Nick Cave and Warren Ellis get nods for two titles as we look through the best soundtracks of 2017

10:25 1st December 2017

These days, there’s little divide between movies and music, especially as far as the big blockbusters are concerned. Commercial appeal necessitates the inclusion of a memorable soundtrack, all the better to give audiences some other element to cling to whilst leaving the theatre and heading home. Movie scores not only enhance the action onscreen, but actually add to the ambiance, and whether it’s about rekindling musical memories or offering a exposure to the next hit on the hit parade, the aural additive can only heighten the film’s appeal.

Here then is our picks for the dozen films released in 2017 that made the most of their musical menu...

Mr. Roosevelt

It’s appropriate that the soundtrack for this unlikely comedy about a struggling comedienne who returns to her college town and is then forced to spend the weekend with her ex-boyfriend and his new girlfriend is as unpredictable as the premise itself. Fruit Bats, Lotus, Jimmy Radcliffe, and the Heartless Bastards find prominent placement in Ryan Miller’s original score, making for a wonderful mix of mirth and music.

Watch: Trailer

War Machine

Nick Cave teams with longtime writing partner Warren Ellis to create a haunting soundtrack full of ambiance and intrigue. It lends itself well to a film that describes the absurdities of war and the bumbling incompetence of those who are handed responsibility for waging it. Cave and Ellis’s brooding soundscapes provide a murky haze that hangs over the proceedings like a cloud, adding a certain ambiguity and dire disposition to the proceedings as a whole.

Watch: Netflix

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Naturally, the first edition of this wacky sci-fi satire raised the bar sky high, not only in a cinematic sense but in a musical sense as well. By including classic rock and pop, an amused audience was enticed all that much more. The sequel follows suit, and by including classic rock fare from the likes of David Bowie, Electric Light Orchestra, Fleetwood Mac, and George Harrison, audiences found themselves laughing along and humming the hits all at the same time.

Watch: DVD / Blu Ray & more

The Phantom of the Opera

A Rick Wakeman soundtrack can seem stuffy at best, even by old 70s standards. Nevertheless, back in the day, this caped crusader clearly had a knack for re-imagining tales of yore, like the Six Wives of Henry VII or Journey to the Centre of the Earth. Besides, when it comes to an over the top cinematic splurge, what could be better than having Wakeman flail about as the original 1925 horror movie starring Lon Chaney flickers on the screen. There was never a set score to begin with, since theatre owners left it to their piano players to improvise accompaniment. Therefore, Wakeman’s theatrics are perfectly positioned.

Listen: YouTube

Wind River

Ever prolific co-composers Cave and Ellis team up again for another series of surreal sketches that lend an atmospheric ambiance to this tale about an investigator who’s called in to investigate the murder of a young Native American woman, and receives in return the means to gain his own redemption in the process. The music is tentative yet tender, an often ominous attempt to create a mood that maximizes the melancholia.

Watch: DVD, Blu Ray & more

Lost Vegas Hiway

With this indie film and its soundtrack, creator Jeff Mix and his band the Songhearts share a spellbinding story about a group of ne’re-do-wells encamped at a shady Las Vegas motel, adrawn together by gunshots that ring in the middle of the night. “You’d hock your gun for bullets before you realize I’ve got a tongue like the devil and mouth full of lies,” Mix declares early on, setting up a tale of strange circumstance and intrigue.Yet as spellbinding as this story is, the music remains warm and accessible -- shimmery country rock of the most inviting variety.

Watch: trailer

American Folk

Real life folkies Joe Purdy and Amber Rubarth star in this story about two strangers who form an unexpected bond after their flight is grounded in L.A. in the aftermath of the September 11th attacks on New York City. Desperate to return home, the two musicians embark on a cross-country journey in a 1972 Chevy Van, each rediscovering their mutual love of music and the healing and solace it offers. The simple strains of the original melodies supplied by Purdy and Rubarth lend a Woody Guthrie-like feel to the proceedings, but in ways that both timely and touching.

Watch: Trailer

Wonder Woman

One epic song can make an entire score soar -- As evidenced by “My Heart Will Go On” from “Titanic,” for example -- and in the case of "To Be Human" by Sia feat. Labrinth filmmakers chose an anthem befitting the action onscreen. A blockbuster of a song, expect it to garner Oscar honours at next year’s cremonies.

Watch: DVD, Blu Ray & more

Brigsy Bear

As befits a lovely little fantasy about a man obsessed with a big TV teddy bear, David Wingo’s score is sweet, sentimental and an easy little listen all the way through. Like the best soundtracks, it’s easily enjoyed on its own, mostly mellow piano music that creates a cozy mood and unobtrusive intents. “Extremes” A fanciful look at the carefree innocence of 1970s youth culture, with drugs, music and free love taking center stage, “Extremes” boasts a music score in sync with the screenplay, a psychedelic smorgasbord courtesy of a mostly unknown group of contributors. Of those, Supertramp stands out, but the surreal sounds that permeate the proceedings lend a quaint archaic quality to the film overall. British filmmakers Tony Klinger and Michael Lytton’s obscure documentary had a revival this past year, making the soundtrack one of the year’s more intriguing entries. “Fifty Shades Darker” Granted, audiences weren’t prepared to pay all that much attention to the soundtrack given the action that was sizzling on the screen, but regardless, the filmmakers did a good job of featuring songs that could perk up their ears regardless. Zayn, Taylor Swift, Tove Lo, Sia, John Legend, Halsey, Nick Jonas, and Nicki Minaj guaranteed easy access to the hit parade and suggested that at least one essential element of the film would linger long after.

Watch: DVD, Blu Ray & more

Fast & Furious 8

Seriously...have there been eight films in this franchise so far? There must be something memorable about this movie series to keep fans coming back for more. It escapes us, but in the case of this particular entry, it may have something to do with the music, which features Young Thug, 2 Chainz, Wiz Khalifa, and Migos adding their various contributions. Then again, why not skip the redundant plot entirely and simply sample the sounds?

Watch: DVD, Blu Ray & more

Words: Lee Zimmerman

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