5 Great Modern Movie Soundtracks
Begin Again – the latest from John Carney – releases this weekend before it expands in the coming weeks. I only know Carney’s name because he directed the fabulous musical rom-com Once (stay tuned for more on my love for this movie). In that movie, as well as many others, music is an integral part of the story’s plot and overall effectiveness.
Music and movies have gone hand-in-hand for quite some time. It is not a groundbreaking statement to say good movies have good soundtracks. However, the majority of movies focus on a film score rather than a soundtrack full of songs from various artists. It is the latter that this post will focus on (sorry The Social Network and Inception). I’m hoping Begin Again can continue the trend of great soundtracks.
Since I am much more versed in newer movies, I’ve decided to focus on the last 15 years and narrow it down from there. That obviously eliminates some of the more well-known film soundtracks.
The following is what I came up with:
Edgar Wright’s (The World’s End) Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is a truly unique movie. Just like how he fully incorporates the comic book style into the movie, Wright also integrates the music into the plot. In fact, without the music, this story would be significantly different. Some of the songs are by a fictional band (with my favorite song being “We Are Sex Bob-Omb” by Sex Bomb-Omb), but there are also songs by Beck (who did the Sex Bom-Omb stuff), The Rolling Stones, The Black Lips, Metric, and Broken Social Scene. Just like the movie is a must-see, the soundtrack is a must-hear.
From the opening track (which opens the movie) to She & Him’s (which features co-star Zooey Deschanel) “Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want,” (500) Days of Summer has a perfectly constructed soundtrack. There are so many highlights in between, including all of Regina Spektor’s contributions and Mumm-Ra’s “She’s Got You High.” However, the song everyone likely remembers involves a great dance sequence to “You Make My Dreams Come True” by Hall & Oates. This is just proof that every song is perfectly placed.
Juno’s soundtrack is very similar to (500) Days of Summer. Both movies are off-beat rom-coms that help them stick out from the pack. When it comes to music, both pick and choose when to use music and how to use the songs effectively. The bests from Juno, in my opinion, are “All I Want Is You” (by Barry Louis Polisar), “A Well Respected Man” (by The Kinks), and pretty much anything by Kimya Dawson. Even stars Ellen Page and Michael Cera lend themselves to the soundtrack (which has a corresponding great scene). I can’t imagine Juno being any good with a different soundtrack.
I already mentioned Once in the intro to this list, but it really deserves its own section. Of the five movies featured today, Once is the closest to be a musical (but for some reason, I still don’t categorize it that way). Once has morphed into a weird cult classic. Not a lot of people have heard of it, but those that have love it to death. The soundtrack features songs by The Swell Season (comprised of the two stars of the film, Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova) with each and every song being fantastic. “Falling Slowly” is the song everyone likely has heard from the soundtrack, but “Leave” and “Say It To Me Know” are also standouts. Of course, the reason this movie works so well is because the singers are actually performing the songs live and there is an undeniable chemistry between the two singer stars.
There is no way to look up best soundtracks without coming across the Coen Brothers’ O Brother, Where Art Thou? The movie parallels Homer’s “The Odyssey” in a way that makes the film already noteworthy; however, the music catapults it up into one of the greatest movies of the past 15 years (in my opinion). A main plot point in the movie involves the folk rock group the Soggy Bottom Boys (which has a connection to “The Odyssey”) so their song “I Am A Man of Constant Sorrow” is definitely notable. This song shouldn’t take-away from others that clearly work, like “Down By The River to Pray” by Alison Krauss (a nod to the Sirens) and “Big Rock Candy Mountain” by Harry McClintock. The music is as good as the movie is funny, and that is evident by the soundtrack’s respective performance in the various U.S. Billboard charts. If you thought Inside Llewyn Davis had a great soundtrack, check this one out now.
Go ahead and check these movies out before Begin Again releases this weekend!
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