Year in Review: The 13 Best Movie Scores and Soundtracks of 2013


This year brought moviegoers an array of music that ranged from uplifting (About Time “How Long Will I Love You”) to depressing (The Great Gatsby‘s “Young and Beautiful”) to catchy (Inside Llewyn Davis‘ “Please Mr. Kennedy”) to nostalgic (Saving Mr. Banks‘ “Let’s Go Fly a Kite”) to just plain out there (Spring Breakers‘ “Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites”). Whether it was a film about throwing (or attending) the best party of your life or one about intense family drama, the music pushed stories to new heights, whether it was an Alien rapping on the beach or two mothers pushing their children to the breaking point.

Film music is no longer just orchestration and catchy pop songs – it is dubstep and bands you would normally hear on the radio taking to the conductor’s stand. Simply put – it is an exciting time for music in film because there are no rules.

Now it’s time to relive some of the best music moments from this past year with scores from composers new to the scene and those continuing to churn out groundbreaking music, as well as soundtracks that featured songs from bands and artists who discovered new talents while collaborating.

13. Saving Mr. Banks


As is standard with any Disney film, Mary Poppins is full of music you can sing along to, and anyone who grew up with this Disney classic should be taken right back to their childhood when these songs strike up. Saving Mr. Banks takes audiences behind the scenes of the making of Mary Poppins, but it is the scenes featuring Mary Poppins author P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson), screenwriter Don DaGradi (Bradley Whitford), and composers Richard Sherman (Jason Schwartzman) and Robert Sherman (B.J. Novak) creating this music that shine, giving these iconic songs even more meaning.

Composer Thomas Newman rounds things out with a score that helps tie together these catchy tunes with the conflicted emotions Travers had bringing her story to the big screen to create a nostalgia driven compilation that should also stand the test of time.


12. About Time


Richard Curtis knows how to put together a great soundtrack, and he proves that fact once again with the soundtrack for About Time. Tim (Domhnall Gleeson) is a man who can bounce around the timeline of his life and Curtis wisely uses recognizable music to help subtly place the time period  he has landed in. But the music is not merely a story device, it rounds out the narrative to make Tim and Mary (Rachel McAdams) feel like real people who listen to the radio and comment about music in every day conversation.

The soundtrack itself is a great mix of artists from Ben Folds to The Cure to Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds that never feel forced within the context of the film and work together as a fantastic playlist when listening to the soundtrack on its own.


11. Mud

The mystery of Mud (Matthew McConaughey) was delivered thanks in large part to the magical score created by David Wingo and Lucero. But the music of Mud was not just eerie thanks to the down-home, southern grit filled tunes from Dirty Three and Ben Nichols. Magical score and gritty songs do not sound like they would work together, but just as Mud and Ellis (Tye Sheridan) make unlikely friends, these different styles combined to create a distinctive sound that highlighted two people struggling against the forces around them in the rural south. Where Wingo and Lucero create the feeling that Mud could be a beacon of hope for Ellis, the placed tracks work to present the counter point that Mud may not be the man he says he is.


10. The Great Gatsby

A little party never hurt nobody, right? While The Great Gatsby may have proved this sentiment is not always true, Fergie, Q-Tip, and GoonRock‘s song was one of the catchiest tunes to come out of theaters this year. Despite having director Baz Luhrmann at the helm and Jay-Z producing the soundtrack, the music within the film did not always hit the right notes, but the soundtrack stands as one of this year’s best compilations.
Current artists embodying the feeling of the 1920s gave us new tracks like Lana Del Rey‘s “Young and Beautiful,” Jack White‘s “Love Is Blindness,” and Florence + The Machine‘s “Over the Love (Of You)” that are sure to become classics. Jay Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio) was known for throwing epic parties and this soundtrack definitely reflected that while also including enough sorrowful ballads to keep the tragic nature of Gatsby ever present.

Allison has always been fascinated by the power music has when paired with an image – particularly its effect in film. Thanks to a background in recording and her days spent licensing music to various productions (including, of course, movies), Allison can usually be found sticking around to see all the songs noted in a film’s credits and those listening to her iTunes inevitably ask, “What movie is this song from?”

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