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2008 RANKING: 29  
AGE: Unavailable
BIRTHPLACE: Chicago, Illinois
REPRESENTATION: Soundtrack Music Associates
BACKGROUND: Rock musician
TYPECAST IN: Horror, Visual effects spectacles
1. 300--210 (U.S. gross in millions)
2. Watchmen--107 
3. The Day the Earth Stood Still--79 
4. Dawn of the Dead--58
5. Halloween--58
6. You Got Served--40
7. Halloween II--33   
8. Kingdom Come--23
9. The Devil's Rejects--16
10. Half Past Dead--15

The enormous box-office success of 300 in 2007 gave Bates much greater visibility in Hollywood, and despite Warner Bros,' public acknowledgement of the influence of Elliot Goldenthal's Titus score on Bates's work, he remained well regarded enough to earn him the challenging task of following in Bernard Herrmann's footsteps with the remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still. The film did respectable business, and Bates seemed undaunted by the spectre of his illustrious predecessor. Watchmen, director Zack Snyder’s followup to 300, was one of the most highly anticipated films of the year, but despite being a lavish, technically impressive and unusually faithful adaptation of Alan Moore's acclaimed graphic novel, it managed to earn only about half as much at U.S. boxoffices as 300 (while costing many times more). Bates's reasonably effective score was ultimately less musically dominant than the many period songs (can we please have a moratorium on the use of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" in movies? I don't think even "Happy Birthday" is used as often). Most recently, he scored Rob Zombie's continuation of his reworked Halloween, and moved the music farther from John Carpenter's original theme.

WHAT'S NEXT: The Way    


2008 RANKING: 14
AGE: 46
REP: Air Edel
Asif Kasada,  Joel Silver, Joe Wright
BACKGROUND: Theater and dance composer, concert composer, European cinema
TYPECAST IN: Arthouse fare
1. V for Vendetta--70
2. Atonement--50  
3. Pride and Prejudice--38
4. The Brothers Grimm--37
5. The Brave One--36
6. The Soloist--31  
7. Everybody's Fine--8 (as of 12/20/09)
8. The Return--7
9. I Capture the Castle--1

Last year, the inspirational true-life drama The Soloist seemed likely to continue Marianelli and director Joe Wright's success streak, following Pride & Prejudice and Atonement (whose scores earned the composer one Oscar and two nominations), but the film's release was moved at virtually the last minute to spring 2009, far out of Oscar season.  The released film, though not a box-office blockbuster, was much better than its delay would lead one to expect, with a particularly fine performance by Robert Downey, Jr. and a much more believable portrayal of mental illness than the gimmicky (but enormously successful) A Beautiful Mind. Marianelli's score was spotted with admirable restraint, but enough of it was based on classical themes that it will almost certainly be ineligible for an Original Score Oscar (and the Academy seems in no hurry to resurrect their Music Adaptation award). Marianelli is staying busy with a variety of international projects, such as the Julia Roberts comedy Eat, Pray, Love, and Alejandro Amenabar's historical epic Agora, which is the first Amenabar film that the director hasn't scored himself. Currently in theaters he has the American remake of Tornatore's Everybody's Fine (the end credits actually acknowledge Morricone's score as well as Tornatore's original screenplay and direction), providing a pleasingly low-key score for the awkward, sentimental drama.   

WHAT'S NEXT: Agora, Eat, Pray Love, Hippie Hippie Shake


2008 RANKING: 20
AGE: 52
BIRTHPLACE: Redbanks, New Jersey
REP: First Artists Management
BACKGROUND: UCLA Music Department (under David Raksin), low-budget features
Jon Amiel, Curtis Hanson, Mark Steven Johnson, Sam Raimi
FAN FAVORITE: Hellraiser
TYPECAST IN: Horror, thrillers
1. Spider-Man 3--336   
2. Ghost Rider--115
3. The Grudge--110
4. Entrapment--87
5. The Exorcism of Emily Rose--75
6. Swordfish--69
7. Species--60
8. The Hurricane--50
9. Runaway Jury--49
10. Drag Me to Hell--42 

