The 30 Best Movie Soundtracks of the 21st Century

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best movie soundtracks of the 21st century

It’s difficult to imagine any of the all-time greatest films without an equally great soundtrack to back it up. Music can often elevate an already beautifully written and breathtakingly shot film to something even greater, which has held true throughout the 21st century. Whether it’s the old-time harmonies of the Soggy Bottom Boys, Bob and Charlotte singing karaoke in Tokyo, Bowie classics sung in Portuguese, or a late-night, neon-lit synthwave drive.

Where the 1980s saw the outgrowth of the soundtrack into increasingly creative directions and the ’90s produced countless blockbuster companion compilations, the 21st century has seen a blend of nostalgic storytelling and forward-thinking innovation. Where directors such as Sofia Coppola and Paul Thomas Anderson have employed songs as crucial parts of a film’s narrative or emotional gravity, avant garde composers such as Daniel Lopatin and Bobby Krlic have helped push the modern film score into strange and thrilling new territory. Our list of the best movie soundtracks of the 21st century includes both scores and collections of songs, all of which made some of the best films of the past 24 years even more memorable.

Blurbs written by Adam Blyweiss (AB), Greg Hyde (GH), Konstantin Rega (KR), Noah Sparkes (NS), and Jeff Terich (JT).

Note: When you buy something through our affiliate links, Treble receives a commission. All albums included are chosen by our editors and contributors.

best movie soundtracks of the 21st century - Almost Famous

Various Artists – Almost Famous (2000)

Based on writer/director Cameron Crowe’s own experiences writing for Rolling Stone as a teenager, Almost Famous is a true story that—thanks to endless rounds of media conglomeration and a struggling industry—seems far less likely to happen now than it might have in the 1970s. Still, the charming and nostalgic coming-of-age tale resonates 24 years later because it’s as much a love letter to rock ‘n’ roll as a backdoor biopic, centering fictional band Stillwater amid needle drops from the likes of Paul Simon, Led Zeppelin, Elton John and David Bowie. The original soundtrack release likewise included Stillwater’s “Fever Dog,” written by Heart’s Nancy Wilson, as well. But for the film’s 20th anniversary, Almost Famous‘ soundtrack was reissued as a massive box set, featuring all 103 songs included in the movie, including Deep Purple, Fleetwood Mac, Neil Young and Crazy Horse, Joni Mitchell, The Stooges and, of course, more of the original songs written for Stillwater. – JT

Listen/Buy: Spotify | Turntable Lab (vinyl) | Amazon (Deluxe Edition)

best movie soundtracks of the 21st century - Air

Air – The Virgin Suicides (2000)

Francis Ford Coppola has a moviemaking resumé probably as long as his daughter Sofia is tall, and it’s never guaranteed that offspring of famous parents will find the same success in their field. But her first feature-length film was full of promise thanks to a doozy of a premise, adapting Jeffrey Eugenides’ debut novel about unrequited love for members of a tragic family. Coppola wanted the score to evoke childhood in the 1970s without sounding too on the nose, and so opted for the stylings of the French duo Air, fresh off of their astounding 1998 album Moon Safari. Their position in the burgeoning trip-hop genre resulted in music that referenced David Bowie, Pink Floyd, and Wendy Carlos. – AB

Listen: Spotify

best movie soundtracks of the 21st century - Ghost Dog

RZA – Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai (2000)

Ghost Dog straddled the millennial divide, first screened at Cannes in 1999 but given a wide release in 2000, and likewise its soundtrack could arguably be one of the best of the ’90s, though again, it didn’t see release outside of Japan until 2000—and even then, it was a compilation that featured only a fraction of the RZA’s complete productions. For his urban samurai tale starring Forrest Whitaker and heavily inspired by French new wave film Le Samourai, Jim Jarmusch enlisted the Wu-Tang Clan’s ringleader to craft a gritty beatscape. Equal parts suspenseful and melancholy, RZA’s score captures the loneliness and danger of the title character via sparse productions driven by booming, crackly beats. After all, it’s only fitting that a producer who packed his creations with references to Shogun Assassin have the honor of creating the soundtrack to one of the best takes on the samurai film in the past 25 years. – JT

Listen/Buy: YouTube | Amazon (vinyl)

High Fidelity

Various Artists – High Fidelity (2000)

