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Top 10 Movie Scores That Will Make You Cry

VO: Phoebe de Jeu WRITTEN BY: Nathan Sharp

Keep some tissues handy when you listen to these soundtracks. From Brokeback Mountain, to Braveheart, to Lord of the Rings, these films have music that'll move you to tears. WatchMojo ranks the top movie scores that will make you cry.

Check out the voting page for this list and add your picks: https://www.WatchMojo.comsuggest/Top%2010%20Movie%20Scores%20That%20Will%20Make%20You%20Cry Special thanks to our user Godslayer79 fir suggesting this idea!

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Sometimes all it takes is some beautiful music to turn on the waterworks. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top ten movie scores that will make you cry.


For this list, we’ll be looking at film scores that might just reduce the viewer to tears with their beauty. We’ll be ranking our picks based on a combination of the quality of the music itself and on how successful it is at heightening the dramatic impact of a specific scene.


#10: “Interstellar” (2014)



Christopher Nolan and Hans Zimmer make a fantastic team. Their work on “Inception” was beautiful, but we believe they gave us one of the best scores in recent memory with “Interstellar.” “Interstellar” is one of the most imaginative movies of the 2010s, and its music perfectly captures the film’s scope and gamut of emotions. It can make you feel tranquil, it can heighten the drama, and it can make you feel awe, excitement, and danger in equal measure. Regardless of whatever you’re being made to feel at any particular moment in the film, the music always serves to amplify those emotions - often pushing you over the edge to shed a tear.


#9: “Brokeback Mountain” (2005)



“Brokeback Mountain” tackled some challenging subject matter (particularly for its time), and it needed a suitably nuanced score to elevate the dramatic material at hand. Luckily, Gustavo Santaolalla was up to the task. Santaolalla won an Oscar for his work on the movie, and it’s not hard to see why. The music’s often sparse guitar suitably evokes the desolate Western landscape and the lonely feelings of the characters. And, unlike most dramatic scores, it never intrudes upon the drama or talent on screen, even when building to a climax. It’s an auditory aid, serving to help understand the characters, their feelings, and their motivations, and it will certainly bring a tear to your eye.


#8: “Titanic” (1997)



Scoring a James Cameron film is no easy feat. A composer not only needs to capture the epic scope of his imagination and technical prowess, but they need to fill his quieter, more character-driven moments as well. James Horner composed “Titanic” and created one of the most instantly recognizable scores in recent memory. While Horner was able score the movie’s epic scenes with apparent ease, it’s in the calmer, more emotional moments where he really shines. He can often make you cry with a single note from a flute, and the instrumentation of Celine Dion’s My Heart Will Go On remains one of the most recognizable and saddest pieces of music in film history.


#7: “Braveheart” (1995)


“Braveheart” is another stellar score from James Horner, and while perhaps not as instantly recognizable, it is arguably more grand and emotional. The soundtrack is chock full of gorgeous and romantic pieces of music, including A Gift of a Thistle, The Secret Wedding, and the gorgeously epic For the Love of a Princess. Each piece wonderfully blends its Scottish influences with Hollywood drama and sentiment. Its main title theme is also a Hollywood classic and is guaranteed to make your hairs stand. James Horner was a brilliant composer, and his score for “Braveheart” is an undeniable masterpiece.


#6: “Once Upon a Time in the West” (1968)



Ennio Morricone is one of the most acclaimed composers in cinema history, and his scores for Sergio Leone’s classic spaghetti Westerns are all-time classics. However, we believe their greatest collaborative work to be “Once Upon a Time in the West.” The movie is more mature than Leone’s previous spaghetti Westerns, and the score accurately reflects that change in tone. While the more dramatic pieces like Man with a Harmonica give Ecstasy of Gold and The Trio a run for their money, pieces like Jill’s America and Finale beautifully capture the sweeping romanticism of the Wild West. The combination of beautiful music and epic visuals is sure to bring a tear to anyone’s eye.


#5: “The Lord of the Rings” franchise (2001-03)



Translating Tolkien’s literary masterpiece to film was no easy task, but Peter Jackson somehow managed to pull it off. One of the major contributing factors to its success is undoubtedly Howard Shore’s brilliant pieces of music. While the epic pieces are obviously fantastic, what makes the score really shine is how it complements the imaginative and wondrous visuals on screen. Pieces like The Great River invoke a sense of majesty, while others, like ending of Khazad-dûm painfully amplify the tragic moments playing out on screen. The soundtracks to these trilogies are undoubtedly some of the greatest of all time, and they ensure that we have tears in our eyes from one film to the next.


#4: “Forrest Gump” (1994)



By 1994, composer Alan Silvestri was known primarily for his work on action movies, including “Back to the Future” and “Predator.” However, he finally earned the prestige he deserved when he was nominated for an Academy Award for his brilliant work on “Forrest Gump.” Many of its pieces, like I’m Forrest…Forrest Gump, are instantly identifiable and invoke feelings of nostalgia and peace, while others, like Run Forrest Run, make you warm with joy and inspiration. The score nicely complements the movie’s scope and ambition, and it can also hit you with great poignant power when the time comes for the tears.


#3: “Gladiator” (2000)


Like most of Hans Zimmer’s greatest work, the score for “Gladiator” ranges from bombastic and heroic to serene and beautiful. Heck, the music almost upstages the movie itself. Am I Not Merciful is one of Zimmer’s most epic and heartbreaking pieces of music ever recorded, and Earth, contrastingly, is one of his most peaceful and magnificent. Meanwhile, co-composer Lisa Gerrard’s angelic voice resonates throughout much of the movie and lends it a Biblical sense of magnificence and awe. It’s a suitably epic and morose score for an epic and morose movie.


#2: “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” (1982)



We think it’s safe to say that John Williams is an undisputed master and one of the all-time great movie composers. His work on “E.T.” is nothing short of magnificent. The wondrous score and brilliant visuals often match each other perfectly, ensuring that we shed tears simply as a result of the sheer beauty and cinematic passion displayed on screen. Other times, the score and story combine to create some of film’s most heartbreaking scenes, like when E.T. is dying or when Elliot is forced to say goodbye. The music and visuals of “E.T.” define the imaginative potential of film.


Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.


“Her” (2013)


“Meet Joe Black” (1998)


“Up” (2009)


#1: “Schindler’s List” (1993)



Nearly every aspect of “Schindler’s List” is perfect, not least of all John Williams’ score. Williams initially found that the movie was too hard to compose for and told Spielberg that he needed a better composer to accurately complement the haunting images and the dramatic intensity of the film’s themes. However, he stuck it out, and managed to create arguably the most emotionally affective score in cinema history. It can make you cry in horror, it can make you cry in sorrow, and it can make you cry with its heart-wrenching thematic relevance. This historical period drama is a cry-a-minute masterpiece, and John Williams’ score is a major contributing factor.
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