Non-composer in the sense that they had a musical career before composing for film
  1. The Graduate - Simon & Garfunkel
    This was the first major film to use a score compromised almost entirely of songs. Film composers were shitting bricks because they thought this would become the norm. It didn't, partially because no "song score" has ever been so perfect.
  2. Hanna - The Chemical Brothers
    Was this film simply a beautifully shot music video to showcase the incredible talents of The Chemical Brothers? If so, it succeeded!
  3. Ruby Sparks - Nick Urata (DeVotchka)
    DeVotchka gained considerably more fame after they provided the quirky score for Little Miss Sunshine, but in my opinion, the Ruby Sparks score is just as strong, if not more so. The cue "Inseparable" tells you all you need to know about this film: it's playful, it's eerie, it's got a weird sense of humor, and there's something strangely romantic about it all.
  4. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind - Jon Brion (Kayne, Fiona Apple)
    Producer, multi-instrumentalist, and mad scientist Jon Brion had been scoring films for a few years in between his weekly Largo shows (really, really good scores, btw) but ES is head and shoulders above the rest because he managed to capture the beautiful imagery and bizarre story and perfectly convert them into music. Just listen to the score and you know what kind of movie you're watching - tough for such a unique piece of cinema.
  5. The Virgin Suicides - Air
    I spent a few years wishing I was the third member of Air and this soundtrack is chiefly responsible. Some songs, some weird noise pieces, and a lot of French attitude. I'm not fully convinced Sophia Coppola isn't French.
  6. Inherent Vice - Jonny Greenwood (Radiohead)
    More then There Will Be Blood, more than The Master. I could not believe I was listening to a modern film score, much less one written by the guy who gave us Paranoid Android. I truly think Greenwood built a time machine and got Max Steiner or Franz Waxman to ghost write this score. Listen to the cue "Shasta" and tell me it doesn't remind you of the original King Kong.
  7. Superfly - Curtis Mayfield
    If you count this as a film score than there's simply no better soundtrack ever. Period. I don't even know why anyone's trying to make dance music anymore - just put this record on and groove.
  8. Where the Wild Things Are - Karen O (The Yeah Yeah Yeahs)
    Wasn't a huge fan of the movie nor am I a huge fan of the YYYs, but it's hard to deny that this score captured a certain feeling of youthful wonder and nostalgia that fit perfectly with the beloved book.
  9. About a Boy - Badly Drawn Boy
    Taking a cue from the Graduate, this score is mainly comprised of songs by the English singer/songwriter Damon Gough aka Badly Drawn Boy. And it works surprisingly well because it's a small story with a lot of heart and these are small songs with a lot of heart.
  10. The Social Network - Atticus Ross and Trent Reznor (Nine Inch Nails)
    While the How to Train Your Dragon score was better, I do believe this team deserved to win the Oscar because it was the one score every that year knew. In fact, I would argue it was the first score in some time that most people were aware of and could recognize. I'm always partial to the cue "In Motion" - it's got a cool 3 over 4 thing going on.
  11. Pee-Wee's Big Adventure - Danny Elfman
    This is bonus #11 because Elfman is now known more for his film scores than anything else, but I just want to point out that prior to Pee-Wee, Elfman was a successful rocker with no intentions of ever scoring films. Pretty crazy to think about all the incredible work that would not exist had Tim Burton not asked Elfman to score his first film.
  12. Harold and Maude - Cat Stevens
    Suggested by @lesleyarfin