Tribute: 11 Exquisite James Horner Scores

James Horner holds up two Oscars after winning for Best Original Song and Original Dramatic Score fo..

When you look back at James Horner’s incredible filmography, it is hard to believe he only won two Oscars (score and song), both for his exquisite work in James Cameron’s “Titanic.” (1997). It is even harder to believe that after a small plane crash Monday, we have been cheated out of at least two more decades of Horner’s extraordinary gift. Horner died in that crash. He was only 61.

Where to begin with a career that reaches all the way back to 1978 and includes a whopping 125 credits as a film composer, dozens of them iconic, all of them made better for Horner’s contribution.

There is no way to rank or pick or choose the best or favorites from a body of work that is a rose garden for the ears. The list below is off the top of my head, the films Horner scored where the impact of his work sometimes lingered long after the film itself.

The best film scores are both larger-then-life and stealth; you don’t hear as much as feel them. They are as much a part of the film as the acting and cinematography. You don’t remember the score, you remember the way “that moment” in the film made you feel.

Horner created countless moments. Some of his best came at the end of the picture, after the final fade. His end credit themes oftentimes summed your emotions up in a way that made it impossible not to watch the credits all the way through (“Legends of the Fall,” “Glory,” “Star Trek II”).

I was also grateful to Horner for not falling in with the minimalist score rage that hit in the aughts after Thomas Newman’s “American Beauty” (1999) score.  Horner just kept plugging along, doing his thing until the Thomas Newman copycats went away.


Field of Dreams

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

Legends of the Fall



48 Hours


Clear and Present Danger

Enemy at the Gates

The Mask of Zorro

ADDED: Sheesh, I forgot Titanic…

So, twelve.


Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC