My choices may not be particularly modern (post-Star Wars, that is) but the classics are the classics…
Jaws (1975) – John Williams
John Williams’s terrifying, Oscar-winning music brought out more cold sweats in the cinema audience than the shark. Good job, too, as it allowed Spielberg to keep his malfunctioning mechanical shark out of sight and let the score do the scaring.
Once Upon a Time in the West (1968) – Ennio Morricone
An operatic feast from Ennio Morricone who wrote an epic score for this epic spaghetti western before a single shot had been filmed. Sergio Leone then directed the movie to suit the score. Ultimate respect.
The Magnificent Seven (1960) – Elmer Bernstein
Instantly recognisable theme from Elmer Bernstein (thoughThe Great Escape soundtrack runs it close). Just hearing the first few bars means it’s time to sit back and watch a western classic.
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969) – John Barry
His name is Barry, John Barry, and when it comes to Bond, he’s the composer sans pareil. All his scores for 007 are great, but with Louis Armstrong crooning all over We Have All the Time in the World, this one might just have the edge.
Taxi Driver (1976) – Bernard Herrmann
Hitchcock classics like Psycho, Vertigo and North by Northwest would be cheapened without Bernard Herrmann score but I’ll go for his sweeping but menacing swansong for Martin Scorsese’s urban masterpiece.