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These are ten of the Best Michael Giacchino movie scores, ranked

Trust me and grab some tissues.

Spock (Zachary Quinto) and Kirk (Chris Pine) face destiny head on in Star Trek.

Whenever I think about composer Michael Giacchino and his work, there’s only one thing that pops into my head — and it’s one of the most famous spaceships in pop culture, exploring the final frontier on its five-year mission.

But Giacchino’s career — a very successful one, I should add, since it features a wide array of awards including an Oscar — goes beyond the bridge of the Enterprise. After a start in television — and what a start that was — he went on to specialise in animation and genre movies, establishing successful collaborations with Pixar, Marvel, and DC as well as directors J.J. Abrams and Taika Waititi, just to cite a few.

Michael Giacchino composed the soundtrack of Coco, and he appears in the movie as well— directing, of course (Disney)

So, here’s a list of his ten best scores— which I’m sure you’ll find filled with very familiar and much-beloved musical themes:

10. Doctor Strange (2016)

One of the many Marvel collaborations of Michael Giacchino’s career, the score to Doctor Strange sets the tone for the more magical and mystical side of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, a tone that Denny Elfman will stretch out into the more horror vibes in Multiverse of Madness. Fun fact: the score was recorded mostly at Abbey Road Studios in London, where Paul McCartney happened to hear a bit of it and compared it to I Am the Walrus by The Beatles.

9. The Batman (2022)

Once you go superhero you never come back, or however the saying goes—from Marvel to DC, Giacchino’s career is dotted with famous superheroes and so it couldn’t not have the dark knight among them. Giacchino finished working on The Batman score way ahead of what was expected and what was anticipated for a movie of this scale—which meant that the soundtrack could be used also in all of the promotional materials as well as in the actual movie.

8. Jojo Rabbit (2019)

Apparently, writer and director Taika Waititi liked Giacchino’s work on Up so much that he called him personally to work on the score of Jojo Rabbit, one of the critical darlings of its release year.  The fairy-tale-like score encompasses both happiness and grief, as well as musical themes of 1940s Germany and classical European pieces. Giacchino recorded the soundtrack with a smaller orchestra since he believed would make the sound feel even more emotional and intimate.

7. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)

Rogue One might be set in the galaxy far, far away but it has a decisively different feel than the nine “regular” Episodes of Star Wars. It’s the first movie, in my opinion, that truly feels like a war movie—where war is gritty and violent and sometimes fatal, even for our protagonists. Michael Giacchino approached this particular project probably knowing he had some very big John Williams-shaped shoes to fill, and he managed to do that splendidly—incorporating John Williams’ iconic musical motifs in a score that expresses the full gravitas and risk of what the Rogue One crew is trying to do.

6. Lost (2004-2010)

One of the biggest projects that started Michael Giacchino’s career — as well as his collaboration with J.J. Abrams — was actually on a television show, and what a show that was. The score for Lost features some unique sounds that are connected directly to the story: like those obtained by striking the suspended pieces of the crashed plane, as well as a wide array of recurring motifs for characters, locations and themes.

5. Ratatouille (2007)

One of Giacchino’s favoured areas to work in seems to be animation, and his partnership with Disney and Pixar has brought to the creation of some truly great masterpieces — the soundtrack of Ratatouille being one of them. The tracks are heavily influenced by French folk-pop and romanticism, as well as typical Parisian cafe sounds. Giacchino also won his first Grammy Award with this score, a testament to how he managed to capture the deeply emotional side of the movie.

4. Spider-Man: Homecoming  (2017)

Michael Giacchino is also the man behind the music for the most recent iteration of everyone’s favorite web-slinger—since he scored not only Homecoming but also Far From Home in 2019 and No Way Home in 2021. Like in any score that reprises iconic themes and characters, Giacchino reprised some of the musical motifs tied to Spider-Man (such as the one from the original television series, which is played over the Marvel Cinematic Universe opening credits) and rearranged in music that seems at the same time both familiar and new.

3. The Incredibles (2004)

Can you believe that The Incredibles was one of Michael Giacchino’s first big Hollywood projects? And that iconic James Bond-meets-Mission: Impossible-meets-superheroes main theme is what came out of it? Like all great musical motifs, the main theme of The Incredibles has by now become immediately recognisable and it has undoubtedly helped solidify the movie itself as a pop-culture staple. 

2. Star Trek (2009)

I may be biased here since Enterprising Young Men has been my phone ringtone for the longest time around the 2010s, but Giacchino’s work on the Star Trek reboot movies is nothing short of legendary—because once again, he stepped up to a musical motif that was well-established and even better-loved and created something that felt in equal parts new and familiar, precisely like a different timeline of the same universe should feel.

1. Up (2009)

A mandatory number one, and it’s not because Up was Michael Giacchino’s first — and for now only — Oscar win. It’s because the first ten minutes of Up, a true movie-within-a-movie, have absolutely devastated us all and continue to do so and it’s thanks in no small part to Giacchino’s work on the track “Married Life,” a brilliant example of how sometimes music is enough to tell a great story, without the need for words.

A final funny bit of trivia to tie off this list: Michael Giacchino is known for using recurring, pun-filled titles in his tracks, as well as throwbacks to his previous works. The Incredibles features a track titled “100 Mile Dash,” and so Ratatouille has one titled “100 Rat Dash”. 

But the best example of this is the “World’s Worst Something” title—”World’s Worst Beach Party” from Lost, “World’s Worst Last 4 Minutes to Live” from Mission: Impossible III, “World’s Worst Animal Shelter” from Zootopia. And of course, when the story takes place outside of our world, the title gets adjusted accordingly. Look into the Star Trek score for “Galaxy’s Worst Sushi Bar” and into the Doctor Strange one for “Astral World’s Worst Killer”.

(image: Paramount)

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Benedetta (she/her) lives in Italy and has been writing about pop culture and entertainment since 2015. She has considered being in fandom a defining character trait since she was in middle school and wasn't old enough to read the fanfiction she was definitely reading and loves dragons, complex magic systems, unhinged female characters, tragic villains and good queer representation. You’ll find her covering everything genre fiction, especially if it’s fantasy-adjacent and even more especially if it’s about ASOIAF. In this Bangtan Sonyeondan sh*t for life.