With the power to bolster a flailing scene, add emotional complexity, and round out a film, the soundtracks and scores of 2012 were often as good (or better) than the films that contained them. Below is a sampling of the best soundtracks of 2012, scores and compilations -- with a highlighted track embedded at the end of the post.
Reliable connoisseurs of the cross-over between music and movies, The Playlist listed "The Master," "Anna Karenina," "Beasts of the Southern Wild," the plucky soundtrack of "Celeste and Jesse Forever," Nick Urata's elated score of "Ruby Sparks," Fiona Apple's "Dull Tool" for Apatow's "This is Forty," and Hans Zimmer's showy turn in "The Dark Knight Rises" among their favorites of 2012. Their full list of Best Film Soundtracks and Scores here as well their Best Movie Music Movements here.
MTV highlighted mostly teen-targeted fare: "The Hunger Games," "Pitch Perfect," "The Perks of Being a Wallflower," "Twilight: Breaking Dawn - Part 2," as well as some heavier
scores including "Cloud Atlas" (one of the director trio, Tom Tykwer helped to score this), Howard Shore's work in "The Hobbit," Desplat's score for "Argo" and John Williams' work on "Lincoln."
"Les Miserables" factored first on EW's list, followed by "The Hunger Games," "Marley," the mid-nineties heavy soundtrack from "The Avengers," "Moonrise Kingdom," "Man with Iron Firsts," with high praise for "Pitch Perfect," described as a soundtrack that "Glee" could envy. They also had a Worst of 2012 which strictly included movies centered around music: "Magic Mike," "Sparkle," "Joyful Noise," and "Rock of Ages."
Head below for highlights from the best of 2012's soundtracks and scores:
The score for "Beasts of the Southern Wild," by Dan Rohmer and director Benh Zeitlin, is entrancing, complex, and soulful - clearly a part of the film's general vision as it helps guide us through the perspective of young Hush Puppy.
"Silver Lining's Playbook" featured a comical use of Stevie Wonder, as well Alabama Shakes, Led Zeppelin, the late Dave Brubeck, the Lumineers, and some scoring by Danny Elfman. The soundtrack makes you want to train for a low-level dancing competition with Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence, respectively.
Highlight: the superb capsule of rock via "Fell in Love with a Girl" from The White Stripes.
Music docs should simultaneously recall the best of the musicians while introducing you to older obscurities. "Shut Up and Play the Hits," about LCD Soundsystem, did this skillfully, but it was director Malik Bendjelloul's "Searching for Sugarman" documentary that stood out. The documentary contrasted Sixto Diaz Rodriguez's popularity in South Africa with his obscurity in his home, the States. Bendjelloul's documentary ultimately prompted recognition of Rodriguez stateside and music tour.
Highlight: the gorgeous "Crucify Your Mind."
"Lawless" featured eclectic folksy and rocking mix that could stand apart from John Hillcoat's movie, no doubt due to the involvement of Nick Cave and Warren Ellis both from the Bad Seeds (Nick Cave helped to write the script). The soundtrack features covers of a range of musicians from Townes Van Zandt to the Velvet Underground.