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The Greatest Movie Soundtracks

Beki Kidwell



I had the pleasure of seeing Yann Tiersen live at Green Man Festival 2012, from which I left knowing that what I’d just seen was epic. The man is an incredible, beautiful violinist and a passionate score-writer. This means that French rom-com Amelie is way up there on my list as having one of the best movie soundtracks of all time. An abundance of instrumental, orchestral string pieces, it is a truly wonderful French film. Yann Tiersen succeeds in making each scene pounce from the screen with accordion, violin and viola-based pieces that leave you entranced even once the credits have stopped flowing.

Scott Pilgrim

Scott Pilgrim is a young musician stuck in a romantic rut between two women, one who claims to be his biggest fan and one whose hair changes colour just as fast as her mind. The thing I love about the movie soundtrack is its originality. Many of the tracks were written specifically for Scott Pilgrim’s fictional band, The Sex Bob-Ombs. Each original track offers bass-heavy tunes that completely knock you back with their coarseness and volume. These startling tracks are perfectly enveloped by indie rock classics, acoustic beauties and alternative oldies.

Into the Wild

A long-time fan of Pearl Jam, I was more than happy to find out that Eddie Vedder had written the score for Into the Wild. Firstly, I can’t say much about the film without bursting into a rant about how incredibly moving it is. Eddie mellows down with an acoustic guitar and a rough-n-ready backing band who know just how to make hillbilly rock sound poignant. Tracks such as Hard Sun, Far Behind and End of the Road are among my favourites.


Arguably my second favourite film of all time, the soundtrack to Shortbus is one of a kind. Its passion, sadness and radical motives make it one of the most beautiful, funny, meaningful and controversial films I’ve ever seen. The soundtrack, not indifferent to the film’s controversy, hosts songs by many artists known for their theatricality. Animal Collective’s Winter Bone is up there as my favourite of the bunch, while artists such as Azure Ray, Yo La Tengo, Gentleman Reg and Jay Brannan offer beautiful songs that move perfectly alongside the film’s leaps between happiness and utter misery.

Blue Crush

I’ve always had a high preference for reggae, but my life was hip-hop-less until the moment Blestenation and Playgroup came into it. Encased in remixes of N.E.R.D songs and tranquil night time tracks by Zero 7, the Blue Crush movie soundtrack both relaxes me and helps lighten my day when the rain comes.

Dirty Dancing

Let’s be honest, this HAD to be on here. I truly love the film, and I desperately loved the soundtrack. It’s filled with legendary tracks such as The Ronettes’ Be My Baby, The Contours with Do You Love Me and, of course, the dirtiest of the dancing tunes – Solomon Burke’s Cry to Me. Dirty Dancing is a rite of passage for all teenage girls (and many teenage boys) and the soundtrack helped me realise the beauty of dance music in an era where it wasn’t all drums and bass.

Darjeeling Ltd

Peter Starstedt’s classic Where Do You Go To My Lovely? and Joe Dassin’s Les Champs-Elysees became two of my favourite songs, all thanks to this stunning film showcasing three brothers’ journey through India to find their mother, directed by none other than the great Wes Anderson. I adore the changes between modern day rock and Indian tracks. One minute you’re watching them run for a train to The Kinks’ Powerman , while in the next, the death of a young boy creates a moment of reflection as the men take a bus journey while Typewriter Tip, Tip, Tip (from ‘Bombay Talkie’) by Asha Bhosle and Kishore Kumar plays upliftingly in the background.

O Brother Where Art Thou

In my opinion, one of the greatest Coen Brother’s films ever made– A Man of Constant Sorrow has fitted its way into the list as one of those ‘legendary’ sing-along songs.Keep on the Sunny Side and In the Highwaysare just two more stunningly created, original tracks for the film, which plays homage to true country music throughout.

The Graduate

Opening with Sound of Silence, I don’t think I’veever been more than one minute into this film without getting goose-bumps. With very fond personal memories of Simon & Garfunkel songs in my toddler years, I knew this was a film for me. The angelic vocals of Simon & Garfunkel, with their epic lyrics and intense musical thrill completely compliments this truly brilliant film and leaves the listener captivated.


These two have a duel place in the list, as I simply couldn’t pick between them. Though I thought Adventureland was good in places, it’s nowhere near as fantastic as the coming-of-age, teen feminist manifesto – Juno. This makes for a strange soundtrack conundrum. As much as I love Juno, I often find the soundtrack lacking. I’m a fan of The Moldy Peaches, but their ‘filler’ moments land on closed ears. Though, the soundtrack proves itself at times with epic tracks by Mott the Hoople and, notably, Sonic Youth’s cover of Superstar. On the other hand, Adventureland isn’t that great of a film, but the soundtrack is out of this world. The Cure, INXS, Bowie, Yo La Tengo, Crowded House and so many more renowned bands make this the soundtrack to listen to if you are in need of cheering up, impulsive dancing or a manic night in.

Eternal Sunshine

Taking the top position in this list as the best film and by far the best soundtrack, Michel Gondry’s Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is a piece of art. It had a huge effect on me from the first time it ended, and the soundtrack still sends shivers up my spine to this day. Jon Brion creates a magical score which dips in and out of scenes as the film develops. Electric Light Orchestra’s Mr Blue Sky offers a huge bonus to the soundtrack, along with artists such as Beck who reminds us all that Everybody’s Gotta Learn Sometimes.