7. ‘Miracle’ (Mark Isham, 2004)
The music by Mark Isham for the 2004 Hollywoodization of the Miracle on Ice in 1980 is a slow build, but offers a big payoff. It is heavy on warmth but not overly manipulative, and the large orchestral climax seems to be a bit restrained for the genre. However, the full unveiling of the main theme in the song “The Miracle” is enough to give you the chills. Amazingly, Isham’s “Miracle” track was also used to score the ending to “Rocky Balboa” found on that movie’s DVD.
6. ‘Chariots of Fire’ (Vangelis, 1981)
These days, although the Oscar-winning score of Vangelis is almost always used as parody, it was a groundbreaker in 1981 and the iconic main theme remains quite an inspiring piece. Besides the famous main theme, Vangelis’ other themes for the movie are also moving and offer evidence of the emotional range that electronic music can provide. The electronic approach to a sports drama has been the antithesis of convention. It works and has transcended the movie to log in the greater conscience of pop culture, inspiring would-be runners 34 years later.
5. ‘Hoosiers’ (Jerry Goldsmith, 1986)
The beloved period basketball drama offered a great opportunity for a composer to enhance the Americana through music with Jerry Goldsmith pulling it off through an usually effective mix of electronic supplements and warm orchestral arrangements, including the sound of a bouncing basketball as a percussion component. Jerry Goldsmith’s main trumpet theme for the town of Hickory is nostalgic and hopeful, meanwhile his scoring of the basketball sequences mirrors the intensity and energy of competition. The score sets up to the stirring and triumphant cue “The Finals,” where all themes are heard in their goosebump-inducing glory. In spite of its sometimes dated sound, Goldsmith’s Oscar-nominated score still offers a lot of appeal.
4. ‘Rocky’ (Bill Conti, 1976)
The iconic score of Bill Conti to the 1976 Best Picture winner ‘Rocky’ still feels omnipresent even after 43 years. From the well-known opening brass fanfare to the ‘1970s-heavy “Gonna Fly Now,” the music of the film has endured wannabe athletes and inspired athletes for decades. Although “Gonna Fly Now” is the signature piece from the soundtrack, the cue “Going the Distance” might be the best.