[Article - The Best of 1999]
Well, here it comes: a new year, a new century. The new millenium is still officially a year away, but okay, a new millenium. So I present to you my picks for the best soundtracks of 1999. These aren't in any particular order, so don't read into the sequence too much! Have a safe and happy New Year!

Top 10 Soundtracks of 1999

Mychael Danna's unique and brooding score stood out as one of the best of the beginning of the year, and it would be bad form to forget about it almost a year after it came out.

Similiarly, Michael Nyman's amazing score shouldn't be forgotten, even if the film was. As far as I'm concerned, the Golden Globe nomination for The End of the Affair was for the wrong film.

The Matrix
Don Davis used a lot of "reflective" idioms in this score, and provided a very strong backbone to a film which was one of the more successful action films of 1999.

The Red Violin
John Corigliano's powerful and moving score was seasoned and ripened as he had more time to write it than most composers get. With strong themes and even a concert suite at the end, this soundtrack belongs on everyone's shelf.

South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut
Yes, Marc Shaiman's amazing score doesn't show up at all on this album, but the songs he wrote with Trey Parker do. With plenty of energy and hilarity, these songs make the album one of the best of the year, even though I could do without the rap stuff at the end.

American Beauty
While the score album doesn't officially come out until 2000, it's still a 1999 soundtrack. Thomas Newman's off-beat and quirky score is always tender and moving, and the title track, "American Beauty" is one of the most moving cues of 1999.

Angelas Ashes
While I don't think the music was as powerful in the film as it was on the soundtrack, John Williams' score has a powerful main theme, and I felt that it was a better score than Star Wars Episode One: The Phantom Menace. But "The Duel of the Fates" does get an honorable mention. Additionally, the dialogue in Angela's Ashes is not bad, contrary to what some people think.

The Insider
Lisa Gerrard and Pieter Bourke's atmospheric score is enchanced with contributions by Graeme Revell and Gustavo Santaolalla. Don't let the lenght of the film put you off - it's well worth catching in theaters if you can.

The Talented Mr. Ripley
With some classical jazz tunes spattered across the album, there wasn't too much room left for Gabriel Yared's incredible score. But there's room enough, and we not only get a few variations of his "Italia" theme, but the "Lullaby For Caine" theme is ominous and tragic - and contains a great performance by Sinead O'Connor.

Anna and the King
George Fenton's score didn't seem too powerful in the movie, but upon listening to the album, I realized how sweeping and intricate it really is. Rather than use a love theme, it's a theme of sadness - and that makes it quite a unique "romantic score". The song "How Can I Not Love You", sung by Joy Enriquez, was written by Fenton as well, and fits into the spriit of the film just perfectly.

Honorable Mention: Titus
Elliot Goldenthal's powerful and emotional score to Titus is an inventive and stunningly original work that sounds out as one of the best films of 1999. It encompasses every style of writing that he has used for the past ten year, in a sense creating the ultimate "compilation album" - but it's all entirely new compositions. While I wasn't too thrilled with the film itself, the score stood out and as a result Titus is a rather enjoyable album to listen to.

Top 5 Compilation Albums of 1999

The Lion's Roar - Classic MGM Film Scores
This two-CD set covers a lot of original recordings from early MGM films, including such biggies as Mutiny on the Bounty, The Wizard of Oz, The Yearling, Ivanhoe, Bad Day At Black Rock, Lust For Life, Ben-Hur, A Patch of Blue, Dr. Zhivago, and many more. Many were never released, and it covers a large swath of classic American film scores (and composers).

Miklos Rozsa at MGM
Another great compilation album focuses exclusively on Miklos Rozsa and the works he did while at MGM. Almost all of the music on this album has never been released before, and it deserves to be mentioned as one of the best compilations of 1999.

The Twilight Zone: 40th Anniversary Collection
This compilation album takes up a staggering 4-CDs, and covers Jerry Goldsmith and Bernard Herrmann, as well as many of the contributing composers to this classic sci-fi series. These are all the original recordings, and there are also plenty of bonus tracks to boot.

Go Simpsonic With The Simpsons
While not really a "compilation" album, this is a compilation of songs from the hit television show. "The Simpsons". Alf Clausen has once again outdone himself and provided us with over an hour of hilarious songs and dialogue from the show in this followup to the successful "Songs in the Key of Springfield".

John Williams' Greatest Hits: 1969-1999
This is a great 2-CD set which has the fortune of being released from Sony Classical. Fortunate because most of the original recordings on this compilation were originally released on Sony, so it was easy to secure the rights. (Unlike other compilations which tend to be re-recordings.) While there aren't any previously unreleased cues, it is a rather substantial restrospective of Williams' work over the past 30 years, and the art design on the album is one of the sleekest I've seen recently.

Top 5 Re-issues (scores older than 1999)

Raise The Titanic
After almost 20 years, it was a joy to finally have a score release to John Barry's Raise the Titanic. While this is a re-recording, it's the complete score and sounds amazingly close to the actual film performance, due mostly to Nic Raine's involvement. A classic Barry score which was a long time coming.

Contract On Cherry Street
This television film by Jerry Goldsmith was done shortly after The Omen, and it retains the same orchestrational style, but without a choir and with a jazzy, memorable theme. It is very similar to his work on "The Twilight Zone", and stands out as a great Goldsmith work from the 1970's which finally got a release.

Top Gun
Let's face it. Top Gun was a really fun movie, and had a killer soundtrack. Finally they put out an expanded soundtrack to this film, with more songs (can you believe that "Danger Zone" was never on the original album?) and one more score cue. While it would have been nice to have more of Harold Faltermeyer's score, the extra songs and cue make this album a notable re-issue.

The Comancheros
Released by Film Score Monthly, Elmer Bernstein's score to The Comancheros finally got a release. As he always does, Bernstein wrote a great western theme, and this album presents more or less the complete score, even with a few bonus tracks. It is nice to see Film Score Monthly putting out some great scores (such as their recent All About Eve release), and I look forward to seeing what they put out next.

Once Upon A Time in America
Ennio Morricone's classic score finally got an expanded re-issue this year. Not only do we get the classic score, but we also got plenty of previously unreleased cues, including a few alternate cues which were never used. One of Morricone's best scores gets the treatment it rightfully deserves.