Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Great Soundtrack Movies

So, I'm thinking this evening about movies that are as much about their soundtracks as they are about the stories they tell. I'm not satisfied with any of the lists I've found, because I'm not talking about musicals -- so, say, the Sound of Music doesn't qualify for my list. And movies that exist just as a vehicle for the music (sorry, George, you became an interesting filmmaker, but the Beatles movies don't qualify) are out. Of course, there are a lot of great soundtracks out there (like the Dark Knight), but unless the music and the plot interact, that's not what I'm after.

I'm trying to come up with my own list and here's what I've got so far. What am I missing?

• At the top of my list is the Big Chill. It has a gorgeous soundtrack that interacts with the plot and the characters in many beautiful ways. The "You Can't Always Get What You Want" scene is perhaps the best transition between action and audio I've ever seen/heard in a movie.

The Graduate. Technically, this doesn't really qualify, because the music and the plot just run side by side. But somehow, I think Paul Simon and Dustin Hoffman do manage to connect with each other in this film.

O Brother, Where Art Thou? What an amazing marriage of story and music.

Billy Elliot. Again, I may be breaking my own rules, but I can't imagine this incredibly beautiful movie, with the ballet and the strike and the riots, without the breathtaking industrial background music -- which does seem to penetrate into the lives of the characters at times.

High Fidelity. Perhaps the definition of what I'm talking about.

Dazed and Confused. This is also what I'm after, but maybe I'm biased, because this film almost perfectly frames my memories of high school.


Jill said...

The Big Chill is the best soundtrack EVER!! I love it. It is what I thought of immediately when I saw the title of this blog. You know what they say about great minds ;)

Emmie said...

Grosse Point Blank! AHEM.

Keera said...

Sometimes I'll see a movie where the music is an integral part of the experience, but I can't remember any off-hand. I don't really remember the music, anyway; I only remember if I was annoyed or not or if the score stood out in some way (for that reason, I bought the soundtrack to "Titanic").

I tend to notice (and enjoy) those movies that don't fill every moment with music of some kind. Lets me do my own thinking. Then, when the music does play, it has more meaning.

Oh, wait, remembered one: "True Stories" with music by Talking Heads. There's a soundtrack for ya, but you need to hear it in the movie where the actors perform the songs (including John Goodman, who has a terrific voice).

Lucy said...

The Piano (great music made up for the gratuitous naked Harvey Keitel scene)


Love Actually

Apocalypse Now ( for something completely different; but I never heard the Doors the same again)

Emmie said...

My case for Almost Famous:


Lucy said...

oo, oo - Spinal Tap!!

Sloms said...

Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid ..... Knockin' on Heaven's Door, and also some lesser known songs that underscore the story very well.

A Free Man said...

I'd like to second all of yours and add:

Almost Famous

The Big Lebowski

Juno (my latest favorite)


The Royal Tenenbaums

paige said...

I'm with Lucy: The Piano and Apocalypse Now would be at the top of my list. Also...Rushmore.

fletch said...

I'll throw my hat in with Apocalypse Now. The Sting was ok too.

alice said...

So many interesting suggestions -- including a few I haven't seen! Thanks for weighing in, everyone... my next stop is netflix...