Rob Gordon, the protagonist of High Fidelity, adapted from Nick Hornby’s novel and moved from London to Chicago, frequently discusses the importance of sequencing a good mixtape, makes top-five lists with his employees Barry and Dick, and reorders his record collection as a means of self-medication. Knowing all that, it’d be a massive disappointment if Stephen Frears’ romantic comedy about the lives of vinyl nerds didn’t have its own superb comp to match. Featuring lesser known songs by all-time greats (Elvis Costello, Bob Dylan), standouts from cult bands (Love, Stereolab, 13th Floor Elevators) and Royal Trux as stand-ins for the Sigue Sigue Sputnik-thieving skate rat duo The Kinky Wizards, High Fidelity makes a case for the soundtrack-as-mixtape better than most films this century or last. – JT

Listen/Buy: Spotify | Amazon

O Brother, Where Art Thou
Lost Highway

Various Artists – O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000)

The Coen brothers’ film retelling of Homer’s Odyssey stars George Clooney as part of a trio of escaped prisoners masquerading as musicians while searching for hidden treasure. The songs backing their journey through the natural and human hazards of Depression-era Mississippi covered blues, bluegrass, country, folk, and devotional music in startlingly effective fashion, lifting this little corner of AAA-radio programming into the cultural zeitgeist for years. Clooney’s lip-syncing of The Soggy Bottom Boys’ “I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow” was endlessly shared online well before memes were a thing, Harry McClintock’s “Big Rock Candy Mountain” re-entered public consciousness after 52 years, Alison Krauss entered the stratosphere of her career and still hasn’t come down, and the soundtrack won multiple Grammys including Album of the Year in 2002. – AB

Listen/Buy: Spotify | Amazon (vinyl)

best movie soundtracks of the 21st century - 24 Hour Party People

Various Artists – 24 Hour Party People (2002)

Michael Winterbottom’s fourth-wall-breaking, surreal retelling of the rise and fall of Factory Records broke out of predictable Hollywood biopic patterns, both for its good-humored skewing of the lens as well as the wealth of post-punk music that backed it. That latter part of the equation is mandatory for a film like 24 Hour Party People, whose soundtrack is in large part a collection of must-hear moments in the Factory catalog—including Joy Division, New Order, Durutti Column and Happy Mondays. Its sequencing in large part mirrors the chronological history of Factory and its impact on the Manchester scene, from the early punk bands that first influenced bands like Joy Division (Sex Pistols, Buzzcocks) to the house and Balearic beat sounds that became standard at the legendary Hacienda (808 State, A Guy Called Gerald). It’s neither a completist’s take on Factory (no A Certain Ratio, for one thing), nor a wider overview of Manchester in the late ’70s and ’80s (no songs by The Fall or The Smiths), but a musical companion for a brief but legendary microcosm of a musical movement. – JT

Listen/Buy: Spotify | Amazon

best movie soundtracks of the 21st century - Punch-Drunk Love

Jon Brion – Punch-Drunk Love (2002)

Sandwiched between Magnolia and There Will Be Blood, Paul Thomas Anderson’s Punch-Drunk Love can’t help but feel a bit understated, a strange and charming romantic comedy-drama that presented Adam Sandler as a serious dramatic actor after years of comic success. Its score by Jon Brion mirrors the playfully odd tone of the film, romantic and ornate yet off-kilter all at once, with occasional interruptions from the Popeye soundtrack. Despite its appearance in one of the film’s subplots, Jon Brion doesn’t actually load the soundtrack up with harmonium, though you’d be forgiven for thinking so, given the sounds of various other keyboards throughout the album (prepared piano, celesta, etc.). Where Brion provided production work on Aimee Mann’s Magnolia soundtrack, here his own compositions are given the spotlight, particularly the one actual non-score original song, the gorgeous and lush “Here We Go.” – JT

Listen: Spotify

Kill Bill Vol. 1

Various Artists – Kill Bill (2003)

Quentin Tarantino’s two-part revenge film is a classic, and it is only heightened by its versatile and explosive soundtrack. “Twisted Nerve” by Bernard Herrmann accompanies the hospital scene—you know, all the creepy whistling—and quickly became an instant fan favorite. From “Woo Hoo” by The’s to “Ironside” by Quincy Jones (and the disco salsa of “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood,” a killer killer theme), these pieces fill the film with life and character, with supportive texture. Though the fragmented nature of the compilation means some of the slighter moments might not stand on their own outside the movie, producer and organizer RZA fit each track in the exact right spot for maximum effect. – KR