While the superhero adventures Spider-Man 3 and Ghost Rider provided Young with his most commercially successful assignments, he has since made a concerted attempt to work in a wide variety of genres. Young has been most frequently typecast in suspense and horror, and he wrote a suitably evocative score for The Uninvited, the recent remake of the Korean horror film A Tale of Two Sisters, and though the end result was one of the better of the recent horror crop the box-office was low. While Young has excelled in horror scores, over the course of his career he has shown a taste for more obscure, art-house-style projects, and he's scored two of those in the last year and a half, the grim drama Sleepwalking and the Bret Easton Ellis adaptation The Insiders, and though the latter was one of the worst films of this year, he found a suitably hypnotic sound for the score. The romance Love Happens proved to be a boxoffice flop, though it provided a nice chance to hear Young work in a lighter vein, while his most satisfying recent score, as well as his highest grossing film since Spider-Man 3, was his full-bodied work for Sam Raimi's lively horror film Drag Me to Hell, which evoked his vibrant early scores like Hellraiser. He continues his current eclectic streak with two widely dissimilar projects, the Darwin biopic Creation (his fifth collaboration with director Jon Amiel), just in time for Oscar, and next year's fantasy-tinged romantic comedy When in Rome.

WHAT'S NEXT:  Creation, Unthinkable, When in Rome


2008 RANKING: 25
AGE: 53
BIRTHPLACE: Burbank, California
REP: Gorfaine/Schwartz
Howard Deutsch, Mark Dindal, Jon Favreau, Garry Marshall, Brian Robbins, Tom Shadyac, Walt Disney Pictures
BACKGROUND: Orchestrator, TV composer
FAN FAVORITE: Cutthroat Island
TYPECAST IN: Family fare
1. The Passion of the Christ--370
2. Bruce Almighty--242
3. Liar, Liar--181
4. Elf--173
5. Chicken Little--135
6. The Pacifier--113
7. Spy Kids--112
8. The Princess Diaries--108
9. Evan Almighty--100
10. Inspector Gadget—97

Debney has yet to find a project as commercially rewarding (or as artistically minded) as 2004's unlikely blockbuster The Passion of the Christ, but he's been remarkably prolific of late as a composer of the most family-friendly films imaginable. His biggest recent hit was Hannah Montana: The Movie, which received more musical attention for its plentiful songs (including one written by Alan Silvestri and Glen Ballard) than for its score, and his other recent projects ranged from the charming Hotel for Dogs to the not-terrible Aliens in the Attic to the just-plain-ghastly Old Dogs. His assignments for 2010 feature return engagements with two loyal collaborators -– the all-star romantic comedy Valentine’s Day, for director Garry Marshall, and, most promisingly, Jon Favreau's highly anticipated Iron-Man 2.
WHAT'S NEXT: Iron Man 2, Valentine's Day


2008 RANKING: 19
AGE: 45
BIRTHPLACE: San Diego, California
REP: Kraft-Engel
RELATIONSHIPS: Joel Silver, Bryan Singer
BACKGROUND: USC, film editor
FAN FAVORITE: The Usual Suspects
TYPECAST IN: Superheroes, horror
1. X2--214
2. Superman Returns--200
3. Fantastic Four--154
4. Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer--131
5. Valkyrie--82 
6. The Cable Guy--60
7. Gothika--59
8. Halloween H20--55
9. Hide and Seek--50
10. Orphan--41 

Despite his many boxoffice successes, Ottman has been a far from prolific composer in recent years, though in the last year he's had three new releases in widely different genres. His latest editing-scoring collaboration with director Bryan Singer, the true-life Nazi thriller Valkyrie, spent such a long time on the shelf that it was assumed the film would turn out to be an unreleasable disaster, but it proved to be a competent (if disappointing) thriller and did respectable business in the U.S. His two projects this year weren't as financially successful but gave him the opportunity to present two widely different musical interpretations of the lives of children, providing high-key adventure scoring for the animated Astro Boy, and an appropriately darker sound for the lively, trashy Orphan. He is currently expected to edit and score Singer's next project, a new version of Jack the Giant Killer , though the news that Singer has signed on to direct an X-Men prequel, X-Men: First Class, suggests that Ottman may be returning to his favorite director's most lucrative franchise.

WHAT'S NEXT: Jack the Giant Killer


2008 RANKING: Not ranked
AGE: 43
BIRTHPLACE: Madras, India
REP: Gorfaine/Schwartz
Slumdog Milllionaire
BACKGROUND: Child pianist, Trinity College of Music at Oxford, advertising jingle writer, Bollywood song/score composer, stage musical songwriter
TYPECAST IN: Bollywood musicals
1. Slumdog Millionaire--141  
2. Couples Retreat--107 (12/20/09)
3. Elizabeth: The Golden Age--16

A.R. Rahman has been a top composer/songwriter in Indian cinema for many years, but he first gained major notice in the U.S. with his lively song score for his country's 2001 Foreign Langauge Oscar nominee, the wonderful, epic musical Lagaan, one of the first Bollywood films to get any kind of significant release in the States. His first major English language film was a shared credit with Craig Armstrong on the lavish sequel Elizabeth: The Golden Age, but his true Hollywood breakthrough came with 2008's surprise smash Slumdog Millionaire. The film demonstrated his ability to craft an original score, earning him an Oscar in the process, as well as his knack for songwriting which earned him two of the three Original Song nominations for the year as well as the Song Oscar for the catchy end title song "Jai Ho." One might have assumed that Rahman would be instantly typecast by Hollywood in Indian-themed films, but his surprisingly conventional score for the hit comedy Couples Retreat showed how well he could fit into the mainstream.

