THE TOP TEN
American Gangster (Marc Streitenfeld – Varese): An ultra-hip urban score never lets up with the thrill of the crime.
Beowulf (Alan Silvestri – Warner Bros.): With its big, bold themes, this is a soundtrack for the heroic ages.
The Kite Runner (Alberto Iglesias – Deutsche Grammophon): The tragedy of Afghanistan and the bonds of childhood friendship find a poetic, soaring power.
La Vie en Rose (Christopher Gunning – EMI): A gorgeously sad score revels in the tormented, eternally romantic soul of singing legend Edith Piaf.
Lust / Caution (Alexandre Desplat – Decca): The melodic charms of ways of seduction finds its erotic instinct like never before.
Ratatouille (Michael Giacchino – Walt Disney): With a classic comedic vibe worthy of Henry Mancini’s French farces, this rodent’s music really cooks.
Sunshine (John Murphy – Unreleased): A mission to the sun becomes a hypnotic journey in alternative sci-fi scoring.
Stardust (Ilan Eshkeri – Decca): Storybook legends come true with a wondrous score that finds the magic of a fractured fairy tale.
There Will Be Blood (Jonny Greenwood – Nonesuch): The sound behind Radiohead strikes gold with an astonishingly modern approach for a turn-of-the-century oil tycoon.
300 (Tyler Bates – Warner Bros.): Spartan fury gets pumped up with a dynamic mix of headbanging rock and orchestral thunder.
Honorable Song Mention – Once (Glen Hansard / Marketa Irglova – Columbia): Even if these two Irish buskers never find romance, their tunes make for a beautifully heartfelt folk opera.
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (Nick Cave / Warren Ellis – iTunes): A spare, yet elegantly elegiac approach to the myth of the western.
Eastern Promises (Howard Shore – Sony Classical): The darkness of the Russian Mafia gets surprising, and moving tenderness that sings with the wages of sin.
Enchanted (Alan Menken – Walt Disney): The king of Disney music has a blast making fun of the oh-so-happy toons that put him on top of the Oscar heap.
Fracture (Jeff and Mychael Danna – Silva Screen): The sound of the perfect murder becomes a lushly diabolical nail biter.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Nicholas Hooper – Warner Bros.): The dark magic of Harry’s world takes on an impressive dramatic gravitas under a new musical wand.
The Lookout (James Newton Howard – iTunes): The suspense of film noir takes on a truly rural threat in this gripping, mixed-up mind trip.
Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium (Aaron Zigman and Alexandre Desplat- Varese): Childhood magic has never sounded as pure, or joyful as it does in this glittering score.
Rescue Dawn (Klaus Badelt – Milan): A war prisoner’s ordeal becomes a spare, yet immensely moving lesson in musical existentialism.
Rocket Science (Eef Barzelay – Lakeshore): A clever, string-driven score wins the argument for inventiveness in the screwball world of high school debating.
Waitress (Andrew Hollander – Unreleased): The love of pie gets released with beautiful, folksy warmth.
COMPOSERS TO WATCH: Olivier Bernet (Perseopolis), Scott Bomar (Black Snake Moan), Tim Curran (Hangman’s House), Harry Escott / Molly Nyman (A Mighty Heart), Scott Glasgow (Hack), Gordy Haab (Behind the Mask), Christian Henson (Severance), Jon and Al Kaplan (Just Pals), Victoria Kelly (Black Sheep), Penka Kouneva (The Third Nail), Don MacDonald (Fido), Blake Neeley (Starter for 10), Daniel P. Newman (Bryan Loves You), Yuri Poteyenko (Daywatch), Brian Reitzell (30 Days of Night), Francois Tetaz (Rogue), David Torn (Lars and the Real Girl), Lyle Workman (Superbad)