Listen/Buy: Spotify | Amazon (vinyl)

best movie soundtracks of the 21st century - Lost in Translation
Emperor Norton

Various Artists – Lost in Translation (2003)

Big names swerving expectations in precious art-house films was all the rage at the turn of the century. Few such instances received as much attention as this second feature from director Sofia Coppola. A breakthrough dramatic role for Bill Murray as well as a breakout role for Scarlett Johannson, Lost in Translation was so many films in one, tackling a May-December non-romance, relationship facades in parallel, the fish-out-of-water tale, the weirdness of media and celebrity, and chances taken to find small joys. Set against the cold comfort of a Japanese luxury hotel and surrounding streets and districts, the movie uses a lot of dreamy rock constructs from electronica (Squarepusher, Air) and especially shoegaze (The Jesus & Mary Chain, My Bloody Valentine, instrumental scoring from MBV’s Kevin Shields). – AB

Listen/Buy: Spotify | Turntable Lab (vinyl)

The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou

Various Artists – The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou (2004)

Since as early as 1998’s Rushmore, Wes Anderson’s films have become renowned for their soundtracks as much as their playful visual dioramas, whether through that album’s use of lesser heard British invasion gems or Moonrise Kingdom‘s interpretation of Benjamin Britten’s The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra as a thematic frame. The Life Aquatic is one of Anderson’s messier films, but as with his canon as a whole, the soundtrack is impeccable. Brazilian performer Seu Jorge, acting as a kind of troubadour aboard the Belafonte, translates several classic David Bowie songs into stripped-down samba songs complete with Portuguese lyrics. His takes on “Starman,” “Rebel, Rebel,” “Life on Mars?” and “Rock and Roll Suicide” are essential listens on their own, while additional highlights from Devo, The Stooges and Scott Walker round out the mix with the kinds of deep cuts that have become synonymous with Anderson’s films. – JT

Listen/Buy: Spotify | Amazon

Marie Antoinette
Verve Forecast

Various Artists – Marie Antoinette (2006)

Sofia Coppola’s first three feature films all include memorable uses of music. She latched on to Air’s brand of trip-hop for The Virgin Suicides, and employed both tender and smothering songs to help keep secrets in Lost in Translation. The third movie in this unintended trilogy is Coppola’s vision of the life of French Queen Marie Antoinette (played by Kirsten Dunst), where the reinforcing sonic messages and even some of the on-screen fashion took cues from the 1970s and 1980s. Woven among period classical compositions on the massive two-CD soundtrack were post-punk and new wave acts like Bow Wow Wow and The Cure, and others sonically descended from these like Aphex Twin and The Radio Dept. It’s a trend that’s now exploded across dramatic media, as modern music gets placed or interpolated in the most anachronistic situations from Django Unchained to Bridgerton. – AB

Listen: Spotify

assassination of jesse james soundtrack review

Nick Cave and Warren Ellis – The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007)

Nick Cave wrote his own western, 2005’s The Proposition, before working with longtime musical partner Warren Ellis on scoring many of the 21st century’s other notable westerns—and crime films, and biopics, and documentaries, and so on. The duo’s soundtrack for the sparse, elegiac The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford is as stark and melancholy as the film itself, among some of the most beautiful and evocative music they’ve created together. With pieces often composed of just a few instruments, typically piano and violin with occasional guitar, celesta and some light percussion. The compositions are uniformly stunning, like landscapes unto themselves—ominous, aching and awe-inspiring. – JT

Listen/Buy: Spotify | Amazon (vinyl)

best movie soundtracks of the 21st century - There Will Be Blood

Jonny Greenwood – There Will Be Blood (2007)

Jonny Greenwood’s ongoing creative partnership with director Paul Thomas Anderson has produced some of the most beguiling film music—and indeed contemporary classical music—of recent times. They are uniquely well-suited to each other, both attuned to the myriad uncomfortable, fascinating dissonances of human behavior. Just as Anderson’s work thrives on messy ambiguities, Greenwood’s scores are similarly enigmatic, dancing between tones, rejecting any easily discernible interpretation. There Will Be Blood was their first collaboration and likely their most celebrated, Anderson’s vast portrait of early American industrial capitalism backed perfectly by Greenwood’s strange, askew string arrangements. – NS

