Music at the Movies 2015



The movies are nothing without music. Whether it be a perfectly queued indie song (Me and Girl and the Dying Girl) or a score that subtly crawls under your skin, settled and calm (Room) music is the medium that greatly informs film and how any certain scene will turn out. As was the case with last year, 2015 in film was peppered with musical moments that broke our hearts, made us laugh or even struck us cold with the poignancy of the moment. Let us know in the comments which moments you loved the most.


Brooklyn – “Frankies Song” – Iarla Ó Lionáird

Not being a sucker for love, but a sucker for romance films is a paradox in itself. Being one of two men in a room full of women, crying alongside them made it more memorable, specifically when you hear the beautiful rendition of  “Casadh an Tsúgáin,” or “Frankie’s Song,” by Iarla Ó Lionáird during the food kitchen scene in the spectacular film Brooklyn. The song embodies the culture and sound of Ireland as it’s replicated in facial emotions from Eilis, the lead of the film. The traditional Irish ballad is a tearjerker with its somber strings. It’s hard not to exclaim how this song evokes everything the film centralizes on thematically, especially in the scene where it is performed. Author – Kev

Dope – “Can’t Bring Me Down” – Awreeoh 

It’s already been established in the film up to this point just how obsessed the three main characters are with music, and this scene not only allows for the film to relieve itself of some of the tension it had been carrying, but also return back to the musical roots. The brief scene is over before you know it, but it encapsulates all of the good of Dope, including the often times manic energy, the vibrancy of the film and it’s sound, to the charm of the leading man. The movie’s pace and tone get scrambled through most of the playing time, but the music and how it charges up one scene to the next is always a highlight. Author – Allyson

Ex Machina – “Get Down Saturday Night” – Oliver Cheatham

Alex Garlands science fiction film Ex Machina was all about unsettling the viewer. From the way the color red bled through the screen when the power would go out in Nathan’s facility, to the entire sequence where Caleb questions his own humanity, the film’s goal is to creep its way under your skin. Nathan’s unpredictability is what makes him such a fascinating antagonist, and this impromptu dance sequence further exemplifies just what isolation can do to a person who has the mindset of a jock as well as a petulant boy genius. Oscar Isaac shines (once again) in a scene that’s equal parts silly, bizarre and even mildly frightening. Author – Allyson


Far From the Madding Crowd – “Let No Man Steal Your Thyme” – The Traditional

There is so much to love and swoon over in Thomas Vinterberg’s adaptation of the classic romance, Far From The Madding Crowd. The story revolves around Bathsheba (Carey Mulligan), a strong-willed young woman who inherits a farm and is determined to run it on her own. She enchants three different men: a captivated farmer (Matthias Schoenaerts), a passionate soldier (Tom Sturridge) and a rich but kind older gentleman (Michael Sheen). One of my favorite scenes is the duet between Bathsheba and Sheen’s character. They sing the traditional folk song, “Let No Man Steal Your Thyme.” Besides the fact that the song itself is completely fitting of Mulligan’s character and the main themes of the film, their performance was incredibly and subtly moving. It’s one of those scenes that could’ve easily felt odd and out of place, but the way it’s filmed and the sparse and sort of haunting arrangement of the song makes it one of the momentous and revealing parts of the film. Author – Gaby

Girlhood – “Diamonds” – Rhianna

My gosh this scene. If you haven’t yet seen Celine Sciamma’s bracing film Girlhood, (and you really should since it’s on Netflix) this scene should be the one that convinces you. In one scene Sciamma and the young actresses manage to embody everything beautiful about being a girl. In the most exuberant, freeing, moment of the film, the girls stand and belt out a favorite and catchy song, at times breaking the fourth wall to stare directly into the camera. Watch the look of utter bliss on the leading lady’s face, eyes scrunched and beaming and she sings the words to the son, encircled by the arms of some of her best friends, her makeshift family. You will never listen to the song the same way again. Author – Allyson 

Love & Mercy – “God Only Knows” – The Beach Boys

Telling the true story of the life of Beach Boys’ front man Brian Wilson, Love and Mercy established itself as one of the best music biopics in years. A big reason why is the incorporation of the classic Beach Boys sound. Many think of the Beach Boys as just surf music, but there is a lot more depth and emotion under the surface. Beautifully performed in the film by Paul Dano, perhaps the most memorable song used is the Pet Sounds’ classic “God Only Knows.” The incredibly thoughtful lyrics depict the joy of love and the melancholy without it, representing the film’s critical themes nicely. Dano’s voice makes for a solid new rendition, as his slow pace and gentle voice get across all the key emotional beats. Even without the complex harmonies, the song still delivers a strong sense of emotion. It’s a classic love song for a reason, and it perfectly represents the genius that is Brian Wilson. Author – Matt 


Phoenix – “Speak Low” – Billie Holiday

The entire film is about rebirth and rising from the ashes of a past life. This can only be done once you move on from your previous life, but Nelly is trapped by her past. Phoenix is full of powerful moments, but this one shows that she is free from the horrors of her past and ready to move forward. In the song, she sings about love and its fleeting nature. She is not only singing it to Johnny, but mainly to herself as a reminder. There is sadness in her voice, but also hope and a surprising amount of forgiveness. Author – Jon

To check out the full scene itself, go here. But beware, massive, massive spoilers to follow.



Sleeping with Other People – “Modern Love”- David Bowie

All things considered, this is a pretty inconsequential scene, but Leslye Headland’s film Sleeping with Other People deserves more love than it got. The scene mentioned when the two characters, Lainey (Alison Brie) and Jake (Jason Sudeikis) are tripping and go to their friend’s kid’s birthday party and cut loose to some David Bowie. It’s a silly scene, but it’s a hell of a lot of fun, it makes you smile and it showcases once again Brie and Sudeikis’s surprising amount of chemistry. Author – Allyson


The Night Before – “Wrecking Ball” – Miley Cyrus

The film was always building up to this point. With all the references to Miley Cyrus and “Wrecking Ball” specifically, we knew there would be a performance and it didn’t disappoint. Although Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character was singing it as a grand romantic gesture for his ex-girlfriend, it was actually a wake up call. Up to that point, he personified the proverbial “wrecking ball” in the way his apathy and lack of ambition affected the lives of the people who care about him. This emotional climax shows the character in what he believes to be his highest moment, while the audience finally realizes he’s hit rock bottom. Author – Jon 

Trainwreck – “Uptown Girl” – Billy Joel

I can’t say I was a huge fan of Trainwreck as an overall film, but this is one of my favorite moments of the year, period. Taking a song that has grown irksome over the years and channeling it into a big, romantic gesture scene, Trainwreck uses Billy Joel’s “Uptown Girl” in one the films sweetest, genuinely heartfelt scenes. Pair that with the shot of Bill Hader’s beaming face so totally in love with Amy, and you’ve got yourself the perfect, romantic comedy moment. Author – Allyson 


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