10 Best Films Scored by Alexandre Desplat

10 Best Films Scored by Alexandre Desplat

Music is an integral part of a film. Without it, a film would feel bare. Films would feel bizarre, empty and contextless. That is where talented composers like Alexandre Desplat come in. Desplat has worked in film for two decades. In that time, he’s worked on about 60 projects in total. He has won a number of awards both in the United States and abroad for his work in the industry. He has scored mass-market productions and small, independent fare alike. With such a wide variety of films, almost any fan can find something that speaks to them in the films he’s scored. Here are the ten best films he has given his musical identity to.

The Tree of Life (2011)

Terrence Malick’s Tree of Life is similar to any of his late-period work. It is dizzying and meditative. It is both extremely zoomed-in on one man as he grows up (Sean Penn) and zoomed out, looking at the universal nature of existence. It is certainly not a film for everyone but it is beloved by many.

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Moonrise Kingdom (2012)

Wes Anderson’s very twee young romance story Moonrise Kingdom is a fun summertime film. The dialogue is dry but snappy in the film, where two lonely adolescents (Kara Hayward and Jared Gilman) resolve to run away together. The result is mass chaos on the New England island where they live with hilarious characters with various motivations hot on their trail.

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Godzilla (2014)

Gareth Edwards — who went on to direct Rogue One: A Star Wars Story — was first given the keys to a mass-market picture with a Godzilla reboot. The film stars Bryan Cranston, Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen as an intergenerational family thrust into a conflict of titanic proportions with the eponymous monster and its cohorts.

Lust, Caution (2007)

Ang Lee’s espionage thriller Lust, Caution is one of his most underrated movies. It is rather long and features a rare NC-17 rating, but the film is gorgeously-directed Tang Wei plays a World War II-era spy who is sent to seduce and assassinate a member of the Japanese government controlling Chinese territory, played by Tony Leung. Things become complicated for the former when she begins to develop feelings for her mark.

The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)

Wes Anderson is probably best known for his particular style, but never has it been more on display than in The Grand Budapest Hotel. Anderson was inspired by the works of Austrian writer Stefan Zweig. The film tells the story of a hotel’s lobby boy (Tony Revolori) during the height of the hotel’s run. He trains under the hotel’s beloved concierge, M. Gustave (Ralph Fiennes) during a time of much intrigue surrounding the hotel and its occupants. The film also garnered Desplat his first Academy Award for Best Score.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)

David Fincher’s The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is easily his most whimsical film. While he is generally drawn to dark portrayals of crimes and otherwise shady dealings, this film is something more akin to a tragic romance. Brad Pitt plays the titular character, a man who ages backward. Cate Blanchett plays the woman with whom he falls in love when they reach the same age in the middle. It has staggering special effects and uses them strikingly in this engrossing story.

Birth (2004)

Birth is a somewhat forgotten but truly gripping Jonathan Glazer film. Glazer went on to direct the visceral, thrilling science fiction film Under the Skin starring Scarlett Johansson in 2013. In Birth, Nicole Kidman plays a widow who, a decade after her husband’s death, is nearing remarriage. Before her walk down the aisle, however, she is visited by a young boy who claims to be her husband reincarnated. It is a bizarre film — which would be unsurprising to anyone who has seen Under the Skin — but certainly one worth watching as well.

Julie & Julia (2009)

Nora Ephron’s final film before her passing Julie & Julia tells parallel stories. That of Julia Child (Meryl Streep) as she works her way through culinary school in Paris in the 1950s, and that of Julie Powell (Amy Adams) as she, in turn, works her way through Child’s book on French cooking over the course of a year in 2002. It is a true joy to see Ephron do what she does best one final time.

Argo (2012)

Ben Affleck directed and starred in Argo. The film portrays the Iran hostage crisis and the extraction of the survivors. Affleck plays Tony Mendez, an extractor for the U.S. government who uses the pretense of a fake Canadian science fiction film to help the American hostages escape Tehran. It is a compelling film from beginning to end.

The Shape of Water (2017)

Guillermo Del Toro won the Academy Award for Best Director for his effort in the science-fiction romance The Shape of Water. Not only that, Desplat took home his own Academy Award as well for the score he gave to the film. Sally Hawkins plays a mute custodian at a shady governmental facility at the height of the Cold War. She begins a relationship of sorts with a mysterious amphibious humanoid and looks to rescue him from his dank enclosure.

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