In the midst of the Midwestern winter most of us are experiencing, it doesn’t seem uncommon for weekends and days off to be spent inside binging Netflix. I have definitely been finding myself staying in for movie nights way more often, and I’ve found myself more intrigued by scores and soundtracks than usual. It started when I saw the A24 movie, “Waves,“ in theatres this past December.
1. “Waves” (2019)
The soundtrack to Waves stood out to me because it’s filled with all of my favorite artists across several genres; from Tame Impala to Tyler, the Creator, and SZA, to legends such as Amy Winehouse, Radiohead, and beyond. The plot of this movie is extremely intense and follows the lives of several high schoolers (I really can’t go beyond that without spoilers, but trust me.. watch this movie.) The way that the songs are embedded into the lives of the characters was really special to watch because I’d argue that a lot of current high schoolers are listening to these artists (Frank Ocean, Chance the Rapper, Kid Cudi, Kendrick Lamar, Kanye West, etc.). Overall, I have never sat down to watch a movie and heard my own taste in music played consistently from start to finish, which is why this soundtrack had to be #1 for me.
2. “Call Me By Your Name” (2017)
Anyone who considers themselves a fan of this movie has definitely cried to this soundtrack before.. on multiple occasions. The soundtrack is a mix of the original Sufjan Stevens songs written for the film “Mystery of Love” and “Visions of Gideon,” Italian classical music, which scenes of Northern Italy are beautifully set to, and ’80s synth dance-pop. Every time I listen to anything from this soundtrack, I am immediately taken back the film, and can so vividly recall the scenes of the two main characters, Elio (Timothée Chalamet) and Oliver (Armie Hammer), biking through Italy. This soundtrack has the ability to transport you into the film, and the original songs by Sufjan Stevens blend in perfectly with the score for the film as well as the storyline.
3. “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” (2012)
Set in 1992, and following socially awkward underdog high schooler, Charlie (Logan Lerman), this soundtrack is comprised mostly of ‘80s music and earlier, with a few more recent songs blended in. Highlights include The Cure, Fleetwood Mac, Queen, David Bowie, and more. In the Homecoming dance scene, the supporting characters dance their ‘living room routine’ to “Come on Eileen” by Dexy’s Midnight Runners, as Charlie approaches the dance floor during the build-up of the bridge before the final chorus. You can feel the intensity of Charlie’s anxiety throughout the scene and then the release occurs when he finally joins them in dancing. Overall, the soundtrack feels very nostalgic and cohesive, and I’d definitely recommend this movie to anyone.
4. “(500) Days of Summer” (2009)
This movie has a special place in my heart, and part of that is due to its soundtrack. This is a romance film at its core. The main character, Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), falls head over heels for coworker Summer (Zooey Deschanel). When Tom meets Summer, she is listening to The Smiths, so some of the soundtrack consists of their music, as well as other throwback music (Hall & Oates, “Sweet Disposition” by The Temper Trap, Simon & Garfunkel.) The throwbacks are accompanied by softer singer-songwriter artists like Regina Spektor, Feist, and Deschanel’s own band, She & Him. Overall, this is a very emotional movie, with a unique and well-curated soundtrack to accompany it.
5. “Ladybird” (2017)
I had to put Ladybird’s soundtrack on this list, as it is my favorite movie of all time. I found that one unique feature of the soundtrack, at least on Spotify, is the sound bytes of some of the characters’ dialogue is sprinkled in between songs. I found that really interesting and would love to figure out the significance between the dialogue that was chosen and why. The film follows Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson (Saoirse Ronan) through her senior year at a private Catholic high school, through her first relationships, and ultimately her moving out of her home of Sacramento for college. It takes place in the early ‘00s, so some music (Alanis Morisette and Dave Matthews Band) is definitely timely, but there are also some ’70s folk rock, Catholic choir music, and instrumentals. Overall, the music ties to this film perfectly, and I would urge everyone to watch the movie.