Listen/Buy: Spotify | Amazon (vinyl)


Various Artists – Adventureland (2009)

Greg Mottola drew on his personal history as inspiration for his follow-up to Superbad, Adventureland. In it, gauche Oberlin graduate James Brennan (Jesse Eisenberg) takes a job at the titular Pittsburgh amusement park to pay for grad school. Based on a 1980s theme park summer job of Mottola’s, the film’s soundtrack greatly enhances the verisimilitude of its reconstruction of 1987. You get the sense he would have made out to Crowded House and Lou Reed, driven home to Hüsker Dü, and pushed to his limits at work to Falco. Rarely this century have soundtracks taken viewers back to a time and place so vividly. – GH

Listen: Spotify

The Social Network
Null Corporation

Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross – The Social Network (2010)

There is a queasy melancholy at the heart of The Social Network, a sense that what might have been an emancipatory, connective technology has turned sour and harmful in the hands of individuals like Mark Zuckerberg. There’s a reason it’s been called the quintessential film of the internet age. “Hand Covers Bruise”—in effect, the central theme of the film—captures that feeling with just two components. Anxious tremolo strings simmer beneath the surface, while a simple innocent piano motif recurs. Those sounds have become inseparable from the film, eerie reminders of what might’ve been and what has taken its place. – NS

Listen: Spotify

best movie soundtracks of the 21st century - Daft Punk Tron Legacy

Daft Punk – Tron: Legacy (2010)

The helmeted French electronica duo had already touched the mainstream multiple times through the start of the 21st century on the strength of their own work as well as that of famous name-droppers and samplers. Still, I’m pretty sure none of us predicted The Mouse would eventually come a-knockin’. Big fans of Disney’s 1982 computerized caper Tron, Daft Punk were finally able to answer calls from producers of a planned sequel in 2008 and spent about a year among both their synth racks and an 85-piece orchestra. The music for Tron: Legacy would actually trend more analog than digital, as capable as Tangerine Dream or Vangelis before them, with singularly moody atmospheres and arpeggios for a Holy Trinity allegory told in the microspaces between the world’s zeroes and ones. The Reconfigured remix collection would give Daft Punk fans the beats and beeps they craved, but I’ll buy into this soundtrack work being a dry run for the career-capping songcraft heard on Random Access Memories. – AB

Listen/Buy: Spotify | Amazon (vinyl)


Cliff Martinez/Various Artists – Drive (2011)

The soundtrack to Nicholas Winding Refn’s violent, car-centric, postmodern western is a landmark release in popularizing synthwave, a stylized genre of music that imagines a future envisioned through an anachronistic ’80s lens. French producer Kavinsky is juxtaposed against tonally linked Italians Do It Better acts Chromatics and Desire. The lion’s share of the music is handled by veteran film composer Cliff Martinez (Solaris, Traffic), whose Tangerine Dream-like ambient pieces cut through the more stylized pop songs with an emotional lucidity. Martinez captures a subtler darkness amid the flashes of neon, capturing the sense of danger that follows Ryan Gosling’s scorpion-embroidered protagonist. – JT

Listen/Buy: Spotify | Amazon (vinyl)

Searching for Sugar Man
Legacy/Light in the Attic

Rodriguez – Searching for Sugar Man (2012)

There were multiple soundtracks considered for this list that merely collected one artist’s previously released work, often in service of a documentary or biopic. Few reached the level of rediscovery—or pure discovery—found in this compilation of obscure and unreleased recordings by Detroit musician Sixto Rodriguez. The Oscar-winning film contrasts his unremarkable career and retirement to private life in America with the urban-legend status placed on him in the southern hemisphere, where the licensing and distribution of his music had become vital to South Africa’s anti-apartheid movement. Searching for Sugar Man, the movie, is a journey to a hero. Searching for Sugar Man, the soundtrack album, is a hero’s journey. – AB

Listen: Spotify

best movie soundtracks of the 21st century - The World's End

Various Artists – The World’s End (2013)

