Best soundtracks by year

Here’s an updated version of this list, including soundtracks I discovered in 2016. The big winner for 2016 so far is Michael Giacchino for Star Trek Beyond (who also composed the previous year’s Tomorrowland).

My list doesn’t go this far back, but I also discovered John Barry’s theme for Zulu (1964) — it’s astonishing.

These are soundtracks I think are worth listening to on their own, as opposed to within the context of the movie.

Year Winner Runner Ups Honourable Mentions
2016 Star Trek Beyond Captain America: Civil War Captain Fantastic
    Zootopia X-Men: Apocalypse
2015 Tomorrowland The Good Dinosaur Ant-Man
    Inside Out Avengers: Age of Ultron
    Jurassic World Mr. Holmes
    Mad Max: Fury Road Pitch Perfect 2
    The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel Spectre
    Star Wars: The Force Awakens  
2014 How to Train Your Dragon 2 Dawn of the Planet of the Apes Interstellar
    Edge of Tomorrow Maleficent
    Guardians of the Galaxy The Penguins of Madagascar
    The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies X-Men: Days of Future Past
2013 Saving Mr. Banks Despicable Me 2 The Croods
    Man of Steel Frozen
    Star Trek Into Darkness Snowpiercer
      Thor: The Dark World
2012 The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey The Avengers Cloud Atlas
    The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel Moonrise Kingdom
    Brave Pitch Perfect
    Prometheus Sherlock — Series 1
    Skyfall Snow White and the Huntsman
2011 The Way Back Captain America Hugo
    Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol The King’s Speech
    One Day Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows
    X-Men: First Class Thor
2010 How to Train Your Dragon Alice in Wonderland Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1
    Inception Iron Man 2
    Lost — The Final Season RED
    Robin Hood Salt
    Toy Story 3 True Grit
2009 Star Trek Avatar An Education
  Up Coraline The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
    Lost — Season 4 Moon
    Sherlock Holmes Where the Wild Things Are
2008 WALL-E Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Score Changeling
    The Dark Knight Hancock
    Lost — Season 3 Quantum of Solace
    Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa The X-Files: I Want to Believe
2007 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Atonement The Bourne Ultimatum
    Enchanted Juno
    Stardust Ocean’s Thirteen
2006 Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest The Illusionist Casino Royale
    The Incredibles Lady in the Water
    The Lake House Wah-Wah
    Lost — Season 2 X-Men: The Last Stand
2005 Inside Man Batman Begins Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
    Firefly Memoirs of a Geisha
    Madagascar Mr. & Mrs. Smith
    Serenity Never Let Me Go
    Water Pride & Prejudice
2004 A Very Long Engagement Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind The Bourne Supremacy
    Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events National Treasure
    The Village Ocean’s Twelve
      The Terminal
2003 The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King Finding Nemo The Last Samurai
    The Italian Job Matchstick Men
    Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl School of Rock
    The Triplets of Belleville X-Men 2
2002 The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Once More, With Feeling The Bourne Identity
    Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone Catch Me If You Can
    Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones Spider-Man
      Star Trek: Nemesis
2001 The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring Amelie Donnie Darko
    Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon Legally Blonde
    Monsoon Wedding Moulin Rouge!
    Monsters, Inc. Ocean’s Eleven
    Shrek Planet of the Apes
2000 O Brother, Where Art Thou? Requiem for a Dream Cast Away
1999 Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace Chicken Run American Beauty
    Star Trek: Insurrection Instinct
    Toy Story 2 The Matrix
      The World is Not Enough
1998 Dark City Antz Circle of Friends
    A Bug’s Life Crusoe
    Life is Beautiful Highlander
    Pleasantville The Mask of Zorro
    The Truman Show Shakespeare in Love
      The X-Files
1997 The Sweet Hereafter The Fifth Element Alien Resurrection
    The Lost World: Jurassic Park Air Force One
    Men in Black Contact
    Titanic Tomorrow Never Dies
      The Winter Guest
1996 Star Trek: First Contact The Rock Mission: Impossible
1995 Apollo 13 GoldenEye Babe
    Toy Story Batman Forever
      Mr. Holland’s Opus
1994 Star Trek Generations Don Juan DeMarco Black Beauty
    Forrest Gump It Could Happen to You
    Maverick Legends of the Fall
    Stargate The Shawshank Redemption
1993 Jurassic Park The Nightmare Before Christmas Benny & Joon
    Sommersby Dave
      Groundhog Day
1992 Medicine Man Batman Returns Alien3
    Strictly Ballroom Scent of a Woman
1991 Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country Backdraft Awakenings
    Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey
1990 Dances With Wolves Back to the Future Part III Dick Tracy
    Edward Scissorhands Gremlins 2
    Quigley Down Under The Russia House
1989 Batman Back to the Future Part II The Abyss
  Star Trek V: The Final Frontier Field of Dreams Dead Poets Society
    Henry V Driving Miss Daisy
    The Mission Licence to Kill
1988 Willow Beetlejuice Hot to Trot
    Powaqqatsi Scrooged
      Working Girl
1987 The Living Daylights Crocodile Dundee The Untouchables
    La Bamba  
1986 Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home Aliens The Delta Force
1985 Brazil Back to the Future A Chorus Line
    Pee Wee’s Big Adventure Cocoon
    A View to a Kill The Goonies
    Witness Out of Africa
1984 Star Trek III: The Search for Spock Ghostbusters Gremlins
1983 Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi Octopussy  
1982 Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan Blade Runner  
1981 Raiders of the Lost Ark For Your Eyes Only  
1980 Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back    
1979 Star Trek: The Motion Picture Alien 1941
    The Great Train Robbery Moonraker
1978 Superman: The Movie    
1977 Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope The Spy Who Loved Me Saturday Night Fever

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