Scores can make or break a movie. More than anything else, it’s the music that sets the emotional tone of the film. Generally, films with great soundtracks will also have good writing and acting, but not always. Some movies are mediocre overall but have amazing music.
Recently, Redditors got together on r/movies, the largest film subreddit, to discuss which soundtracks were better than the film itself. Their picks range from fantasy blockbusters to indie rom-coms, sports dramas, to videogame adaptations. These selections include several terrific OSTs to add to your playlist.
10 ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’ (2012)
An Unexpected Journey received mixed reviews, with many criticizing its length and pacing. However, one aspect of the film that was widely praised was its music, composed by Howard Shore. The score features themes and motifs from Shore’s previous work on The Lord of the Rings trilogy, creating a sense of continuity between the two film series.
The soundtrack also includes original songs performed by the characters, such as “Misty Mountains” and “Blunt the Knives,” adding some more depth to the world-building. “The movies were a huge letdown but I listened to the music on its own and was blown away,” said the user Cyanwraith. Fellow user ohhgreatheavens agreed, saying, “‘Misty Mountains’ goes hard.”
9 ‘Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire’ (2005)
The fourth Harry Potter sees the boy wizard competing in the Triwizard Tournament, a dangerous magical competition between the three largest wizarding schools. The film has a darker tone and more mature themes than the previous three. Reflecting this, the soundtrack, composed by Patrick Doyle, mixes haunting melodies and exciting action cues. It also features entertaining performances by artists like Jarvis Cocker and the Weird Sisters, a fictional band within the Harry Potter universe.
“Goblet of Fire soundtrack is my jam,” said the Redditor various-Salt488. “I’ll get massacred for this but Harry Potter,” the user shaunika agreed. “The films are mostly ok/good (except 6) but the music is phenomenal.” “It’s one of the few great scores for me that weren’t done by Morricone,” added user DickieGreanleaf84.
8 Babylon (2022)
This period film about early Hollywood was one of the most disappointing projects of 2022, with many viewers complaining that neither the cast nor the director lived up to their previous work. However, the score composed by frequent Damien Chazelle collaborator Justin Hurwitz is excellent, rightfully earning an Oscar nomination.
“Score of the decade totally wasted on a poorly directed/written film. Also a waste of a great cast and arguably the most exciting time in Hollywood history,” said user abb10134. “I can’t believe Hurwitz didn’t get the Oscar.”
7 ‘The Last of the Mohicans’ (1992)
This historical epic, directed by Michael Mann, follows Hawkeye (Daniel Day-Lewis), a white man adopted by the Mohican tribe, as he fights alongside them during the French and Indian War. The soundtrack, composed by Trevor Jones and Randy Edelman, features soaring orchestral pieces, traditional Native American chants and drumming, and Irish-inspired folk music, all blending together to create something wholly original.
“Don’t get me wrong, I thought the movie was good, but I also thought the pacing was a bit slow at times. But the music was off the chain,” said user cen-texan. “An absolutely amazing score that hit at the right moments and really elevated this movie.”
6 ‘Drive’ (2011)
Drive is a neo-noir crime film directed by Nicolas Winding Refn and starring Ryan Gosling as a Hollywood stunt driver who moonlights as a getaway driver for criminals. The score by Cliff Martinez features electronic and synth-pop elements, reflecting the film’s 80s-inspired aesthetic.
The soundtrack also includes several popular songs, such as “A Real Hero” by College and “Nightcall” by Kavinsky, which have practically become synonymous with the film. “The music is a huge part of why the movie works, but I love the movie in general,” said Redditor tinyok. “I also love the movie,” added user goldjack. “But I love the soundtrack so much more.”
5 ‘Garden State’ (2004)
Garden State is a romantic comedy-drama directed by Zach Braff. He also stars as Andrew Largeman, a struggling actor who returns to his hometown in New Jersey to attend his mother’s funeral. It’s a heartfelt project about quirky and idiosyncratic characters trying to find their place in the world.
“Did you know Zach Braff got the green light for Garden State based off the soundtrack alone?” said user ThroatWMangrove. “He just pitched a rough idea for the movie, said ‘Here’s the music!’, and the studio gave it a thumbs up.”
4 Game of Death (1978)
Game of Death is a martial arts film starring the legendary Bruce Lee. Although Lee died before the movie was completed, it was released posthumously with his remaining footage being edited in. It tells the story of a movie star recruited by a crime syndicate to infiltrate and take down a drug lord.
The soundtrack features a mix of traditional Chinese music and modern funk and disco tracks. The music is perfectly in tune with the action on the screen and helps to build tension during the fight scenes. “The film is absolute garbage aside from the actual footage with Bruce Lee. However, the score by John Barry is great. It’s like a lost Bond film score,” said Redditor LoveGun77.
3 ‘Chariots of Fire’ (1981)
Chariots of Fire tells the story of two athletes who compete in the 1924 Olympics in Paris. It was directed by Hugh Hudson and featured an all-star cast of its era, including Ben Cross, Ian Charleson, and Ian Holm. The iconic theme music, composed by Vangelis, is one of the most recognizable pieces of movie music of all time.
The combination of Vangelis’s haunting electronic score and the use of classical music, including pieces by Bach and Handel, creates a unique and memorable atmosphere. “Nobody gives a sh*t about that film these days, but there’s not a single living soul who haven’t heard the main theme,” said the user eidbio. “Abe’s theme might be even better for me. Great soundtrack,” said the user ohhgreatheavens.
2 ‘Mortal Kombat: Annihilation’ (1997)
This video game adaptation follows a group of warriors who must defeat an evil warlord and his minions to save the world. Unfortunately, Mortal Kombat: Annihilation marked a low point for the franchise due to its poor special effects, weak storyline, and atrocious acting.
The soundtrack, however, was a bright spot for the movie. It includes popular rock and techno tracks from artists like KMFDM, Megadeth, and Juno Reactor. “[The] movie sucks harder than a black hole,” said Redditor TheVyper3377. “The soundtrack is amazing, though.”
1 ‘Dan in Real Life’ (2007)
Steve Carell and Juliette Binoche star in this romantic comedy-drama about a widower and advice columnist trying to navigate the complexities of love and family during a weekend reunion. The film was praised for its heartfelt performances, charming humor, and relatable story.
The soundtrack, composed by Sondre Lerche, is also noteworthy, featuring a mix of pop and folk-inspired tracks that capture the film’s tender and whimsical mood. Lerche’s music is catchy and soulful, with his sweet, melodic voice adding an extra layer of emotion to the film’s poignant moments. The standout track is “Modern Nature,” a melancholic ballad that plays during the climax. “The movie is great… but the soundtrack/score by Sondre Lerche is a masterpiece,” said the user Miryo93.
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