The best movie soundtracks of 2016

Classic FM's resident movie buff Andrew Collins chooses some of the outstanding film scores of the year.

Eddie Redmayne in The Danish Girl

This year has been a garden of earthly delights when it comes to film soundtracks. Bear in mind, I'm not talking about the best films of the year, rather the best scores (of course, the two aren't mutually exclusive).

Here are some I'd say you really should listen out for:


Any collaboration between Steven Spielberg and John Williams is bound to make me sit up with alacrity, and the maestro did not disappoint with his score to this Roald Dahl adaptation. The music works its magic even if you haven’t seen the film.

The Magnificent Seven

Elmer Bernstein's iconic western theme would always be a hard act to follow but, for his final soundtrack, James Horner – and the score's completer/collaborator Simon Franglen – avoided the obvious, while paying humble tribute to their predecessor.

Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice

With a musical collaboration between A-lister Hans Zimmer and Dutch composer/producer Tom Holkenborg, better known as Junkie XL, this is a film I highly recommend you listen to. One for the 'Good music, shame about the movie' club.

The Jungle Book

Bursting with majesty and wonder, a fine score from John Debney. The most harmonious collaboration yet from Debney and director Jon Favreau.

Hear Andrew's verdict:

Swallows and Amazons

British composer Ilan Eshkeri, best known for Still Alice, Shaun the Sheep Movie and The Young Victoria, created a fresh, lyrical and at times tender score in the best tradition of British film, at times reminiscent of Shakespeare in Love or Finding Neverland . Even if you haven't seen the film, you can vividly visualise the boats cutting through the water to some of these sweeping tracks.

Ice Age Collision Course

For this the fifth instalment in the animated franchise, John Debney proved yet again that he knows how to give what used to be called cartoons an epic grandeur.

The Danish Girl

A fine score from Alexandre Desplat. It suits a story that touches on love and pain.


Howard Shore's understated but tense soundtrack didn't clinch Best Score anywhere but it's a worthy contender for one of our favourites of 2016 so far. Beautiful and intelligent music throughout.

Hear Andrew's verdict:

The Revenant

This soundtrack was deemed ineligible for an Oscar because it was 'assembled from the music of more than one composer.' A very strange decision. Ryuichi Sakamoto's contribution really speaks of the wide open spaces of South Dakota and the snowy temperatures.

Hear Andrew's verdict:

The Hateful Eight

Winner of this year's Academy Award for Music, veteran Italian composer Ennio Morricone became the oldest ever recipient at 87 of an Oscar for his gorgeously mysterious score.

Hear Andrew's verdict:

Finding Dory

Having had fun recently scoring Skyfall and Spectre, Thomas Newman injected this sequel to Finding Nemo with a certain Bond-esque flavour.


The film seems to have divided people – but there were no such qualms over Theodore Shapiro’s action packed score.

Suicide Squad

The Oscar-winning British composer Stephen 'Gravity' Price, ramped up the action for a film that did well at the box office despite so-so reviews.

Kung Fu Panda 3

Hans Zimmer has form in the world of animation and this really is a delightful score.

Hear Andrew's verdict:


Charlie Kaufmann's animated social drama is awkward, disturbing and deeply sad. One of my favourite current composers, Carter Burwell, provided the mournful, captivating score.

Hail Caesar

The Coen Brothers' film is an affectionate tribute to Hollywood in the 1950s and the score is no less affectionate. This is right up there with their regulator collaborator Carter Burwell's best work

Hear Andrew's verdict:

High Rise

Clint Mansell's amazing score is a thing of variety and wonder. He's a world class composer and this is among his most subtle work.

Hear Andrew's verdict:

Star Trek Beyond

Michael Giacchino’s return to the Star Trek universe conjures up all the essential ingredients – the vastness of space, militaristic action, and a sense of celestial wonder.

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