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Top 5 Movie Scores That Will Make You Cry

And Here Come The Waterworks

Classics in the world of film aren’t only held in high regard for their intriguing narratives, layered characters and brilliant cinematography, but also for their unforgettable soundtracks. Whether it’s enhancing the atmosphere of a particular scene or a sweeping send-off right before the credits roll, these scores still stick with us decades after our first viewings.

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#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.

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#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.

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#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. 

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#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. 

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#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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Be sure to check out the video below to see our picks for the Top 10 Best Hans Zimmer Scores.

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