The music in a movie tells us when to be extra suspicious of that dodgy-looking character hanging around the princess or to be panicked that the surfer dude is about to be Jaws’ entrée. A great soundtrack, be it a classical baroque score or tasteful 60s melodies, can sweep us off our feet. It provides an escape route from this locked-down reality into a movie’s (sometimes very strange, but hopefully entertaining) plot and characters, that it’s hard not to become too invested in, no matter how ridiculous the plot may seem.
Take, for example, Ratatouille’s Parisian street rat who possesses a cooking dream and a gangly ginger man friend: Remi has me emotionally invested in minutes due to Michael Giacchino’s heartfelt score.
So, here are my top 10 movies with soundtracks to help escape the lockdown blues in 2021:
- Guardians of the Galaxy
Guardians of the Galaxy’s uses both an original score by Tyler Bates and a soundtrack full of hit songs from the 1960s and 70s. Titled Guardians of the Galaxy: Awesome Mix Vol. 1, this album consists of a mixtape left to the now outerspace-dwelling (and very handsome) Peter Quill, played by Chris Pratt, by his mother.
Using classic songs, such as the bassy Hooked on a Feeling by Blue Swede, Ain’t No Mountain High Enough by Marvin Gaye and Come and Get Your Love by Redbone, the music draws you into this hilarious light-hearted action movie, featuring a feisty raccoon, a lovable tree creature whose only line for some reason is “I am Groot”, and, of course, Peter Quill who bops around to his mixtapes in outer space, trying to make extraterrestrials call him “Star Lord”.
This funky album soundtrack topped the US Billboard 200 chart in 2014 and was #1 for 11 weeks in a row on Billboard’s Top Soundtracks. And, for good reason: it guarantees a feel-good factor and, combined with original characters, this movie is definitely a good escape from lockdown blues.
“I Got A Woman”, “Georgia On My Mind”, and “Hallelujah I Love Her So”, songs written and
recorded by Ray Charles himself, tell the story of this influential, blind jazz musician’s life in this 2004 film, Ray. Starring Jamie Fox, this movie is a great escapism if you like jazz and biographical movies.
3. La La Land
Released in 2016, this colourful musical sweeps you off to orange-pink sunsets by the pier with Ryan Gosling and a love story floating on the dreams of two young artists in LA. The jazz-infused score and songs for this film were written by Justin Hurwitz and lyrics composed by Justin Paul and Benj Pasek. John Legend, who also features in this music-centred movie, also wrote and performed one of the songs, titled “Start a Fire”.
In 2017, La La Land won an Academy Award for the Best Original Score, and one of its main songs “City of Stars” won the Best Original Song. This musical movie will leave you searching Spotify for the album and humming “Ci-ty of stars/Are you shining just for me” for weeks.
The very bizarre, but meme-ridden family movie, Shrek, is full of comedic genius and uses a green ogre, a talking donkey (voiced by Eddie Murphy) and a sassy sleeping princess (brought to life by Cameron Diaz) to tell an unconventional fairytale, fuelled by excellent tunes the whole way through. The catchy soundtrack includes “I’m a Believer” and “All Star” performed by Smash Mouth, and “Hallelujah” performed by Rufus Wainwright. Fairytales always have a happy ending, and Shrek’s comes with a twist and great music, so this movie will definitely tackle the blues.
5. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
Set in the 1980s, this John Hughes film follows an ingenious teenage rascal who skips school, steals the prized red convertible belonging to his best friend’s dad, and heads to the city for some carpe diem with his two favourite people. Films made by John Hughes usually have excellent soundtracks and Ferris Bueller does not disappoint with upbeat songs like “Twist and Shout” by The Beatles and humorous scenes laced with “Danke Schoen” by Wayne Newton.
6. The Silver Linings Playbook
This heartfelt funny movie, based on a novel by Matthew Quick, follows the recovery of a man recently discharged from a psychiatric institution and a grieving woman. It sounds like it really shouldn’t be an uplifting, hilarious movie, but this romcom, starring Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence, is the only movie love story I have seen whose funny blunt characters say exactly what they think, ballroom dance, and also shout at each other about football, all along to tunes composed by the wonderful Danny Elfman (the writer of The Simpsons theme tune to name one), Alabama Shakes, and Stevie Wonder.
7. Bohemian Rhapsody
Inspired by the rise to fame of the global rock band, Queen, and the rollercoaster story of the extraordinary Freddie Mercury, Bohemian Rhapsody is chock full of energy, excellent costumes, and Queen songs that will have you belting out “I want to break freeeee” alone in your living room.
8. Spider-man: Into the Spider-verse
This 2018 animated superhero movie, set in Brooklyn, New York, features a class hip hop/ pop soundtrack written for and inspired by the film and an original score by Daniel Pemberton. Songs include “Sunflower” by Post Malone and Swae Lee and “Familia” by Nicki Minaj and Anuel AA, featuring Bantu. Combined with the slow-frame, funky-coloured animation style, this movie music will have you glued to the screen the whole time.
9. Ocean’s Eleven
A remake of the 1960 film, Ocean’s Eleven (2001). with its dastardly plot, witty lines, and star-studded cast, including George Clooney, Brad Pitt, and Matt Damon, would be nothing without its dynamic, vibrant soundtrack. Comprising David Holmes’ instrumental compositions and of well-known music like Debussy’s “Clair de Lune” and Perry Como’s “Papa Loves Mambo”, the quick-changing moods of the film, from conspiratorial to lovestruck to in awe, are reflected seamlessly by the snazzy soundtrack.
Ratatouille’s original score by Michael Giacchino is what makes this film so addictive and some of the
best movie music I’ve ever heard. A movie about tastes and cooking the instrumentals combined with clever Pixar animation really makes the audience imagine how Remi the Rat tastes the cheese and the grapes. It sounds crazy, but, if you watch the film, the softly-lit Parisian kitchens and streets and the Eiffel Tower sparkling at night to orchestral music makes you feel like you’re on holidays. It’s the perfect escape from a January lockdown!