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The 8 Best Michael Giacchino Movie Scores

Robert Pattinson as Batman and Zoe Kravitz as Catwoman in The Batman
(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

The music score of a film can make all the difference in how it makes us feel while we’re watching a sequence. Sometimes it can be easy to forget, but that’s seldom the case when Michael Giacchino is behind the music. In the last two decades, he has become one of the most popular composers of movie themes and scores. His work is incredibly prolific, as it spans from Pixar films to action franchises and superhero flicks. 

Having felt "total freedom" putting together the score for the now-released The Batman, based on a character previously composed by Danny Elfman, Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard, I felt it was time to take a look back at Michael Giacchino’s body of work and determine his 10 best scores – with the caveat that he has great TV scores as well (I’m not over his Lost themes) that I’m leaving out for this particular list. 

The Incredibles family running in costume

(Image credit: Pixar Animation)

The Incredibles

2004's The Incredibles was the first film Michael Giacchino scored (if you can believe it). Right off the bat, after getting his start on TV with J.J. Abrams’ Alias and Lost, this is a bold and super fun score that has a massive presence in the feeling of the action-animated flick that was directed by Brad Bird. 

The Incredibles score is a full orchestral jazz piece, which is pretty rare for a movie to go to, but worked super well for setting the tone of the film. My personal favorite music moment is “100 Mile Dash,” where the music actually helps inform Dash’s feelings as he walks on water for the first time with limited dialogue. 

Patton Oswalt as Remy in Ratatouille

(Image credit: Disney)

Ratatouille 

For a long time, I felt Ratatouille wasn’t getting the love it deserved, but then TikTokers created a collaborative musical during the pandemic as a tribute to it. The 2007 Pixar movie about a little French rat who can cook includes a breathtaking score by Giacchino as well. 

The sequence that best showcases how great Giacchino’s music is in it is early on when Remy finds himself in Paris, and scurries through the walls of the city. The score perfectly whisks us into Remy’s perspective as a huge dreamer of French cooking and culture through his little eyes. 

Zachary Quinto and Chris Pine in Star Trek

(Image credit: Paramount Pictures)

Star Trek

In 2009, Michael Giacchino re-teamed with J.J. Abrams to bring back the U.S.S. Enterprise back to the big screen for Star Trek. The iconic franchise was already well-known for its theme music, but the composer found a beautiful way to set the film apart with its sweeping score. 

This Star Trek score is everything. It’s incredibly epic, full of wonder and adrenaline that fuels the new take on the science fiction franchise. These movies would absolutely not be the same without Giacchino’s score as a character. 

Carl and Ellie in the opening scene of Pixar's Up

(Image credit: Pixar)

Up

Up’s opening scene will go down in history as one of the best moments in cinematic history, and the score behind it has a lot to do with what makes it so great. The beautiful Pixar theme, which you’ll also hear nowadays while strolling through Disney Parks, is a lesson in how music can guide us through an emotional storyline. 

I’m not crying, you’re crying! Michael Giacchino’s 2009 score takes the same melody and moves it from a happy, carefree one of Carl and Ellie’s younger years as the animation tells the story of the couple’s lifetime together. I'll go as far as to say it's one of the best pieces of movie music of all time. 

Joy, Sadness and Bing Bong in Inside Out

(Image credit: Pixar)

Inside Out 

Michael Giacchino hit another home run with Pixar with 2015’s Inside Out. The movie about the emotions that live inside your head has some fun-loving energy to it most movies from the animation house do, but Giacchino’s score brings it to another level through its ethereal sound. 

“Bundle of Joy” is an especially memorable moment on the soundtrack, but the entire score contributes to an incredibly emotional experience that balances adventure with the film’s underlying themes of moving away from childhood. 

Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange in 2016 movie

(Image credit: Marvel)

Doctor Strange 

The Marvel Cinematic Universe is packed full of heroic scores, but overall, let’s be honest, there isn't a ton of distinctive music from the universe, aside from the Avengers theme. That all changed when Michael Giacchino came on board to do the score for 2016's Doctor Strange.

The “Master of the Mystic” is an especially fun piece of music that not only makes Doctor Strange a distinct Marvel character, but helps add personality to the movie itself. And on other films, when Strange comes on screen, it's always fun hearing a callback to the theme established in this film. 

Felicity Jones as Jyn Erso in Rogue One

(Image credit: Lucasfilm)

Rogue One

If tackling Pixar films, Star Trek and Marvel wasn’t enough, Michael Giacchino was also commissioned to do the score for the 2016 Star Wars spinoff film Rogue One. It’s a tall order considering that up to that point, John Williams typically did music for the franchise and has created some all-time great themes over the years. With Rogue One, Giacchino really knocked it out with this emotional, yet truly epic score. 

Rogue One feels like a homage to the kind of movie score music Star Wars is known for, whilst bringing Michael Giacchino’s sensibilities into the equation. The score acts as another key element to the story that feels like it encapsulates Jyn’s specific journey in the Star Wars universe.

Robert Pattinson in batsuit in The Batman

(Image credit: Warner Bros)

The Batman 

Giacchino has done it yet again with a career-best score in The Batman. Once again, the composer rises to the occasion, despite this not being the first theme for the hero in the cape and cowl. The latest score from the composer is creepy and gothic, but also reflects the epic scale of a Batman flick: 

Coming fresh off of The Batman, which is three hours long, I must say the music is among the most affecting pieces of music I’ve heard in a theater in some time. After sitting with the music as the movie unfolds, you feel as though the drums are pulsing through you hours after watching it. 

Michael Giacchino has an insanely impressive body of work so far. We didn’t even touch on Mission: Impossible, the MCU Spider-Man movies or Coco. We’ll look forward to what else the composer has to offer moving forward. Check out the composer on CinemaBlend’s ReelBlend podcast and stay up to date with the upcoming movies being released in the coming months. 

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