Legendary musician and Oscar-winning composer John Williams turns 90 today. In many ways, he is considered the epitome of film score composition because he elevated the possibilities of so many films and genres that might otherwise have felt standard or safe.
With 52 Oscar nominations, he is the second most nominated individual after Walt Disney in Oscar history. He won five Oscars during his impressive career: “Fiddler on the Roof” (1971), “Jaws” (1976), “Star Wars” (1977), “ET the Extraterrestrial” (1982) and “The Schindler’s List” (1993). Its multiple nominations were split across various premieres in the Original Score category, including Best Sheet Music – Adaptation or Treatment, and when it was split between Drama and Comedy or Musical. He was also recognized for his contributions to several original songs, a category in which he did not win.
Additionally, Williams has won 25 Grammys, seven BAFTAs and three Emmy Awards. However, he has yet to win a Tony to complete his EGOT status. He also received honorary Doctor of Music degrees from Berklee College of Music and Boston College and several lifetime achievement awards, including AFI. Many of his most acclaimed and popular scores have been directed by filmmakers such as Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Richard Donner and Chris Columbus.
When tackling a list that essentially splits hairs in half on which score is better than another, we should note some rules adopted when approaching this monumental task. First, we’ve included a score per franchise – otherwise, we could easily have had a top 10 of all “Star Wars” and “Harry Potter” movies. Below, Variety ranks the top 10 musical scores of John Williams’ career.
Honorable mentions: “Hook” (1991), “Saving Private Ryan” (1998) and “Catch Me If You Can” (2002)