Music plays an integral role in film. Easily ignored, easily forgotten, a film’s soundtrack is the little celebrated framework of cinema. But when sound and sight marry into a great scene, you get some of the best moments. Like in 2013, 2014 had a wide array of music. From 70s rock, to dance pop, to Euro trance, jazz, quirky originals, and even a few oddballs.
To earn a spot on this list a film’s got to have a scene that uses its soundtrack so well, I remember it weeks or even months after I’ve seen it. So let’s get to it then, yeah.
Here are my picks for The Top 10 Movie Music Moments of 2014.
Honorable Mentions: Birdman – Flight scene, Snowpiercer – “What happens if the engine stops?,” The Skeleton Twins – “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now,” 22 Jump Street – “Ass-n-Titties,” Into the Woods – “Agony”
10. The Hunger Games Mockingjay – Part 1 – “The Hanging Tree” as performed by Jennifer Lawrence
Every year there seems to be a song that’s meant to break into mainstream pop. Usually by happenstance, or some kind of weird popularity spike, and “The Hanging Tree” is 2014’s single. Written by the Lumineers (with influence from the original text), and given an odd dance backing so it can be played on the radio, this moment may have been forced but it did show off the first actual rebellion against the Capitol. Like other parts of Mockingjay – Part 1, the scene finally opens up the world beyond Katniss and her compatriots.
9. The Lego Movie – “Everything is Awesome/(Untitled) Self Portrait”
“Everything is awesome, everything is cool when your part of a team” was 2014’s “Let It Go.” There’s a dollar theater in my town next to the local grocery, and when I first heard a little girl singing that song, I knew we had a winner. The scene it’s used in doesn’t hit perfect status until the “12 Hours Later” bit but it’s still very good. Even better? Batman’s demo tape, “DARKNESS! NO PARENTS!”
8. Guardians of the Galaxy – “Come And Get Your Love”
As critics like myself (although I’d like to think I’m as far from that definition as possible) continue to worry over the staleness of Marvel’s films, the intro to Guardians of the Galaxy, featuring a nonchalantly groovin Chris Pratt dancing to a once forgotten Redbone tune, helps alleviate some of that worry. Starting off on the right foot, this scene helped set the tone for Marvel’s future. It’s going to be a lot more fun.
7. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – “Elevator Beatbox”
You won’t see the TMNT movie on many Best of 2014 lists, but I’ve got to credit where it’s due. It may have be clouded by a bunch of odd decisions, but the Turtles themselves were great. Although they looked like giant steroid hulks, the few times they got to act like their “Teenage” namesake truly stood out. This came to a head in the elevator ride before the final battle with Shredder. It’s the most fun scene in this film, and it’s completely unnecessary when you think about it. But it’s full of so much personality it’s hard to care. I want the sequel to basically be this scene x 100.
6. The Guest – “Anthonio”
The Guest has one of the best soundtracks of 2014. Fusing synth pop and trance together with little known European Pop remixes, and coupling them with a nostalgic run through the horror genre lead to one of the best musically inclined films of the year. The Guest owes most of its successes to its soundtrack and it’s never better than the final scene. A stare down, a remix of Annie’s “Anthonio,” and a sinister Dan Stevens are a match made in heaven.
5. The Book of Life – “Just A Friend/The Apology Song/I Will Wait” as performed by Diego Luna, Cheech Marin, and Gabriel Iglesias
I think The Book of Life‘ll be the only time I hear Tejano-inspired music in film and that’s a bit sad. Like me, it takes influences from classic pop tunes and unapologetically puts a little Mexican flair into each one. There’s too many awesome songs to name (but the one touted as the “big” one, where Diego Luna performs a cover of “Creep,” is kind of lame) with the too brief “Just a Friend,” and the great “Apology Song” sung to a flaming skeletal bull in the Land of the Forgotten, but my favorite is definitely the montage set to “I Will Wait.” It’s hilarious, critiques Mexican culture, and it just sounds so pleasant.
4. The Interview – “Firework” as performed by Jenny Lane
Although the clip above doesn’t refer to the scene on this list (as it’s much better to experience it without being spoiled), trust me when I say that it’s truly a great movie music moment. The scene that launched a thousand emails, and was most likely toned down in retrospect, but it’s a damn fun scene. Much like the rest of The Interview, it makes sense in the most absurd way. Hope you get to see it for yourself.
3. X-Men: Days of Future Past – “Time in a Bottle”
With as many comic book films I see now, they all start to blend in together after awhile. What woke me up from my haze, however, was Days of Future Past. While the rest of the film followed the same beats, and Quicksilver himself wasn’t the most interesting addition, I’ve never seen a better demonstration of super speed. Sure we’ve seen this type of slowdown in films like The Matrix, but I can’t recall seeing it used so humorously. It’s the little touches that made everything work.
2. Frank – “Secure the Galactic Perimeter/I Love You All” as performed by Michael Fassbender
Frank is a film about twelve people saw, and that’s a damn shame. It’s got some of the best music from 2014. The songs were notably assembled by the cast (and not even available in full on the soundtrack) and they’re just so weird. Good weird. While the final song “I Love You All” gets the full bump on this list, it doesn’t really mesh as well as it should until you’ve seen the film. Once you’ve seen the film, learned of all of Frank’s quibbles, then it truly comes together.
1. Whiplash – “Caravan” as performed by Miles Teller
God, Whiplash has the best f**king music. That finale? So gooooooooooooooood.
What are your favorite music moments of 2014? Agree or disagree? Leave a comment below or hit me up on Twitter! Stay tuned through the rest of the week for more “Best Of” lists!