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Revisited: The Synchrotones Soundtrack Awards 2015-2018

November 2, 2019

Awards season is nearly upon us, and even here at Synchrotones I’ve been guilty of publishing my ‘favourites’ or ‘best of the year’ lists. However, opinions can change over time; and I find that some of my favourite scores are no longer my favourites.

Sometimes it’s quite surprising which scores end up having the longer shelf-life, or in other words… which ones I still frequently play after all this time. So I decided to revisit my Top 10s from 2015 onwards and re-rank them as to how I feel about those scores today.


Today 2018 TITLE (Composer)
1 8 ˄ Mary Shelley (Amelia Warner)
2 3 ˄ Watership Down (Federico Jusid)
3 2 ˅ Solo (John Powell)
4 21 ˄ The Good Karma Hospital (Ben Foster)
5 1 ˅ Black Panther (Ludwig Göransson
6 7 ˄ Early Man (Harry Gregson-Williams And Tom Howe)
7 11 ˄ Tides Of Fate (Pinar Toprak)
8 6 ˅ Wild (Mathijs Kieboom)
9 9 = Max And Me (Mark Mckenzie)
10 20 ˄ Mortal Engines (Tom Holkenborg)

Last year’s Top 10 was incredibly strong and, really, there wasn’t much to separate them all. So an 8th spot wasn’t all that bad. Yet, over time Amelia Warner’s MARY SHELLEY has continued to grow on me. It was always ‘my kind style’, but over the months that followed the awards, the score continued to get under my skin. It accompanied me on many walks across the Peak District moors, where this music really feels at home. I still frequently revisit this score, admiring its beauty, its melancholy and its magic.

WATERSHIP DOWN by Federico Jusid went up a bit as I started to appreciate more of the underscore rather than just the highligh cues; at the expense at the still brilliant SOLO by John Powell. The biggest leap is made by Ben Foster’s GOOD KARMA HOSPITAL which I at first ranked in the 20s thinking it was ‘just’ a pleasant little score. Over the following months I continued to give it more play-time and the melodies, orchestrations and the consistent quality throughout its lengthy run-time have come to really impress me. Tom Holkenborg’s MORTAL ENGINES made a big leap too, as I have to admit that this ‘guilty pleasure’ keeps finding its way on to my playlist. The London Suite is quite a spectacular piece really, and the rest of the score benefits from several strong, recurring themes, making this Holkenborg’s best and most ‘story-telling’ work to date.

MARY POPPINS by Marc Shaiman, THE PREDATOR by Henry Jackman and READY PLAYER ONE by Alan SIlvestri have just fallen outside of the Top 10, despite all having some excellent cues.


Today 2017 TITLE (Composer)
1 1 = Thor: Ragnarok  (Mark Mothersbaugh)
2 2 = Viceroy’s House  (A.R. Rahman)
3 4 ˄ Ferdinand  (John Powell)
4 n/r Divide  (Chris Tilton)
5 3 ˅ Captain Underpants  (Theodore Shapiro)
6 8 ˄ Their Finest  (Rachel Portman)
7 10 ˄ Blue Planet II  (Zimmer/Shea/Flemming)
8 5 ˅ Bitter Harvest  (Benjamin Wallfisch)
9 n/r Broadchurch [Season 3]  (Ólafur Arnalds)
10 6 ˅ Tommy’s Honour  (Christian Henson)

Not a great deal of changes here, though a few subtle corrections. Over time my appreciation for (and enjoyment of) FERDINAND by John Powell, BLUE PLANET II by Bleeding Fingers and THEIR FINEST by Rachel Portman has gone up. I only ranked a Top 10 that year, with Chris Tilton’s DIVIDE falling just outside it. However, it is a cracking little score with great orchestral and electronic writing; and it’s one that I still regularly revisit. Olafur Arnalds’ work for BROADCHURCH S3 also moves into the Top 10 after being not ranked. THOR RAGNAROK is still a bonkers-brilliant score by Mothersbaugh, with the incredibly beautiful VICEROY’S HOUSE by Rahman not far behind. However, DOWNSIZING by Rolfe Kent, as well as MULLY by Benjamin Wallfisch have just fallen outside of the Top 10.


Today 2016 TITLE (Composer)
1 2 ˄ The Magnificent Seven (James Horner/Simon Franglen)
2 n/r ˄ La La Land (Justin Hurwitz)
3 3 ˄ Planet Earth II (Hans Zimmer, Jacob Shea, Jasha Klebe)
4 4 ˄ Zipi Y Zape Y La Isla Del Capitan (Fernando Velazquez)
5 1 ˅ Pete’s Dragon (Daniel Hart)
6 5 = We’re Going On A Bear Hunt (Stuart Hancock)
7 6 = Eddie The Eagle (Matthew Margeson)
8 7 = Nerve (Rob Simonsen)
9 8 = Brothers Of The Wind (Sarah Class)
10 9 = Ozzy (Fernando Velazquez)

Again, very few changes here. PETE’S DRAGON by Daniel Hart is knocked off the top spot, making way for James Horner’s last hurrah THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN. I believe Simon Franglen and the team have done a magnificent(!) job in taking Horner’s ideas and turning into a rousing and at times emotional score. However, the most dramatic change here is the inclusion of LA LA LAND by Justin Hurwitz, which I really didn’t rate at the time (in more ways than one). It’s only over the last few months that my appreciation, and indeed love, for this score has grown. Now I think it’s a terrific score with some fantastic songs, great continuity and cohesion. An all-round fabulous work.


Today 2015 TITLE (Composer)
1 1 = Wolf Totem (James Horner)
2 16 ˄ The Hunt (Steven Price)
3 12 ˄ Peter and Wendy (Maurizio Malagnini)
4 3 ˅ Pirate’s Passage (Andrew Lockington)
5 6 ˄ The 33 (James Horner)
6 9 ˅ Zhong Kui: Snow Girl and the Dark Crystal (Javier Navarette)
7 21 ˄ Broadchurch (Olafur Arnalds)
8 17 ˄ The Great Human Odyssey (Darren Fung)
9 7 ˅ Ori and the Blind Forest (Gareth Coker)
10 10 ˄ Steve Jobs (Daniel Pemberton)

Whilst James Horner’s WOLF TOTEM remains my favourite score of that year, the rest of the list sees a number of big changes. Steven Price’s score for THE HUNT is an exquisite work with great themes and orchestrations, and also with an impressive constant level of quality throughout its long run-time. PETER AND WENDY by Maurizio Malagnini is one of the loveliest scores I know and rightfully deserves a much higher spot on the list; as does Olafur Arnalds’ BROADCHURCH. I actually struggle to understand why I originally ranked it so low. Initial favourites like PAPER PLANES by Nigel Westlake, CARLOS REY EMPERADOR by Federico Jusid, IN THE HEART OF THE SEA by Roque Banos and SICARIO by Johann Johansson have dropped out of the Top 10.

What will 2019’s list look like? Who knows! I mean… I should know, but I don’t. There have been a few outstanding scores, but I think I might struggle to get past a Top 10. We’ll see. Stay tuned!

Article by Pete Simons (c) 2019 Synchrotones

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