring down at me from the wall of the store. Perhaps it was delight from knowing that at least one other person out there knew and loved that obscure soundtrack enough to put it on display.
Rachel Portman - I'm just going to say it, there should be more females and POC on this list. I hope to continue this list one day with more of them represented as I don't see many or any of them getting hired for the big studio projects. It's really horrifying when you dive deep into it. You basically get Rachel and Quincy and then... For now, female or not, Rachel is one of my favorite living composers-so much so, that I would even consider having her "Marvin's Room" piece as my wedding theme. This will probably never happen, but I did send the piece to a good friend of mine when he announced his wedding so that I could live vicariously through him and imagine that he would play it at his wedding. He didn't.
Danny Elfman - As the coda for this first edition of the list, Danny has probably been the most influential artist for me. Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands, and Nightbreed are just a few of the quintessential scores that I find to be the most imaginative and otherworldly scores ever written. It's also good music for turning yourself into an outcast. Thank you, Danny, for your part in my alienation. I would not have had it any other way.
To be continued...