Film Music Review
The Sammy awards









The Best Film Music Releases of 2010

(CDs, DVD and Book)


Selected by Roger Hall


Best Golden Age Soundtrack Releases

Best Silver Age Soundtrack Releases

Best Bronze Age Soundtrack Releases

Best Compilation Releases

Best Album Producers

Best Record Labels

Best DVD with commentary

Best New Film Music Book


Selected by Steven A. Kennedy


Best New Soundtrack CDs

Best Golden Age Soundtrack CDs

Best Silver and Bronze Age Soundtrack CDs

Best Compilation CDs

The 23rd Annual
Sammy Awards (or Sammys)
for Film Music CDs

will be announced on 13 February 2011

Some of the Sammy Awards will be chosen
from among the Best of the Year titles on this page.





When considering the merits of film music, a critic can only express his or her opinion based on what they hear. So this annual survey is naturally subjective.

Both Steve and I have been compiled these Best of the Year lists for many years now. I think our job as critics is to tell it like we hear it and judge them as fairly as possible.

Included in my list are Best CDs, Album Producers, Record Labels, and Best Film Music Book.

Unfortunately, I felt it was once again a very lean year for exceptional new soundtracks.

So instead, I devote my list to only re-recordings and reissues or restorations, and compilation CDs, all of them reviewed on Film Music Review during the past year.

These are the three time periods for the soundtracks list:

The Golden Age -- 1930s to 1950s

The Silver Age -- 1960s and 1970s

The Bronze Age -- 1980s and 1990s

Fortunately, there remains a steady flow of these great film scores from the past.

As a film music historian, I'm grateful for this attention paid to our film music heritage. We need to remember and celebrate these classic film scores from the past as much as restore classic films from the past.

Now, on to my list for ...


The Best of 2010

Selected by Roger Hall


To read the reviews, click on the links.

Best Golden Age Soundtrack Rleases of 2010

music by Bernard Herrmannn (Chandos CD)


Miklós Rózsa Treasury (1949-1968) (15 CD Box Set)


Best Silver Age Soundtrack Releases of 2010


THE ALAMO - Complete Score (Prometheus 3 CD Box Set)
music by Dimitri Tiomkin


music by John Williams (Film Score Monthly CD)


Complete Score and other film music
by Maurice Jarre (Tadlow, 2 CDs)


SPARTACUS - 6 CD/1 DVD Box Set with illustrated book


Bronze Age Soundtrack Releases of 2010

CONAN THE BARBARIAN - music by Basil Poledouris (Prometheus)



music by Jerry Goldsmith (Film Score Monthly CD)


PATTON - music by Jerry Goldsmith (Intrada 2 CD set)






Best Compilation Releases of 2010


Classic Film Scores - Six CDs
National Philhamonic Orchestra, Charles Gerhardt, conductor (RCA)


The Hollywood Flute of Louise DiTullio (Cambria)






Best Album Producers


Douglass Fake

James Fitzpatrick

Lukas Kendall

Robert Townson

Luc Van de Ven


Best Record Labels










Best DVD with commentary

though not released in 2010, this is recommended for its
brilliant score and fascinating commentary



(Blu-Ray Special Edition)

Music by Bernard Herrmann
Commentary by John Morgan, Steven Smith,
William Stromberg, and Nick Redman



Best New Film Music Book



The Hollywood Film Music Reader
by Mervyn Cooke



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The Best of 2010

Selected by Steven A. Kennedy



While there are still a few new film scores I have not had a chance to hear yet (INCEPTION, THE KINGS SPEECH, TRUE GRIT), I can’t see how they would increase enough enthusiasm from what has been an overall blah year for new scores. Is it wrong to include Varese’s “Deluxe Edition” from the recent STAR TREK film? It still seems a masterpiece next to many of the scores even released this year! 


Best New Soundtrack Releases of 2010


Elfman’s “Alice Theme” is one of the more memorable pieces from the new scores released this year. Morricone’s BAARIA might be more of the same Tornatore sound, but it is still wonderful. Desplat’s THE GHOST WRITER has been in my CD player often this year—maybe it is the Herrmann ethos of it that brings me back. HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON is one of John Powell’s best scores, period. I also enjoyed the downloadable only release of Christopher Gordon’s MAO’S LAST DANCER which will be overlooked mostly because no one will probably see this film. THE WOLFMAN is a great gothic horror score with some new directions for Elfman.

