Music in movies is just a lot of instrumentation and/or vocals that only aid in making a scene more happy-go-lucky, upsetting, or suspenseful, right? Well, not really. Only the best composers and music compilers are able to elicit any kind of legitimate emotion through their music. Some soundtracks even help the movie become the classic that it is. Imagine “Jurassic Park” without the sweeping, inspirational title theme that was masterly crafted by John Williams. Wouldn’t the movie be ridiculously different if the music was instead something big and booming a la Hans Zimmer for “Inception”? The music is important. And here are my favourite movie soundtracks where the movie wouldn’t be the same without the music.
5. “Little Miss Sunshine” (2006, Original Music by: Mychael Danna and DeVotchKa)
This boppy but heartfelt soundtrack embodies the tonal balance of “Little Miss Sunshine.” It’s sweet and heartfelt while also being a bit fun. With songs by indie king Sufjan Stevens included, this soundtrack is also hip and cool. The feeling of this movie being cross generational – where everyone can enjoy it – is mirrored in the hip people in charge of creating this soundtrack. There are no song selections that would alienate family members who aren’t privy to the coolest thing in music. The soundtrack is non-threatening which reflects the movie itself. It even helps solidify the movie’s dark family-comedy tone.
4. “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl” (2003, Original Music by: Klaus Badelt)
I’m only listing the first movie because it’s definitely the best of them all. The title theme remains the same throughout the movie series and there are some variations in tone throughout the movies as well, but I personally find “The Curse of the Black Pearl” to be the best “Pirates” movie. The big, orchestra sound emitted through Badelt’s work is something epic and something that definitely makes one think of the sea and fighting battles and heroes (or anti-heroes). The quieter, more fun moments are laden with folk-y, string-y sounds that embody a time period unlike our own. It’s a masterpiece, and it helps immerse you into this epic other-world of pirates, the undead, and fighting skeletons that come out in moonlight.
3. “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s (Sorcerer’s) Stone” (2001, Original Music by: John Williams)
While all of the “Harry Potter” films have fantastic soundtracks, the first movie is the first peek into the Potter universe brought to life. Williams creates music that emulates a magical, supernatural feeling in such a natural way that it seems impossible that any other music could ever accompany the “Harry Potter” universe. There are moments of revelation, fun, and suspicion that are heightened by the genius Williams superb soundtrack. The movie just wouldn’t be the same without his musical creations.
2. “Jurassic Park” (1993, Original Music by: John Williams)
Here Williams is again, creating one of the most widely adored title themes ever. It’s as much a part of the movie as the dinosaurs are. Without Williams’ touch, I don’t think this movie would have the same impact. It yields a sense of fun, adventure, and danger masterfully. Since I had to choose between “Jurassic Park” and the “Indiana Jones” movies, I would also like to give props here to the man that also gave the “Indy” movies the sense of crazy adventure he did with a soundtrack that also defines the movies. Williams is definitely one of the best composers working today.
1. “Requiem for a Dream” (2000, Original Music by: Clint Mansell)
Clint Mansell composed and the Kronos Quartet performed one of the most recognizable epic title tracks in movie history. Everyone who hears it knows they have definitely heard it before. It has even been used to promote other movies (after a full orchestra was included), such as “The Lord of the Rings.” But the song, “Lux Aeterna” had its inception with “Requiem.” The soundtrack mirrors the main characters in their literal highs and lows. The groovy beats reflect a time of fun and prosper, but ultimately, the title track gives off a sense of impending and inevitable epic misfortune and doom. It’s heart-breakingly beautiful and definitely aids in making the movie as deeply resonating as it is.