I noticed that it didn’t say score, which is good because that is a whole different ballgame. When I hear the word soundtrack, I think more of popular songs used in films rather that music specifically crafted for the movie itself (which removes most musicals like Grease from this list). Soundtracks feel like a director’s mixtape made just for me. Plus, I don’t feel like arguing the merits of The Sound of Music vs. West Side Story. Plus, I think music is just as subjective and arbitrary as film and is a completely different argument.
1. A Hard Day’s Night (1964)
Director: Richard Lester
It’s the Beatles. Do I need any other argument? I say nay.
2. Grosse Pointe Blank (1997)
Director: George Armitage
The movie itself features more great songs than Dazed and Confused and Joe Strummer did the score. Featuring The Clash, Pixies, Motorhead, Echo & the Bunnymen, The Cure, and more, this was the first movie that popped into my head. I just put Hard Day’s Night up top to establish cred. Which I have now destroyed. Hooray.
3. Pulp Fiction (1994)
Director: Quentin Tarantino
I can’t really dry-hump Tarantino any more than I currently do, but you can’t really argue with me that this soundtrack isn’t amazing. From the time you hear Dick Dale and that speed-surfer style he has, you immediately know what movie you’re watching, even if you aren’t looking at the screen or even in the room. That’s saying something powerful. And ANY movie with “Son of a Preacher Man” by Dusty Springfield and “Let’s Stay Together” by Al Green in it has to make my list. It just has to. And I love that Chuck Berry song that he uses during the dance scene with Admiral Ackbar & Tony Monnero. That scene alone is iconic enough to qualify this soundtrack as one of the best ever.
Honorable Mention: Dazed & Confused, Trainspotting, South Park, O’ Brother Where Art Thou, The Big Lebowski, Do the Right Thing, Rushmore, Garden State, Above the Rim