Listed in alphabetical order:


BAARIA (2009) – Ennio Morricone

THE GHOST WRITER – Alexander Desplat


STAR TREK (The Deluxe Edition) – Michael Giacchino


Honorable Mention:

MAO'S LAST DANCER – Christopher Gordon

THE WOLFMAN – Danny Elfman



Best Golden Age Releases of 2010

There were a couple of fine releases of Golden Age music in 2010 that stood out for me, but as you can see there were a plethora of scores now from the 1960s and later that perhaps reflect the shift of younger collectors but a lot of Golden Age music had appeared as the last century came to a close. I loved this new Herrmann disc from CHANDOS with its CITIZEN KANE presentation. Hollander’s delightful score for the Dr. Seuss musical receives a stellar production from Film Score Monthly.


The Film Music of Bernard Herrmann (HANGOVER SQUARE/ CITIZEN KANE) – Bernard Herrmann (Chandos)

THE 5,000 FINGERS OF DR. T– Frederick Hollander (Film Score Monthly)




Best Silver Age Soundtrack Releases of 2010


I’m not sure what happened, but fans of 1970s film music must be nearly broke. The highlight of the year was the massive, if overpriced, release of SPARTACUS. Williams’ fans got two great previously unreleased scores that make for great listening and allow us to wonder what would have happened had a little sci-fi film not launched the composer in a different direction. Small’s music is underrepresented on disc so having the fine MARATHON MAN, a theme I’ve played for years, available was a great surprise this year. Fielding fans, and film score fans in general, should give STRAW DOGS some of their ear time as well. Goldsmith’s THE BLUE MAX received its finest sounding presentation yet. And SPARTACUS not being enough of a gift to North fans, we also got a chance to hear DRAGONSLAYER in a fine new production from La-La Land. Giovanni’s THE WICKER MAN makes available this odd cult score which is worth tracking down as well.


BLACK SUNDAY – John Williams
(Film Score Monthly)

THE BLUE MAX – Jerry Goldsmith (Intrada)

(La-La Land)

FAMILY PLOT – John Williams ( Varese Sarabande Club)

Michael Small (Film Score Monthly)

SPARTACUS – Alex North ( Varese Sarabande, 6 CD/1 DVD Box Set)

STRAW DOGS – Jerry Fielding (Intrada)

THE WICKER MAN – Paul Giovanni (Silva)



Best Bronze Age Soundtrack CDs

There were a lot of releases of scores from this period as well in 2010 mostly from La-La Land records. Here were 5 of the best surprises of the year from a complete BATMAN, to the truly awesome STAR TREK V score (a great Goldsmith score for a bad film should not be a surprise perhaps) and a great score for one of my favorite Mamet films, THE EDGE. I’m not a fan of electronic scores, but hearing TERMINATOR 2 again really gave me a deeper appreciation for Fiedel’s music and it is an important work in the canon of film scoring of this period. Finally, THE GOONIES brought one of Grusin’s most requested scores to fans as well.

BATMAN – Danny Elfman ( La-La Land)

THE EDGE– Jerry Goldsmith ( La-La Land)

The GOONIES – Dave Grusin ( Varese Sarabande Club)

STAR TREK V—THE FINAL FRONTIER – Jerry Goldsmith ( La-La Land)





Best Compilation CDs

It would be easy to simply list all of the Gerhardt re-issues as best of the year (I would start with his Korngold discs and move on from there though). So, I want to highlight some others you might have missed when it comes to compilation releases. The first volume of Schifrin scores turned out to be really filled with familiar and interesting work from the composer in these original soundtracks. The other selections though are rerecordings of selections of music. The Gunning disc should simply be on your must have list with tons of great music from the composer of LA VIE EN ROSE and those AGATHA CHRISTIE’S POIROT mysteries. Louise DiTullio’s disc is simply gorgeous music making regardless of its content, which itself is rich and varied (and one of my most listened to CDs this year!). For something different, check out the Movie Brass CD from Naxos that features a number of familiar score selections in well-done arrangements. And the massive Silva compilation continues their traversal of film music in this eclectic but often well-performed collection recommendable to expand your musical awareness. The collection is also downloadable for those wanting to get just the selections that have not appeared before on other Silva releases.



The Cincinnati Kid: Lalo Shifrin Film Scores, Vo. 1 (1964-1968) – Lalo Schifrin (Film Score Monthly)

The Film and Television Music of Christopher Gunning – Christopher Gunning (Chandos)

The Hollywood Flute of Louise DiTullio – Various composers ( Cambria)

Movie Brass – Various composers ( Naxos)

100 Greatest Film Themes—Take 2 – Various composers (Silva)


Best Film Music CDs of the Decade (2000-2009)





Previous Best Film Music

12th Annual Survey for 2009

11th Annual Survey for 2008

10th Annual Survey for 2007

9th Annual Survey for 2006

8th Annual Survey for 2005




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