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The Screening Room's Top 10 Original Movie Scores

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  • CNN's The Screening Room picks the top 10 original movie scores
  • Singin' in the Rain, "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly" come out on top
  • Think we've missed one? Post your comments to the Screening Room blog
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(CNN) -- From Ennio Morricone to Hans Zimmer, John Williams to Danny Elfman, this month we're celebrating music in the movies with our top ten favorite original film soundtracks.

John Williams' score for "E.T." was our favorite example of his work, even beating "Star Wars"

Don't agree? Think we've missed one? Post your comments to the Screening Room blog and we'll publish the best.

Read other CNN viewers' favorite movie music and tell us yours >>


1. Singin' in the Rain - Arthur Freed and Nacio Herb Brown
Stanley Donen, Gene Kelly, 1952
The MGM movie machine compiled Arthur Freed and Nacio Herb Brown's collaborations to create a spellbinding musical comedy. Gene Kelly performed with effortless panache; Debbie Reynolds charmed the audience as the hidden talent; but Jean Hagen stole the show with her grating-voiced New Yoik diva. Pure class.

2. The Good, The Bad and the Ugly -- Ennio Morricone
Sergio Leone, 1966
No one else can conjure so vividly a world of cowboys, gunsmoke and wide, open plains with just a few wavering notes of harmonica. The score for "The Mission" might be stronger musically, but for us, Morricone means Westerns, and we can't resist choosing this as our favorite.

3. E.T. -- John Williams
Steven Spielberg, 1982
While the approaching "duh duh duh duh" of "Jaws" still sends chills up our spines and "Star Wars" gave us the Darth Vader March, we've chosen E.T. to represent John Williams's most towering achievement. Its sheer, soaring beauty truly created a world of hope amongst the stars.

4. The Lion King -- Hans Zimmer
Roger Allers and Rob Minkoff, 1994
With its classic hits "Circle of Life" and "Hakuna Matata," these Elton John and Tim Rice songs could well claim to make this king of the soundtracks -- and that's before you add in Hans Zimmer's score. It swept up the double at the Oscars and the Golden Globes, and rightly so.

5. Nightmare before Christmas -- Danny Elfman
Henry Selick, 1993
Longtime Burton collaborator Danny Elfman's finest work yet. Always deft, at times haunting ("Jack's Lament") and filled with childlike wonder ("What's This?"), this spooky seasonal classic sparkles with delight. Just keep an eye out for the Oogie Boogie...

6. Goldfinger -- John Barry
Guy Hamilton, 1964
Monty Norman's "James Bond Theme" is as integral to the Bond franchise as a Walther PPK and a dry martini; John Barry's orchestrations remain definitive. As for the theme song, nobody does it better than Shirley Bassey, whose majestic "Goldfinger" left us both shaken and stirred.

7. Lord of the Rings trilogy -- Howard Shore
Peter Jackson, 2001-2003
Shore's sweeping, Wagnerian scores provided the perfect counterpoint to Middle Earth's fantastical world. His leitmotifs wove ethereal Elven music, playful Hobbit themes and the dark sounds of the Mordor hordes into intricate soundscapes, while Enya and Annie Lennox lent their vocals to the stirring songs.

8. Saturday Night Fever -- The Bee Gees
John Badham, 1977
"Ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, stayin' alive!" John Travolta's dancefloor shapes would never have captured the zeitgeist so firmly without the Gibb brothers' pumping disco soundtrack, which glitters and writhes with sweaty 70's energy.

9. This Is Spinal Tap -- Spinal Tap
Rob Reiner, 1984
"Turn it up to 11!" Rob Reiner's classic mockumentary on the cliches, drama and excesses of the spandexed rock world spawned cult classics to rival those of any real-world axe band. From "Tonight I'm Gonna Rock You Tonight" and "(Listen to) The Flower People" to the ultimate cock-rock of "Big Bottom," we laughed -- and winced -- 'cause it was all so true.

10. Purple Rain - Prince
Albert Magnoli, 1984
An absolutely atrocious film redeemed by an incredible soundtrack. This thinly-veiled biopic is self-indulgent at best, but songs like "When Doves Cry," "Purple Rain" and "I Would Die 4 U," with Prince's masterful meshing of electronic, rock and R&B, distract manfully from the weak script and terrible acting -- not to mention that motorbike.


Your Views


Now it's your turn. What are your favorite -- and worst -- movie scores? Which ones have we missed? Post your comments and suggestions to the Screening Room blog and we'll publish the best.

Read other CNN viewers' favorite movie music -- and tell us yours >> E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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