Favorites of and reflection on 2020

It has become a tradition for me to write down my thoughts about the previous year at the start of a new year, and what a year it has been. This will be the fourth article, making Soundtrack World four years old. 2020 started off amazingly with the International Film FestivalRotterdam, which I attended. I went to a Harry Potter concert in the same city, I attended a Star Wars concert in Prague, and then disaster hit. . . 

COVID-19 has hit the world very hard, resulting in many people getting ill and way too many casualties. With everyone needing to stay at home, the world of film and music came to a sudden halt. Movie theaters had to close their doors, and the production of movies had to be postponed. Not only was delaying movies bad for the film music industry, but there was also the fact that orchestras and other musicians were not able to record and perform, resulting in huge financial problems. For me personally, it meant that I was not able to see new movies in theaters. I was also unable to attend any concerts in Europe, and I could not meet other film music enthusiasts, which I like to do every year.

Everyone had to learn how to adapt. The film music industry tried to make the best out of it, with video meetings and online concerts, as can be read in my Coping with the corona crisis with film music article. When the pandemic started I had the idea that finding new soundtracks to review would become a problem, and while I did do a couple of reviews on old soundtracks, with Lara Croft: Tomb Raider – The Cradle of Life and The Mission, I was still able to write reviews for new soundtracks, which were coming out on streaming services, television and for games. To see which ones I liked the most, check out the list of my favorites below.

Last year brought some other changes to the website and me that were not COVID-related. First, I stepped down from being a crew member for StreamingSoundtracks.com, in order to fully focus on Soundtrack World. Other people have taken over so the site remains in good hands, and, as a formal ambassador, I will still promote the station whenever I can. In 2020 I also started a YouTube series, called Unscripted, in which I talk about film music for around ten minutes once a month. I am still figuring out the best format for these videos, but they are quite fun to do. If you only have ten minutes to spend to get up to speed with recent film music information, these videos are perfect for you.

While I am writing this, the first vaccines are being applied to those who need them the most. Hopefully the distribution will go well all over the world and it will stop people from getting sick and dying. I also hope that we will all be able to go back to doing the things we love to do, which for me is meeting friends, going to the movie theater and attending film music concerts.

Special thanks

While I have written almost all the articles myself, I am fortunate to not only have a group of friends helping me behind the scenes to proofread my English and Dutch articles, but also some of them willing to write content for the site. 

They are:

  • Chris Broekema
  • Dennis van der Laan
  • Erik Schreiber (also thank you for The Symphony of Four Worlds report!)
  • Gerard Aalbers
  • Johannes Oudolf
  • Ola Ziółek
  • Ronald Wijlens
  • Saskia Schreiber
  • Stefan Bosman

Also thanks to Noah Marconi for his fantastic in-depth Finding Nemo review. I am very grateful for their time and their help in increasing the quality of Soundtrack World’s content.

Favorites of 2020

As is tradition, it is time to share my personal favorites of 2020.

Favorite Concert

The Symphony of Four Worlds in Wroclaw, Poland

One of the silver linings in these terrible times was the switch to online events, since big crowds of people for film music concerts were impossible. I was able to enjoy the World Soundtrack Awards, the Krakow Film Music Festival, and my favorite, the Game Music Festival from the comforts of my couch. As you can see, this last report has been written by Erik Schreiber who attended the festival. If you are curious about my own thoughts, I talk about them in Unscripted #4. While I watched this concert on my TV I was quite impressed with the music, the performance of the orchestra, and also with the two soloists, who had to replace Ashley Barrett and Darren Korb, who were unable to attend.

Favorite Encounter

Meeting Howard Shore during the International Film Festival in Rotterdam

While the majority of events have been canceled, my highlight from 2020 happened, luckily, before the pandemic hit. I had the privilege to speak with Howard Shore for 15 minutes. Being able to sit with him on a couch and to talk about his creativity is something I will never forget. This would not have been possible without the help of the IFFR, Buma Music in Motion and Post Bills, for which they have my thanks.

Favorite Track from a Soundtrack

“Buck Takes the Lead” from The Call of the Wild
by John Powell

Even though not many movies came out in theaters, there were still many gorgeous tracks to choose from last year. Some of the other candidates were: “The Night Window” from 1917 by Thomas Newman, “Shriek and Ori” from Ori and the Will of the Wisps by Gareth Coker, “Animal Crackers Overture” from Animal Crackers by Bear McCreary, “None have Returned” from The Pathless by Austin Wintory, and just before the end of the year: “Open Road” from Wonder Woman 1984 by Hans Zimmer. 

Those who know me, know that I have a sweet spot for John Powell’s music, and “Buck Takes the Lead” from The Call of the Wild has everything in it that I like about film music. First of all, it has an amazing drive that just keeps going, and secondly, the two themes from the movie are perfectly integrated into this track. All of it is composed in John Powell’s superb musical style, making this my favorite track of 2020.

Favorite Soundtrack

Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn by Daniel Pemberton

Choosing my favorite soundtrack for 2020 was also quite difficult. A solid candidate for this category was Thomas Newman’s 1917, which contains many magnificent tracks, but also some sections of the score that were not that interesting to listen to on their own. Other superb soundtracks I could choose from can also be found in my favorite track of the year list, which are: Ori and the Will of the Wisps, Animal Crackers, The Pathless and Wonder Woman 1984.

The reason why I chose Birds of Prey by Pemberton as my favorite is that the music is perfect for the movie. It is crazy, fun, innovative and unique. The themes in the music are well thought out, and the score is a pure joy to listen to from start to end. Every time I put this soundtrack on, it puts a smile on my face, and I have to admit that I needed something to smile about after everything happening in 2020. Hopefully 2021 will be better.


  • Anton Smit

    Anton is the editor-in-chief and founder of Soundtrack World. After writing about film music occasionally, he thought it was time to create his own site to celebrate music from film but also other media. Next to working on this website, Anton is a member of the International Film Music Critics Association, has a job in IT and plays the tuba in a local orchestra.

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