Listen: the bluegrassy "White Light, White Heat" and "End Crawl."
"The Hunger Games" boasted a roaring soundtrack to match undercurrents of anger bubbling in the oppressed characters. Arcade Fire, the Civil Wars, and the Decemberists were tasteful, though obvious choices. It was Kid Cudi's unexpected "The Ruler and the Killer" that stood out and added some growling gravitas to the set.
Listen: the rough and angry "The Ruler and the Killer."
In "Anna Karenina" the Italian composer, Dario Marianelli's dreamy, rich melancholic score was a centerpiece of the film. This is the fourth time that Marianelli worked with director Joe Wright (he won an Oscar for his "Atonement" score). Marianelli wrote the music before filming started -- an unusual practice -- so that Wright could match movement and choreography to the score, inducing a ballet-like vibe that informs the whole world.
Listen: a preview of the soundtrack
Two more short-lists worth noting:
Movies outshone by their soundtracks: