The Best Movie Soundtracks

Aoife Mawn gives us her picks for the greatest movie soundtracks of all time.

A soundtrack can make or break a movie. Get them right and we can never hear the songs again without thinking of the scenes they accompanied. The right song playing over a scene can totally change it’s dynamic; it can make a dull scene exciting or a tense scene even more stressful. We could spend this whole article talking about Quentin Tarantino alone, but for time purposes, let’s take a quick look at some others. 

Having the right soundtrack can set a tone for the whole movie, like John Hughes’ 1985 teen hit The Breakfast Club. Full of 80’s anthems that our protagonists would surely have been listening to themselves, it is an immersive experience to watch them listen and act around the iconic soundtrack. From dancing in the library to the famous end scene, it is hard to not feel like you’re there with them, even 35 years later. 

In a similar vein, the 1995 cult classic Empire Records, based on the teen protagonists attempting to save their beloved record store, has the same immersive, encompassing feel. The songs are embedded into the movie, in a way that never feels forced or false. With the record store as a backdrop, it makes the cast singing along to the soundtrack seem easy and seamless. 

Baby Driver (2017), aside from the now uncomfortable Kevin Spacey role, has one of the best soundtracks of the last two decades. Director Edgar Wright syncs cinematography with the accompanying music in an aural and visual dream, and the heavily soul and blues influenced album featuring Carla Thomas, Sam and Dave and Martha and the Vandellas makes it a soundtrack everyone should own. 

As mentioned previously, we can’t talk about soundtracks without talking about Tarantino. A master of his craft, he always selects the perfect musical accompaniments; we could pick any of his films and hold up it’s soundtrack as the best in its field. However, the one that stands out most to me is the impeccable selection of songs in Reservoir Dogs (1992). If you are going to purchase one soundtrack vinyl, make it this one. Blending in old style smooth radio snippets with 60’s and 70’s hits such as ‘Little Green Bag’ and ‘Stuck in the Middle with You’, it is, in my opinion, the best movie soundtrack out there. 

Honourable mentions: Clueless, Pulp Fiction, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Commitments, Quadrophenia, Trainspotting and of course, the G.O.A.T, Shrek (1 or 2).