Following the success of “rom-zom-com” Shaun of the Dead and the absurdist buddy cop flick Hot Fuzz, director Edgar Wright closed out his Cornetto Trilogy—all of which featured a recurring cast (notably Simon Pegg and Nick Frost) and an overarching struggle with adulthood—with a peer into the abyss. The pub-crawl-turned-apocalyptic-battle is perhaps the most outlandish of the three (though in hindsight, only by a matter of degrees), but undoubtedly the one with the greatest playlist underscoring its endtimes exploits. The inclusion of The Sisters of Mercy’s “This Corrosion” is the most on-the-nose, if awesome needle drop for one of the film’s climactic moments, while the rest of tracklist balances youthful hedonism (Soup Dragons’ “I’m Free,” Primal Scream’s “Loaded”) with nostalgia (Blur’s “There’s No Other Way,” The Stone Roses’ “Fool’s Gold”) in capturing a story that, despite its more overt sci-fi elements, is really a meditation on the passage of time and the disorientation of reuniting with people and places that aren’t a part of your life anymore. – JT

Listen/Buy: Apple Music | Amazon

Deutsche Grammofon

Jóhann Jóhannsson – Arrival (2016)

For a film ostensibly about communication, it’s fitting that the late Jóhann Jóhannsson’s score features the voice so prominently. This is no normal voice however, rather Jóhannsson contorts and bends the voice into indiscernible ramblings, somehow combining these strange syllabic phrases into something beautiful; something both otherworldly and deeply familiar. In his words, his creation was akin to “the babbling of a new infant trying to understand—or subconsciously absorb—the basic structure of a language.” With its uncompromising experimentalism, the music of Arrival affirmed that one of the homes of avant-garde music remains in the cinema. – NS

Listen/Buy: Spotify | Amazon (vinyl)

best movie soundtracks of the 21st century - Moonlight

Nicholas Britell – Moonlight (2016)

Film music is at its best when it avoids didacticism, embellishing the narrative rather than instructing audiences how to feel. For Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight, Britell needed to match the rich emotionality of the film without compromising its subtlety. The result was a score of immense sensitivity. This is not a soundtrack of grand emotional gestures but of quiet, repressed yearning. Violins whisper over muted piano, the textures of the recording as important as the core motifs. When the score does momentarily burst into life on the frenetic “The Middle of the World” it is all the more shattering, the whirlpool of emotion contained within our young protagonist becoming terrifyingly clear. – NS

Listen/Buy: Spotify | Amazon (vinyl)

shape of water

Alexandre Desplat – The Shape of Water (2017)

A good score does more than supply original music for scenes and situations, but likewise may include external songs that fit the mood. Multiple award-winning composer Alexandre Desplat (The King’s Speech and The Grand Budapest Hotel) is the perfect match for the sophisticated storytelling of director Guillermo del Toro. Filled with beautiful strings, piano, and vocals, the score to Shape of Water will sweep you away—on and off the screen. Some of its standouts include “La Javanaise,” written and performed by jazz singer Madeleine Peyroux, and originals like “Elisa’s Theme” that have that je ne sais quoi without being over the top in their Francophilia, enhancing the viewer experience tenfold. – KR

Listen/Buy: Spotify | Amazon

Black Panther the Album review
Top Dawg

Various Artists – Black Panther: The Album (2018)

Like Wakanda’s rumored existence, this album’s status as both (kind of) a Kendrick Lamar LP and a Black Panther soundtrack is shielded, obscured, fuzzy at best. K.Dot is only credited on four of this album’s 14 songs, but curated the whole thing and put himself on the mic or behind the boards many other anonymous times. And we only hear three of the songs in the movie at all—”Opps” and “Pray for Me” play during the Wakandans’ visit to Korea, while “All the Stars” shows up in the credits. That being said, the lyrics constantly invoke the movie’s characters (the interloper Killmonger, ex-girlfriend Nakia) and themes (racism, imperialism, mutual aid), and show a wide range of performers from near (The Weeknd, SZA) and far (South Africans Saudi and Sjava) at the height of their powers. – AB

Listen/Buy: Spotify | Amazon (vinyl)

best movie soundtracks of the 21st century - Thom Yorke Suspiria

Thom Yorke – Suspiria (2018)

