The answer to that question depends on the person’s interests. In order for you and I to agree upon the best composer in Hollywood, we would have to create a list of criteria by which to determine the winner. Most sources will note John Williams as the best composer in Hollywood, where as some of the biggest movie fans may choose another composer. Some of the biggest movie music fans may choose another composer. People who appreciate script, sound effects, visual effects, costume, set designs, make-up, casting, continuity, props, set dressing or CGI may all choose someone different. Although John Williams has an illustrious history in film, let’s talk about why others can be considered the best.
I am a huge fan of movie music. I listen to scores from films, I listen to movie soundtracks daily. I like them, it’s the genre of music that I enjoy. I also have certain moods and preferences for the music that I listen to. These preferences easily collide with the qualities that I may choose for determining the best composer in Hollywood.
It’s gotta sound big.
When I’m listening to a score, it has to have that wide stereo image and the sub bass needs to bang. I need all of that. A “good score” just doesn’t cut it for me. I need score that can be equally as entertaining without the visual media present.
It needs to sing.
I want to be able to hum the theme. I want to participate in the performance. Nothing is better than a movie score that evolves around a memorable theme.
Does it represent the script??
This brings us to a popular argument. Some people think that movie score should go unnoticed and some think that it should stand out. Others may choose to escape from both of those choices and say that the music should only enhance the story. I think it should do al of these things. There are places where it is appropriate for the music to sit up front and capture the viewer’s attention. There are tomes when the music should be in the background. There are also times when the music should tel the viewer how to feel. However, the composer is not the only person responsible for the music. This is a team effort. The composer delivers according to the director’s vision. In many cases, a producer may need to be satisfied as well.
Cues should have smooth transitions.
You can interpret this in a couple of ways. Even as I write this I argue with myself. Not every cue is going to start and end softly, some may enter with a bang and finish with a hit. There should be a sense of continuity from track to track. The listener should be able to tell that all of the cues belong to the same movie.