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

9. Pain & Gain

Who could make thieving muscle head gym rats sound sympathetic and tough? Apparently the answer was Steve Jablonsky. His score for Pain & Gain was more than just a pulse-pounding beat behind the action, he created music that elevated what was happening on screen and brought real emotion to what could have been a ridiculous (albeit true) story. Pain & Gain did not just tell the story of three guys who had seen too many action movies and had dollar signs in their eyes, it took you inside the lives of three complicated men who could rule at the gym, but wanted to prove they could do more with tracks like “I Believe In Fitness” embodying that hope while tracks like “Run Him Over” still keep up the action. 


8. Sound City


Dave Grohl is known for making good music so it’s no surprise his directorial debut, Sound City, features a rocking soundtrack. The film celebrates the famed studio by filling the narrative with the famous songs that were recorded there and having renowned artists come back together to record new ones. From Rick Springfield to Fleetwood Mac to Grohl’s other famous band (Nirvana), Sound City gives their hits new life by explaining how the studio helped launch their careers and creates an electric journey through this period in music history. But the soundtrack is more than just a tribute album, it is proof that while the studio may be gone, the Neve board and the sound it created lives on.


7. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty


Of Monsters and Men‘s “Dirty Paws” introduced the world of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty in the film’s trailer and the film’s full soundtrack continues that uplifting feeling with songs from José González and Rouge Wave. Walter (Ben Stiller) lives in a fantasy world and that feeling of being connected to reality while still being slightly removed from it is reflected in the soundtrack with artists like Jack Johnson singing “Escape (The Pina Colada Song),” Bahamas with The Weather Station singing a stripped down version of “You Don’t Want Me,” and Grace Mitchell singing “Maneater” plus David Bowie singing “Space Oddity” along with Kristin Wiig.

These new versions are fun and quirky, much like Walter himself (or at least the version he fancies himself to be), and they create a soundtrack that is emotionally connective without being too serious. Most importantly, it is a compilation that you will have no problem leaving on a loop.


6. Dallas Buyers Club


Ron Woodroof (McConaughey) is a character who is larger than life (even when life tries to take him down a notch) and the music to accompany the story of such a man also has to sound large. While Dallas Buyers Club is set in 1985, the soundtrack is full of current artists such as The Airborne Toxic EventThe Naked and FamousAWOLNATION, and Thirty Seconds to Mars that bring a palpable energy that will have you tapping your feet as you cheer Ron on. Capital Cities brings an ’80s vibe to the Bee Gee‘s ’70s tune “Stayin’ Alive” which grounds the song in the time period of Dallas Buyers Club while working as a sly nod to exactly what Ron is trying to do (and help others do) – stay alive.

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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