Choose the Best Film Composer of All Time

Vote for the composer who you believe to be the greatest movie composer ever. Whose music is the best? Choose your answer carefully.

#1 John Williams

Williams is the best known Hollywood composer of his day. He has been composing scores for film, TV, and the Olympics for over five decades. He is the composer for films such as Star Wars, Jaws, Jurassic Park, The Book Thief, Schindler's List, and The Towering Inferno.

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#2 Jerry Goldsmith (1929-2004)

Goldsmith had a rather expansive career in film scoring, leading him to work on productions such as Planet of the Apes, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Alien, Air Force One, The Ghost and the Darkness, and others. He even composed music for The Twilight Zone TV series in his early career.

#3 Hans Zimmer

This guy has a lot under his belt including credits in such films as The Lion King, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Rock, Madagascar, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Interstellar, and The Dark Knight trilogy. He has won numerous awards.

#4 Bernard Herrmann (1911-1975)

Herrmann has composed some of the most renowned movie soundtracks in the history of cinema. These include the bizarrely eerie themes for the original The Day the Earth Stood Still as well as the famous theme from Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho. Other films he worked on include Fahrenheit 451, Jason and the Argonauts, The Birds, and Journey to the Center of the Earth.

#5 John Powell

Well noted for his scores for animated feature films, Powell's list of credits includes Rio, Shrek, How to Train Your Dragon, X-Men: The Last Stand, and Bolt. Powell has collaborated extensively with Hans Zimmer. He is also scoring the upcoming Benedict Cumberbatch movie The Grinch.

#6 Alfred Newman (1900-1970)

The uncle of composer Randy Newman, Alfred Newman's scores appeared in dozens of films including The Robe, How the West Was Won, How Green Was My Valley, The Mark of Zorro, The King and I, My Friend Flicka, and others. Until John Williams beat his record, Newman had obtained the most Oscar nominations for any film composer.

#7 Randy Newman

Randy Newman is a renowned composer and talented vocalist who has composed music for movies like Toy Story, Seabiscuit, Cars, A Bug's Life, and Monsters University. He also performed the theme song for the popular crime series MONK.

#8 Mark Mothersbaugh

Just his scoring of The Lego Movie alone makes Mothersbaugh eligible in this competition. But he has also composed music for plenty of other movies like Thor: Ragnarok, The Royal Tenenbaums, Hotel Transylvania, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, and more.

#10 Michael Giacchino

Giacchino has gotten to contribute scores to some of the most popular film franchises of all time. The list of films he has scored includes Land of the Lost, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Star Trek: Beyond, Inside Out, Jurassic World, Doctor Strange, Rogue One, Spider-Man: Homecoming, and more.


What do you think?

Written by John Tuttle


  1. This list is too top heavy with current composers, and ignores far too many giants.

    My vote for best all-time would be John Barry, the first superstar composer. He’s best known for the early James Bond films, and he won five Oscars. His music for “Dances with Wolves” is becoming a standard part of the concert repertoire.

    Where is Ennio Morricone? No list of great film composers is complete without him. His scores for “Once Upon a Time in the West,” “Once Upon a Time in America,” and “The Mission” are all masterpieces; “Gabriel’s Oboe” is easily a pice Mozart might have written.

    Were this my top ten list, it would be, in order of preference: John Barry, Ennio Morricone, Jerry Goldsmith, Bernard Herrmann, Elmer Bernstein, Henry Mancini, James Horner, Wojciech Kilar, Howard Shore, and Thomas Newman.