Saturday, January 10, 2009

My Favorite Soundtracks

I recently made a short film from school and used the original score from the film Solaris and after screening it, someone said, "the music choice is perfect. How did you find it?" Now something you must know about me is that I love original scores and compilation soundtracks. I think that without them, every single movie ever made would become completely ordinary. They add an enormous amount of emotion and can completely change the mood of any film. I find that many people don't really like original scores but in this post, I will first list my top 10 favorite compilation soundtracks and then my top 10 favorite original scores, all along with a brief explanation. Each entry on the list is there because of how important they are to the over all mood of the film and it's enjoyment value outside of the film. Enjoy!


10. Stubbs the Zombie - Now even though this is a video game, the soundtrack is AWESOME! It's got a bunch of great bands including Death Cab for Cutie, The Flaming Lips, Rogue Wave, Ben Kweller and a bunch more all doing covers of songs from the 50's. Definitely worth buying.

9. High Fidelity - First of all, this movie is great and should be seen by every music fan and not to mention, every guy. The soundtrack has a lot of fun stuff but also a lot of emotion. There are some sad break up songs and some happy break up songs. It ranges all over the place and really comes together in a strong way.

8. The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou - This is the first of a few Wes Anderson soundtracks and although great, only comes in at number 8. The movie is a lot of fun and so is the soundtrack. It's got a good mix of various bands such as Iggy Pop, David Bowie, The Zombies and not to mention some great Bowie covers by Portuguese musician Seu Jroge.

7. I'm Not There - For a long time I didn't love Bob Dylan. I appreciated his work but couldn't really get into him until a little before this soundtrack came out. However great his music is, this CD really showed how great it could be in a totally different way. There are a lot of awesome bands on this album from Jeff Tweedy, Yo La Tengo and The Black Keys to Karen O, Sonic Youth and Stephen Malkmus. It's a lot of fun and really deep. Some artists really go somewhere new with their songs and some stay on a similar track as the original. The highlight for me is Marcus Carl Franklin, a 15 year old black kid who plays Bob Dylan in the film,doing a rendition of When the Ship Comes In.

6. Rushmore - The 2nd Wes Anderson soundtrack on the list and the first one I ever heard. There's a lot of happy peppy songs on here and like all of Anderson's films, they plays a key roll in the film. Mark Mothersbaugh's score is interspersed throughout the album and there are a lot of great old songs on here, my favorite being Ooh La La by the Faces.

5. The Pianist - For anyone who has seen the film, which is incredible, the music is something that really sticks out. Adrian Brody's characters does a phenomenal job bringing emotion to the movie but the music brings the mood. Each song chosen by director Roman Polanski himself is truly beautiful and powerful. Every time I listen to it, it makes me remember how heavy and deep the film is.

4.I Am Sam - I haven't seen this film since it first came out on DVD but it's a great film and again, the music plays a huge role in the plot. Each song is a cover of a Beatles song by many contemporary artists such as Ben Harper, Ben Folds, Eddie Vedder and tons more. It's a lot of fun to listen to even if you haven't seen the movie and brings a lot of new energy to old favorites.

3. Almost Famous - Anyone who has ever seen a Cameron Crowe movie always remembers the music and this film is all about the music. The film is incredible and the soundtrack is just as good. It's got a bunch of great classic rock songs and is packed with energy. The highlights of the album for me are America by Simon and Garfunkel and Sparks by The Who. The images in the film go along perfectly with the music and having the soundtrack is a great way to relive the film.

2. Garden Sate - This is a soundtrack that I think almost every single person has. It's awesome and really opened up the indie world to the mainstream. The songs are really fun, relaxing and fresh. It all goes very well together and the film does a great job of incorporating them. It's an awesome album and could possibly one of the best soundtracks of all time, not just for its music but also for its impact on the music world. One of my favorites is Don't Panic by Coldplay and New Slang by The Shins.

1. The Royal Tenenbaums - As well as my favorite soundtrack, this is also my favorite movie. It packs in a lot of great tunes and really takes you through a journey, the same way the film does. It's filled with great bands like the Ramones, the Clash, and the Velvet Underground but also has an awesome score by Mark Mothersbaugh. The most memorable songs from the movie and the soundtrack would have to be Needle in the Hay by Elliot Smith, Fly by Nick Drake and These Days by Nico. This is a Wes Anderson soundtrack at it's finest and should be owned by everyone.

Other Notable Compilations:

Blow, Children of Men, The Darjeeling Limited, Dazed and Confused, Easy Rider, Jerry Maguire, Little Miss Sunshine, Zodiac

10. Bottle Rocket - Bottle Rocket is Wes Anderson's first film and also a great one. It's a very playful, light and cool movie. Fun to watch and easily enjoyable. The soundtrack by Mark Mothersbaugh is not utilized very well throughout the film but is still pretty good. It's got some jazz on it and some very fun tracks that just make you happy, my favorite being 75 Year Plan. This is a pretty hard to find CD but if you're as a big a fan of Wes Anderson as I am, you wont want to miss this one.

