Our favorite scores of 2023 are wide-ranging. They include everything from intimate love stories to inventive looks into the past to the biggest and loudest blockbusters. We have animated juggernauts and weirder, wilder genre swings alongside the films that probably will get more awards attention for their scores — along with all their other categories. Some scores have gone viral on TikTok, and some have yet to have the chance; although if anything deserves its own TikTok trend, it is Robbie Robertson’s last, greatest work on “Killers of the Flower Moon.”

Whether as big as the universe or as small-scale as a lapsed relationship, whether orchestral, electronic, or a mix of both, this year’s best film scores go after a variety of different moods and presences inside their films. Constant hums and whirs animate films like “Poor Things” while the musical howl of “The Zone of Interest” only appears a handful of times throughout that film. But all of the best scores of 2023 make an instant impression.

And what unites all our choices is that the best scores of 2023 find ways to capture the scope of their stories through music, become an integral part of their films’ pacing, and innovate interesting sounds to better get at the heart of their characters. From Hilder Guðnadóttir’s foray into unnervingly parred-down chamber music on “A Haunting in Venice” to Daniel Pemberton’s ramp-up of the roaring beats of “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse,” to Kris Bowers and Michael Abel incorporating and interpreting classical works by the title character on “Chevalier,” there’s been a lot of experimentation among composers in 2023. But what’s most exciting is that the best film scores of 2023 are this varied and this ambitious, offering windows into their stories that only music can provide.

This gallery was initially published August 28, 2023, and has since been updated. It contains additional contributions from Bill Desowitz and Ryan Lattanzio.

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