Each year, the Academy Awards honors the composers of the Best Original Score and writers of the Best Original Song. At the 2018 ceremony, Alexandre Desplat won for The Shape of Water and Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez for “Remember Me” from Coco (a scene so moving that I actually choked on my own tears). But unfortunately there’s no award for the best use of a soundtrack, which can be the perfect way for a director to express what a character is thinking, establish the time period and setting, or even just be a super cool moment that leaves audiences humming on the way out. Let’s take a look at some of the best uses of soundtrack in the 2018 Oscar-nominated or winning films.
“Crash Into Me” by The Dave Matthews Band in Lady Bird
Only Greta Gerwig could transform the Dave Matthews Band’s syrupy ballad about masturbation into a celebration of female friendship. After Lady Bird discovers her boyfriend Danny making out with a boy in a restaurant bathroom, she sings along to the erotic confessional and cries with her best friend Julie—a much better post-break up remedy than a scoop of Ben and Jerry’s. Later, Lady Bird’s snooty quasi-boyfriend Kyle tells her that he hates the song, so she ditches him and his popular kid cronies to attend prom with her one true soulmate: Julie.
“Love My Way” by The Psychedelic Furs in Call Me By Your Name
On a gorgeous Italian summer night, Elio sits smoking and watching Oliver—a ridiculously handsome Adonis who resembles the Hellenistic statues he studies—unabashedly bop to “Love My Way” at an outdoor club. The lyrics about following your instincts despite what others think resonates with Elio’s growing infatuation. Swept away by the song’s infectious rhythm, he succumbs to his romantic feelings and joins Elio in his joyful dance.
“Gloria” by Laura Branigan in I, Tonya
Two bumbling hoodlums belting Laura Branigan’s glorious “Gloria” on their way to smash an ice skating princess’ knee is not only a fantastic use of soundtrack, but my favorite film moment of 2018. These supposedly hardened criminals riling themselves up with a synth-heavy female disco anthem is a moment of pure ridiculousness that foreshadows what great big idiots they prove themselves to be in their fumbled handling of Nancy Kerrigan’s sabotage. Branigan warns the criminals against their rash actions: “I think you’ve got to slow down before you start to blow it. . . you’re headed for a breakdown.”
“You’ll Never Know” by Alice Faye in The Shape of Water
Before he has to return to the sea, Elisa wants to tell her scaly paramour that she loves him, but all she can do is retreat into an elaborate black-and-white Hollywood fantasy of them dancing like Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers to Alice Fay’s sultry “You’ll Never Know, Just How Much I Love You,” with its smooth jazz vocals that sound like a cool stream.
Literally Every Song in Baby Driver
Director Edgar Wright chose over forty songs to synchronize with nearly every moment of Baby Driver, making it impossible to choose just one! He expertly matches the tune’s lyrics and rhythm to his visuals, which goes to show why Baby Driver was nominated for Best Editing. Baby sashaying to the “Harlem Shuffle” while getting coffee, the explosive “Bellbottoms” in the exhilarating first car chase, and Queen’s thrashing “Brighton Rock” orchestrating the high-adrenaline final showdown are just a few of the movie’s awesome soundtrack moments.
by Caroline Madden
Caroline hails from the home state of her hero, Bruce Springsteen. Some of her favorite films include Dog Day Afternoon, Raging Bull, Inside Llewyn Davis, and The Lord of the Rings. She has an MA degree in Cinema Studies from SCAD and her writing also appears on Fandor, Reverse Shot, IndieWire, and Vague Visages. You can follow her on Twitter @crolinss and Instagram @crolins