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The 5 Best Film Scores of 2021

Julian Vaca

Dec 17, 2021

Even though we’re technically living in a post-pandemic world, the Coronavirus had sweeping impacts on film releases in 2021. Many studios are still scrambling and shuffling (and reshuffling) their upcoming slate of films, with Warner Bros. and HBO Max going so far as to debut films on their streaming platform the same day they hit cinemas.

All this to say, it’s been a strange year at the movies. 

In spite of this, 2021 hasn’t been all that bad as far as movie releases go. In fact, we got a Ghostbusters reboot and the long-awaited Dune adaptation only weeks apart. We got Daniel Craig’s thrilling Bond conclusion, a couple of Ridley Scott flicks, and another bold feature from the always-delightful Wes Anderson.


But one thing we shouldn’t overlook is the amount of remarkable film scores that debuted this year, reinforcing their onscreen counterparts in masterful ways. After some research, I found it almost impossible to cut the list down to only five — I still had to squeeze in an honorable mention.

There were just so many wonderful outings from ingenious composers in 2021. And without further ado, here are the top five film scores of 2021.

Honorable mention: "I Care A Lot" original music by Marc Canham


I Care A Lot


I can’t not mention Marc Canham’s brilliant, stylish film score for the wildly underrated I Care A Lot. There simply aren’t enough people talking about this darkly delightful film which boasts excellent performances from Rosamund Pike, Peter Dinklage, and Dianne Wiest. 

Canham’s hypnotic, kinetic score has shades of Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross — the duo behind many of David Fincher’s recent films and Pixar’s Soul — and it’s really, really good. 

At once atmospheric and engrossing, Canham is master of the craft.

Stream the score here.

5. "Pig" original music by Alexis Graspas and Philip Klein




Our number five spot goes to composers Alexis Graspas and Philip Klein, whose excellent work in the Nicholas Cage-led Pig is about as surprisingly poignant and understated as the film is. 

There are elements of folk music, ambient tones, and stellar musicianship. Top to bottom, this score is terrific and should earn the composers an Oscar nod. The track “Things to Really Care About” encapsulates the atmosphere of the entire score and is worth multiple listens.

Stream the score here

4. "Misha and the Wolves" original music by Nick Foster


Misha and the Wolves


I’m so pleased to be able to include a feature documentary on this list, because original film scores for docs don’t typically get the awards love many of them so rightfully deserve. With Misha and the Wolves, it was a no-brainer. 

Composer Nick Foster has crafted something truly memorable. The epic soundtrack is Spielbergian: grand, sweeping, and full of breadth. Foster deftly tackles the harrowing subject matter in the documentary with an equally harrowing score. “The Trial” (track 11 on the soundtrack) will show you exactly what I mean. 

This score gets an A+ and I cannot wait to hear Foster’s work in future films.

Stream the score here.

3. "Dune" original music by Hans Zimmer




We can’t compile a list of the year’s greatest film scores without including an outing from the GOAT. (Seriously, has Hans Zimmer ever crafted a subpar score?) 

With Dune, audiences will find Zimmer at the top of his game. Zimmer blends a kind of world music aesthetic with moments of sheer intensity. (I seriously don’t know how the man continues to outdo himself, but here we are again, year after year.) 

Zimmer, who previously worked with director Denis Villeneuve on the contemporary masterpiece Blade Runner: 2049, has found a great collaborator in the French-Canadian filmmaker. Dune’s score is a master class in big, Hollywood-sized movie scoring.

Stream the score here

2. "Fried Barry" original music by Haezer


Fried Barry


Chances are you haven’t heard of the very weird, pseudo sci-fi/horror flick Fried Barry. It’s a film about a drug-addled abuser who is abducted by aliens. 

You read that right. From IMDb: “Barry takes a backseat as an alien visitor assumes control of his body and takes it for a joyride through Cape Town.” 

Putting that unbelievable premise aside, the composer Haezer’s atmospheric, synth-heavy score elevates this indie with dizzying results. If you’re not able to stream the movie, definitely stream the score. It’s inventive, inspiring, and — tonally — pitch perfect.

Stream the score here.

1. "Nine Days" original music by Antonio Pinto


Nine Days


Nine Days is the little indie that could — a festival darling that won over audiences and critics alike earlier this year when it debuted at Sundance. And its singular, compelling, awe-inspiring score from composer Antonio Pinto is the number one pick on this list. 

What’s so striking about this score is its classic, simplistic sound. It feels like something out of old Hollywood while also being inventive, familiar, and unique. With chill-inducing strings and melodic piano undertones, Pinto’s score is irresistible and moving…a flawless work of art. 

If nothing else, listen to the first track, “10327 Days of Life.”

Stream the score here

Music that fits movies like a glove

Of the six films listed above, there’s an undeniable throughline: Each film score compliments its movie without being distracting, overbearing, or bombastic. 

A good, well-executed score must elevate its movie; it should help to create a visceral reaction in a way only movies and music can. It’s why cinema — the pairing of two mediums — remains the most immersive form of art.

At Soundstripe, we believe this whole-heartedly. It’s why our high quality music (from chill songs to hip hop beats to jazz tracks) is created with the utmost care and attention to detail in the heart of Music City, USA. And it’s why we offer stem audio files on every single track in our catalogue. Filmmakers like you deserve access to affordable, world class music.

More than that — your films deserve it.