Although I cannot help but try to crack jokes about his last name ("Alexander Diplodocus"), Alexandre Desplat's works have a kind of serene magic to them that is unique. Though influenced by John Williams very much, he has developed his own style, and I believe he will continue to be one of the best composers of this age.
My favorite piece: Girl With the Pearl Earring (from Girl with the Pearl Earring)
Other beautiful pieces: Lily's Theme (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows), The Master is Painting (Girl With the Pearl Earring), River Waltz (The Painted Veil)
Thomas Newman's scores have a kind of depth to them that makes my bones vibrate. Every time I listen to one of his more emotional songs, I find my creativity soaring.
My favorite piece: Whisper of a Thrill (Meet Joe Black)
Other beautiful pieces: Cathedral (Road to Perdition), Define Dancing (WALL.E), Just the Feller (Road to Perdition)
JAMES NEWTON HOWARD
I have to admit, I had a very difficult to decide whether I should put James Newton Howard as number 4 or number 5. He and Thomas Newman have very similar styles, with subtle details to set them apart. Regardless of his standing on this list, Newton Howard writes beautiful and intriguing music with may different colors.
My favorite piece: Reflections of Elijah (Unbreakable)
Other beautiful pieces: Aurora in Fairyland (Maleficent), Fairy Dance (Peter Pan), Tinker Bell (Peter Pan)
Lovely piano melodies are featured prominently in many of Aaron Zigman's pieces. He composed the score for one of the most iconic romance films of this age, The Notebook.
My favorite piece: Flight of Magorium (Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium)