My Ten Favorite Instrumental Movie Tracks from the Last Ten Years

4. Howard Shore – The Bridge of Khazad Dum (Lord of the Rings)


There are a lot of Lord of the Rings tracks that could be on this list, but this is my favorite. Perhaps this is cheating because there’s technically singing, but whatever, I’m counting it. It’s recently seen a spike in popularity because of its use in the new Man of Steel trailer.

3. Charles Yaman – The Cloud Atlas Sextet (Cloud Atlas)


I only recently watched this film a few weeks ago, but I’m confident enough in my love for this song to say that it deserves a place this high on the list. When your entire three hour film revolves around a singular song, it had better be a damn good one. And it is.

2. Hans Zimmer – Time (Inception)


Hans Zimmer is more or less our new John Williams (note no Williams tracks on this list), and his work with Christopher Nolan has produced some incredible tracks. There’s just such a powerful emotion attached to “Time” that I can listen to it for hours on repeat without growing tired of it, and I’ve done so many times. A truly incredible track.

1. John Murphy – The Surface of the Sun (Sunshine)


Not to go all hipster here, but I was in love with this track years before every single movie started using it in their own trailers and soundtrack. Sunshine is already a beautiful film, and it’s only fitting they found a perfect soundtrack to match. It’s one of the most epic pieces of music I’ve ever heard, and will outlive any film that appropriates it for their own. Listen to it right now if you don’t believe me.


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  1. Wah, expect ‘Nursery’ from Moon to always make me bawl. From your list, we definitely share the same taste when it comes to ‘Time’ and John Murphy’s ‘Adagio in D Minor.’

    Here’s a couple of my favorites! Some are way past 10 years ago, but I’ll share it anyway.

    CLU from TRON LEGACY (Daft Punk)

    I like how this track matches the tense progression of the scene. I think this is an excellent piece for an epic confrontation scene that ensues in a battle.

    In Time Main Theme by Craig Armstrong

    Although the movie could have been better, I still enjoyed it as a sucker for dystopian science fiction. Armstrong’s theme was well-done and suitable for the film. The track might be short, but the impact is there.

    Panoramic from Book of Eli (Atticus Ross)

    I once mentioned in a review for Paul’s book- The Last Exodus that this was the track I listed to while reading his book. Why? When I first heard the track in Book of Eli, it stood out. It evoked a strange feeling of both emptiness and hope. Thus, whenever I think of a post-apocalyptic world… I hear the Panoramic track.

    The Departure from Gattaca (Michael Nyman)

    Actually, it’s unfair for me to just mention one track from this album since I thoroughly enjoyed every song. I honestly felt like I was Jerome while watching the film mostly because the music swayed you along the journey as well. For the sake of picking one, The Departure is the track that tugs my heartstrings the most.

    Hand Covers Bruise from Social Network (Trent Raznor and Atticus Ross)

    Yes, Ross again but this time with Trent Raznor. There’s simply so much to say about this track despite its simplistic composition. It evokes a sense of calm. Sort of like a calm before the storm to appropriately describe it.

    Gotham’s Reckoning from The Dark Knight Rises (Hans Zimmer)

    Like Gattaca, I think I pretty much enjoyed the whole album. However, I love Gotham’s Reckoning the best especially the part in the beginning that resembles ‘flight of the bumble bees.’ The whole Deshi Basara chant helps too! haha

    Good Will Hunting Main Title by Danny Elfman

    HOW DO YOU LIKE THEM APPLES??? Hahaha. This is my number one track I listen to when I need some confidence to pick me up from a rough spot.

    Man, I feel like I wrote a post of my own hahaha.

  2. Bridge of Khazad Dum is only cheating because it was, um, more than ten years ago ;). The best track from that movie is “Bag End,” anyway. That said, I can get with several of these, and there’s definitely a common quality most of them have.

    There’s not a chance in hell I could make a definitive list, but ten that soon spring to mind (assuming we’re allowing choirs, because like, all of these have choirs) are:

    A Window to the Past — Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
    Test Drive (or Forbidden Friendship) — How to Train Your Dragon
    160 BPM — Angels & Demons
    Anakin’s Betrayal – Revenge of the Sith
    Prologue — Lady in the Water
    The Last Man – The Fountain
    Woad to Ruin – King Arthur
    Reboot – Speed Racer
    Main Title – Corpse Bride
    Welcome to Lunar Industries – Moon

  3. Surprised Tron isn’t higher, and that the Social Network didn’t make the list. Those were definitely the first two that came to mind for me when I saw this article.

  4. Zimmer’s Batman song didn’t really hit me until The Dark Knight Rises last summer.

    Before that I always hated that Batman didn’t have as catchy a theme as the one Elfman gave the Burton movies.

    But the scene when Batman finally returned on the bike after the Wall Street heist…that was the moment when I realized just how awesome that tune is; how well it stays with you, and how perfect it is for that interpretation of the character.

  5. I was expecting In Time to blow me away like Inception that’s all. I really did enjoy it though… probably one of my favorites. I love Niccol’s films (Gattaca, S1MONE, Truman Show)! It’s like the same vein as Nolan’s brilliance.

    Niccol has this new movie coming out called “The Host.” The fact that it is a film adaptation of a Stephanie Meyer (Twilight series) novel worries me. Hopefully, he can take the cheese out of it!

  6. Clint Mansell’s score for Mass Effect 3 (I know the list is for movies but i Clint Mansell is in the list a couple times and it reminded me). Especially “Leaving Earth”.

  7. “Kaneda, what do you see? Kaneda!”

    I personally will never get bored of listening Storm Shelter from the Take Shelter soundtrack ( ), the escalation makes the last two minutes so powerful.

    Glad to see The Fountain in your list too, the movie has a wonderful soundrack.

  8. Here are several off the top of my head that I feel also deserve some mention up in this:

    “Like a Dog Chasing Cars” from The Dark Knight:

    “Death is the Road to Awe” from The Fountain:

    “Magneto” from X-Men: First Class:

    “Battle Without Honor or Humanity” from Kill Bill, Vol. 1:

    “Rescue Mission” from Watchmen:

    “Tick of the Clock” from Drive:

    “The End?” from Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows:

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