WHAT'S NEXT: Endhiran, 1-800-LOVE, Raavana


2008 RANKING: 26
AGE: 51
BIRTHPLACE: Winnipeg, Canada
REP: First Artists Management
BEST PICTURE NOMINEES: Capote, Little Miss Sunshine
RELATIONSHIPS: Atom Egoyan, Terry Gilliam, Billy Ray
BACKGROUND: University of Toronto, Canadian cinema
FAN FAVORITE: Ride with the Devil
1. The Time Traveler's Wife--63  
2. Little Miss Sunshine--59 
3. Surf's Up--58
4. Lakeview Terrace--39 
5. Fracture--38
6. The Nativity Story--37
7. 8mm--36
8. Bounce--36
9. Breach--32
10. (500) Days of Summer--32 

Danna has focused lately on smaller-scale projects like the arthouse films that first gained him attention, including two new films from his principal director Atom Egoyan -- the already-released Adoration and the imminent erotic drama Chloe -- as well as the character study Trucker. He collaborated with orchestrator Rob Simonsen on the scores for two indie romantic comedies, the little seen Management (pairing Jennifer Aniston and Steve Zahn) and the widely acclaimed (500) Days of Summer, though their charming score for the latter was overshadowed by the copious songs. He ventured into more mainstream cinema with what proved to be his highest grossing film to date, the romantic fantasy The Time Traveler's Wife, where his musical discretion was most welcome in the soapy surroundings. He has collaborated with his brother Jeff on a suitably eclectic score for Terry Gilliam's imminent The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus, which features Heath Ledger in his final role.



2008 RANKING: 17
AGE: 55
BIRTHPLACE: Johannesburg, South Africa
REP: Kraft-Engel
BACKGROUND: Rock guitarist for the band Yes, Media Ventures
RELATIONSHIPS: Jerry Bruckheimer, Renny Harlin, Jon Turtletaub
FAN FAVORITE: Armageddon
TYPECAST IN: Action adventure
1. National Treasure: Book of Secrets--219
2. Armageddon--201
3. National Treasure--172
4. Get Smart--130 
5. Bad Boys II--138
6. G-Force--119  
7. Remember the Titans--115
8. Enemy of the State--111
9. Gone in 60 Seconds--101
10. Con Air--101

Rabin has found himself limited to the action genre of late, employing his particular mix of orchestral and synthesized elements, with varying degrees of box-office success. His biggest hits took the genre into a lighter vein, adapting Irving Szamarthy's classic TV theme for the feature film version of Get Smart, and transporting the Bruckeimer approach to family friendly cinema for the CGI-augmented G-Force. In a similar vein was Disney's high-octane reworking of their '70s Witch Mountain franchise, Race to Witch Mountain, and the end result was a moderate hit but failed to hold the promise of its impressive opening weekend. The derivative action thriller 12 Rounds was Rabin's third film for director Renny Harlin, but didn't offer the composer the sort of change-of-pace scoring opportunity he had with Harlin's Exorcist prequel. Next up he reunites with National Treasure helmer Jon Turtletaub for a live-action incarnation of The Sorcerer's Apprentice.

WHAT'S NEXT: The Sorcerer's Apprentice


2008 RANKING: Not ranked   
AGE: Unavailable
BIRTHPLACE: Unavailable
REP: Gorfaine/Schwartz
William Friedkin, Jonathan Liebesman, Justin Lin, Sylvester Stallone
BACKGROUNDGrandson of art director Walter Tyler, UCLA, Harvard, independent films 
TYPECAST IN: Action, horror, series where the previous composer has died, sequels with virtually the same name as their predeccessor
1. Fast & Furious--155
2. Eagle Eye--101 
3. Constantine--75
4. Law Abiding Citizen--72 (12/20/09)
5. The Final Destination--66  
6. The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift--62
7. Rambo--42 
8. Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem--41 
9. The Hunted--34 
10. Darkness Falls--32

