The 20 Best Movie Scores of the Decade
From Jonny Greenwood’s “Phantom Thread” score to Jonny Greenwood’s “You Were Never Really Here” score, here’s the best movie music of the 2010s.
By David Ehrlich, Kate Erbland, Chris O’Falt, Michael Nordine
Jul 26, 2019 11:00 am
18. “The Tree of Life” (Alexandre Desplat)
It isn’t easy to score a Terrence Malick film. For one thing, you never know how much of your music will actually make it into the final cut, or when that cut might see the light of day. For another, your contributions will likely have to compete with several of the greatest orchestral compositions ever written, as Alexandre Desplat discovered when the brunt of the symphonic pieces he contributed to “The Tree of Life” were thrown aside in favor of timeless masterworks from the likes of Gustav Mahler, Hector Berlioz, and Johannes Brahms. It’s hard to compete with Brahms!
But Desplat, who tends to excel in a classical vein, delivered one of his best scores anyway. Malick may be ruthless, but he also has a way of finding the perfect images to make someone’s music feel transcendent (just ask Ennio Morricone). Desplat’s subtle, insistent arrangements lend a delicate forcefulness to Malick’s vision of the past, and layer a hushed awe over his glimpse of the future. The score is used sparingly, but it sometimes literally strings the movie together as Malick connects the dots between the Big Bang and Sean Penn. It’s a thing of quiet wonder, and a powerful reminder that Malick eventually gets the best out of his collaborators. —DE