Music maketh movies. It’s always been so. After counting down the best film posters of the year and revelling in the best film quotes, here’s our ranking of the best film soundtracks – by which we mean both scores and soundtracks – of 2018.
Let us know what we’ve missed in the comments!
10. Suspiria – Thom York
Haunting, unsettling and often too much to bear, Radiohead star Thom Yorke’s feature soundtrack debut established him as a premiere film composer. One listen and you’ll need a lie down.
Top Track: ‘Suspirium’
9. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse – Daniel Pemberton
Every bit as lively and bonkers as the film it accompanied, Pemberton’s Spider-score is a joy. Add to that some well-written rap beats and a terrific headline track by Post Malone and Swae Lee and you have a top ten pick for us. Read our review here.
Top Track: ‘Spider-Man Loves You’/’Sunflower’
8. Black Panther – Ludwig Göransson
Göransson spent a month among the talking drums, tambins and Fula flutes of Senegal to bring together this rousing score for Marvel game-changer Black Panther. It paid off. The accompanying soundtrack album is a riot too. Read our review here.
Top Tracks: ‘All the Stars’/’Wakanda’
7. Mary Poppins Returns – Marc Shaiman
Some have harshly compared Shaiman’s Poppins sequel score to the Sherman brothers’ original but that does to overlook the singular merits of the new tracks. Scott Wittman aided Shaiman in crafting terrific wordplay for songs like ‘Can You Imagine That’ and broke our hearts with ‘A Conversation’. Practically perfect, as far as we’re concerned.
Top Track: ‘The Place Where Lost Things Go’
6. Coco – Michael Giacchino
Twelve-year-old Anthony Gonzalez nailed the charming lyrics of Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez’s ‘Remember Me’ for the Coco soundtrack and its no surprise the song won the Oscar for Best Original Song. That said, it’s Giacchino’s score, delightful at every turn, that wins the film so high a position. Read our review here.
Top Track: ‘Remember Me’
5. A Star Is Born
We knew the soundtrack for A Star Is Born would slay from the moment Bradley Cooper hired Lady Gaga as his leading lady but this one still blew our expectations out of the water. From Cooper’s winsome ‘Maybe It’s Time’ to Gaga’s heartbreaking ‘I’ll Never Love Again’, every song is a joy. The soundtrack features clips from the film too, helping you relive the experience over and over. Read our review here.
Top Track: ‘Shallow’
4. Phantom Thread – Jonny Greenwood
Daniel Day-Lewis’ elegiac swan song wouldn’t have been nearly so heart-wrenching were it not for the accompaniment of music from Radiohead’s (yes, another one) Jonny Greenwood. It glides, it weeps, it floats, it sails, we love it. Read our review here.
Top Track: ‘House of Woodcock’
3. First Man – Justin Hurwitz
Choosing a top track for this one was tough; frankly, any one of Hurwitz vintage compositions could have stolen the title. Performed by a 94-piece orchestra, the First Man score is every bit as epic as one would hope for so monumental a story, and yet retains Chazelle’s intimacy and personal depth. Lovely. Read our review here.
Top Track: ‘The Landing’
2. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs – Carter Burwell
Burwell is a Coen brothers favourite and it’s not hard to see why. Here, the composer marvellously captures the essence of Western cinema, as in No Country For Old Men before it. Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlings, meanwhile, provide a couple of genuinely brilliant original songs. Brendon Gleeson’s traditional ballad is a notable highpoint. Read our review here.
Top Track: ‘The Unfortunate Lad’
1. The Shape of Water – Alexandre Desplat
Desplat won his second Academy Award for his melodic accompaniment to Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water – and rightly so. A shimmering, romantic collection, this soundtrack seems to draw on Camille Saint-Saëns’ ‘Aquarium’ from ‘The Carnival of the Animals’, whilst making room for vintage classics from Glenn Miller and Carmen Miranda. Read our review here.
Top Track: ‘Elisa’s Theme’