Early last year, the Nicolas Cage vehicle Bangkok Dangerous seemed a likely breakthrough project for Tyler, but the film turned out to be a flop as well as one of the year's worst. However, in the year and a half since the last Top 40 Countdown, Tyler has gone from being a steadily employed composer of little-seen films to a man with major hits on his resume. The conspiracy thriller Eagle Eye was his first film to break the $100 million barrier, and this year's Fast & Furious, his fourth film for director Justin Lin, did even better. Dragonball Evolution was a flop and The Lazarus Project went straight to video, but he's managed to carve a strange niche for himself, taking over the musical duties on series whose original composer has passed on, by scoring the confusingly titled sequels Rambo and The Final Destination. Despite his more eclectic early work like the F. Scott & Zelda TV biopic Last Call, his recent hits haven’t let him stray from the action-thriller-horror genres, and his upcoming projects include an alien invasion thriller and a Stallone actionfest.  
WHAT'S NEXT: Battle Los Angeles, The Expendables, Red Dawn


2008 RANKING: 13
AGE: 43
BIRTHPLACE: Fornero, Italy
REP: Greenspan Artist Management
Wes Craven, Guillermo Del Toro, John Moore, Alex Proyas, Bob Weinstein, Len Wiseman
BACKGROUND: Yale School of Music, USC (under Jerry Goldsmith)
TYPECAST IN: Horror, action, sequels
1. Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines--150
2. I, Robot--144
3. Live Free or Die Hard--134
4. Scream--103
5. Scream 2--101
6. Scream 3--89
7. Blade 2--81
8. Knowing--79 
9. Underworld: Evolution--62
10. Hellboy--59

Since earning his first Oscar nomination for 3:10 to Yuma, Beltrami hasn't scored any of the action spectacles that fill the top slots of his highest grossers list, and he's continued to explore his experimental tendencies. Kathryn Bigelow's Iraq War drama The Hurt Locker is probably the most critically acclaimed project of Beltrami's career so far and a likely Oscar contender, though Beltrami's stark, largely unmelodic score, composed with frequent collaborator Buck Sanders, is probably too chilly to earn the Music Branch's attention. An intriguing project, Bertrand Tavernier's mystery In the Electric Mist, unfortunately went straight to video in the U.S., though Varese Sarabande was good enough to make the score available as part of their new limited/contemporary series.  Another collaboration with Sanders, the videogame adaptation Max Payne, did decent business despite being a terrible piece of hackwork (the film, not the score), while Beltrami's highest grossing recent effort was the sci-fi apocalypse Knowing, where the composer had a welcome chance to cut loose with his full orchestral might. Coming up are the long-delayed sci-fi film Repo Men (formerly Repossession Mambo) and a Guillermo Del Toro-produced remake of a beloved horror TV movie from the 1970s, as well as a potential fourth film in the Scream franchise.

WHAT'S NEXT: Don't Be Afraid of the Dark, Repo Men

Part One of this series can be accessed on the website, featuring the following composers:


31. Jon Brion
32. Alan Menken 
33. Elliot Goldenthal 
34. David Arnold 
35. Ramin Djawadi 
36. Craig Armstrong 
37. Patrick Doyle 
38. Rachel Portman 
39. Graeme Revell 
40. Randy Edelman


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Comments (4):Log in or register to post your own comments
I'm a little disturbed to see Brian Tyler make the list. I was a big fan of the "Bubba Ho-Tep" soundtrack when it came out ( So you could imagine my surprise when I heard the same musical motif used in "Paparazzi" ( and "Timeline" ( and "Children of Dune" ( (or and even "Eagle Eye" (though not in any of the clips he's put on his website.)

Just how many movie studios have paid him to re-write the same four chords? Don't get me wrong, they're good chords, but still... it's a bit ridiculous.

No composer ever went broke by writing the same score over and over again. (imagine Horner's "danger motif" as you read this)

I am glad to see Brian Tyler on that list. He is truly underated if you ask me. Have some of his scores sounded similar ? Sure they have, but there are not many artists who have not. I imagine if Brian Tyler were left to his own devices and given a large canvas to work on, the man would produce something truly great. I for one would have rather seen Brian Tyler get to do something like the remake of Clash Of The Titans instead of Craig Armstrong. Brian Tyler has talent but does not get the opportunity to unleash it. I enjoy both Timeline scores, but I like Brian Tylers better.

When a list item in a list contains a comma in itself, each list item is offset with a semi colon (Dario's NEXT films).

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