films The Greatest Movie Themes

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List Rules Theme music for films

A memorable movie theme song is an underrated crucial element that helps turn a great movie into an iconic one. At its core, a movie score is supposed to capture the mood and set the tone of what's going on in a particular scene. But the theme song if done right, can be as iconic as the film itself. Many film score composers set out to write a theme that fully encapsulates what a film is going for, but only a handful have become the greatest.

Perhaps the most famous film composer is John Williams, who is well represented on this list. Williams is the musical mind behind some of the greatest movie themes like Jurassic Park, Indiana Jones, Superman, Jaws and the Star Wars movies. These film scores are as memorable and iconic as the films.

Great movie themes are often instrumentals that when played, can be easily recognized. Themes from Rocky, Batman, The Godfather franchise, 2001: A Space Odyssey, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial and Psycho are among the most recognizable songs and have long since established their place in pop culture. You can hear these songs on commercials and often times at sporting events as well.

The key element to remember as you vote on your favorite theme song is that we are only voting on the theme, not the entire score or soundtrack. This is the Ultimate List specifically for theme songs, so vote on what you think is the greatest movie them of all time. If you think a movie theme is missing, feel free to add it.

To vote on the movies with the best "mix tape" style soundtracks, not scores, check out Movies with the Best Soundtracks. For best all-around sound, vote on The Greatest Soundtracks in Film History.
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Star Wars


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Actors: Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, James Earl Jones Alec Guinness, + more

Initial Release: 1977

Directed by: George Lucas

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#1 on The Greatest Sci-Fi Movies of All Time

#3 on The Best Robot & Android Movies

#1 on The Greatest Film Scores of All Time

#19 on The Greatest Soundtracks of All Time

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Actors: Harrison Ford, Alfred Molina, Karen Allen, Frank Welker Denholm Elliott, + more

Initial Release: 1981

Directed by: Steven Spielberg

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#2 on The Best '80s Action Movies

#3 on The Greatest Film Scores of All Time

#29 on The Best Fantasy Movies

#6 on The Most Rewatchable Movies

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16 people just voted on James Bond


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Actors: Kalabhavan Mani, Indrans Surendran, Raghu, Vani Viswanath

Initial Release: 1999

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#1 on The Best Movies With James in the Title

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18 people just voted on Rocky


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Actors: Sylvester Stallone, Joe Frazier, Burgess Meredith, Carl Weathers Talia Shire, + more

Initial Release: 1976

Directed by: John G. Avildsen

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#10 on The Very Best Oscar-Winning Movies

#11 on The Greatest Film Scores of All Time

#21 on The Greatest Soundtracks of All Time

#1 on The Best Sports Movies

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Jaws


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Actors: Steven Spielberg, Richard Dreyfuss, Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw John Searle, + more

Initial Release: 1975

Directed by: Steven Spielberg

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#9 on The Greatest Film Scores of All Time

#57 on The Greatest Soundtracks of All Time

#18 on The Best Movies on Netflix Instant

#3 on The Best '70s Horror Movies

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14 people just voted on Jurassic Park


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Actors: Samuel L. Jackson, Jeff Goldblum, Richard Attenborough, Laura Dern Sam Neill, + more

Initial Release: 1993

Directed by: Steven Spielberg

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#12 on The Greatest Sci-Fi Movies of All Time

#12 on The Greatest Film Scores of All Time

#35 on The Best Fantasy Movies

#5 on The Most Rewatchable Movies

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12 people just voted on Ghostbusters


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Actors: Bill Murray, Sigourney Weaver, Dan Aykroyd, Bill Walton Ron Jeremy, + more

Initial Release: 1984

Directed by: Ivan Reitman

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#19 on The Greatest Sci-Fi Movies of All Time

#19 on The Best '80s Action Movies

#78 on The Greatest Film Scores of All Time

#25 on The Greatest Soundtracks of All Time

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Actors: Clint Eastwood, Viggo Mortensen, Mark Strong, Jason Isaacs Eli Wallach, + more

Initial Release: 2008

Directed by: Sergio Leone, Vicente Amorim

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#1 on The Best Western Movies Ever Made

#4 on The Greatest Film Scores of All Time

#69 on The Greatest Soundtracks of All Time

#88 on The Most Rewatchable Movies

see more on The Good, the Bad and the Ugly