9. Christmas on Mars - This is an awesome movie and I don't understand a minute of it. The film was a project by the Flaming Lips and was made over five years. It's a total trip and if you're a big Lips fan, you'll love it. The soundtrack really captures the weirdness of the film and is totally crazy! There is no singing on the entire CD, only sounds and mixed to be compatible with 5.1 surround sounds systems, this CD is sure to blow your mind.

8. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button - As I said before, this was one of my favorite films of the year. It was a truly touching and beautiful film. The images are put together like a work of art and flow brilliantly. Alexander Desplat's score is beautiful and haunting at times. It is very powerful, but not over emotional. It added a lot of feeling to the film and is a nice album to relax to. My only complaint is that there are audio clips from the film throughout the CD which is a little strange but I can deal.

7. MILK - I LOVED this film and I LOVE this soundtrack. I believe it to be one of Danny Elfman's best scores and is extremely moving. The songs move like a good opera and is just as powerful as one. The CD reminds me a lot of Harvey's character in the film. Sometimes very calm and loving but sometimes sad and overwhelmed by the world around him. My favorite tracks on the album is Main Theme and Harvey's Theme. This is a great score for anyone to buy and I highly recommend it as a first original score in anyone's collection.

6. Chelsea Walls - This movie, unfortunately, flew way below the radar when it came out in 2002. Ethan Hawkes directorial debut, the movie tells stories of various characters living in the famous Chelsea Hotel. It is a beautiful and poetic film and is something everyone should see at least once. The score is done by two of my favorite people in the world Wilco lead singer Jeff Tweedy and drummer Glenn Kotche (pronounced Kot-chee) and it is great! It is sometimes very haunting and eerie but sometimes very beautiful and calm. The soundtrack could stand alone without the film but the film really gives it meaning. There are also two songs on the album by actors Steve Zahn (yes that Steve Zahn) and Robert Sean Leonard, from house. One song is a cover of Wilco's Lonely One and the other is a little folk ditty. If you are a big Wilco fan, you will want to get this and I think after seeing the movie, everyone will want to buy it. Key tracks include The Wallman and Finale.

5. Solaris - Solaris is Steven Soderberg's remake of a 1970's Russian Sci-Fi film and is a beautiful masterpiece. The movie is presented like a delicate piece of art. Both haunting and human yet very distanced and alien. There is minimal dialogue in the film so you hear a lot of the soundtrack and it is exceptional. Cliff Martinez wrote a great score using mainly xylophones and various electronic sounds. The score goes perfectly with the film and is great to chill out to.

4. 2001: A Space Odyssey - Hands down, one of my favorite movies of all time. Anyone who has seen it knows exactly how great it is and it's immense beauty. The soundtrack utilizes a lot of sounds which goes perfectly with the tone of the film. At times the songs can get a little scary but it's all part of the film. Kubrick hand chose every song on this soundtrack and personally supervised the score. The original songs are great and perfect for any fan of the film. Songs such as Blue Danube Waltz and Also Sprach Zarathustra are used in very memorable moments in the film and are parts of some the greatest moments in cinematic history.

3. The Fountain - An Incredible film by prodigy director Darren Aronofsky. The film is a work of art to be marveled at. It is as inspiring as it is beautiful. Clint Mansell and Aronofsky have collaborated before on Requiem for a Dream, in which the score was a little less coherent. This album is extremely deep and powerful. The heavy strings really bring a ton of emotion to the film. This album is definitely worth buying.

2. Into the Wild - This is one of my favorite films to come out in the past few years. It is really truly, an excellent film from every single angle and Eddie Vedder's original soundtrack is nothing short of phenomenal. It is raw and powerful and an awesome album to listen to. It's got really upbeat and hard hitting tracks such as Hard Sun and very emotional songs such as Guaranteed. It rarely happens that an original soundtrack can really stand out alone as an album as well as go perfectly with the film. Everyone should own this album, I give it 5/5 stars and recommend everyone to see the film.

1. There Will Be Blood - This film was also one of my favorites to come out within the past few years. It is an absolute masterpiece and I think it will go down as one of the greatest films of the decade. This score was written by Radiohead guitarist, Johnny Greenwood as a solo project before the film was made. When he started to win all kinds of awards for his work, it attracted Paul Thomas Anderson's attention. P.T. Anderson then incorporated into his turn of the century, oil tycoon film, filled with dark and ominous themes. The score is perfect for the film and if you didn't know any better, you would think that Greenwood worked closely with Anderson to create a perfect accompaniment. The film is fantastic and the score is also great, however I do recommend seeing the film before buying the album, but this album is phenomenal from start to finish.

If you are a fan of older Scores, I highly recommend buy The Essential Hollywood, a compilation of memorable scores throughout film history.

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