Of Radiohead’s five members, Jonny Greenwood has had the most fertile career as a film composer, appearing twice on this list alone. Yet Thom Yorke proved himself a master of the macabre with his eerie score for Luca Guadagnino’s reimagining of horror classic Suspiria. Yet where Guadagnino put distance between his own version and Argento’s colorful psychedelic vision, Yorke likewise offers a take that feels distinctive from Goblin’s own spectacular score from 1976. Yorke’s dance-coven soundtrack nods to krautrock innovators such as Faust as well as Vangelis’ Blade Runner score. It’s also gothic, ornate and creepy as hell, juxtaposing unsettling instrumentals alongside song-driven material such as “Suspirium” and “Has Ended.” – JT

Listen/Buy: Spotify | Turntable Lab (vinyl)

best movie soundtracks of the 21st century - Midsommar

Bobby Krlic – Midsommar (2019)

It’s by no means a new development for experimental, noise and industrial artists to enter the field of film composition—Graeme Revell of noise collagists SPK has been at it for three decades, and Trent Reznor is an Oscar winner. But the continued success of A24 horror has brought with it a number of stunningly stomach-churning scores from contemporary artists on the fringes of popular music. Following Colin Stetson’s masterful mood setting in Hereditary, The Haxan Cloak’s Bobby Krlic stepped up to take on the role of soundtracking Ari Aster’s next film, the psychedelic folk horror of Midsommar. Though less outwardly noisy than 2013’s Excavation, Krlic’s score draws from a more nightmarish symphonic palette, at once atmospheric and deeply harrowing. For every otherworldly and gentle sequence like “The House That Hårga Built,” there’s a climactic and gut-wrenching moment like “Hårga, Collapsing,” showcasing the film’s duality of pastoral beauty undercut with unflinching, violent horrors. – JT

Listen/Buy: Spotify | Amazon (vinyl)

best movie soundtracks of the 21st century - Uncut Gems

Daniel Lopatin – Uncut Gems (2019)

For a film as relentlessly anxiety-inducing as Uncut Gems, one might expect the music to mirror or exacerbate that freneticism. Daniel Lopatin, otherwise known as Oneohtrix Point Never, went a different route, crafting a glistening, vaguely comical new-age synth odyssey. Lopatin’s cosmic score—replete with eccentric choral passages, lush beds of Vangelis-esque ambience, and synths that dart across the mix like neurons—elevate Howard Ratner’s frenzied quest for wealth to an almost spiritual, religious scale. This is not an isolated tale of gambling addiction, but a kind of tragicomic modern parable. God is dead and our new deity demands a grave sacrifice. Lopatin leans heavily into that wider scope, directing the film towards some absorbing questions. – NS

Listen/Buy: Spotify | Amazon (vinyl)

best movie soundtracks of the 21st century - Candyman
Waxwork/Sacred Bones

Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe – Candyman (2021)

For Nia DaCosta’s continuation of the Candyman horror myth (featuring a screenplay co-write from Jordan Peele), it seemed only logical to enlist a fixture of Chicago’s underground music scene to compose the score. Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe, a former member of post-rock group 90 Day Men who also released several ambient/drone albums as Lichens, creates an atmosphere of otherworldly dread that drips with melancholy beauty, as heard through subtler highlights like “Troy Story.” Lowe is adept at building monuments of sonic terror, complementing the supernatural body horror afflicting artist Anthony McCoy as he undergoes a violent transformation, but through frequent use of layers of choral voice and an understated yet unsettling approach, Lowe delivers a mesmerizing addition to the canon. – JT

Listen/Buy: Spotify | Amazon (vinyl)


Hans Zimmer – Dune (2021)

Almost every blockbuster film of recent years has been inundated with Zimmer-isms (Inception-esque blaring horns, bombastic crescendos, and the more general quest for “epic” scale) so you could easily forgive any fatigue with his style and its many imitators. For Denis Villeneuve’s Dune adaptation, Zimmer didn’t change tack entirely but pushed his tendencies into unforeseen directions. Though the melodic themes that Zimmer carves out are beautiful, the meticulously-crafted textures rich and alien, it’s the thunderous, arrhythmic percussive element of Dune that feels utterly unique, as if drawn from the bowels of Arrakis. Amongst the many components that made Dune so immersive, Zimmer’s score is one of the most remarkable. – NS

Listen/Buy: Spotify | Amazon

best movie soundtracks of the 21st century - Licorice Pizza

Various Artists – Licorice Pizza (2022)

There are numerous moments of Paul Thomas Anderson’s Licorice Pizza that have remained in my mind as ingenious pairings of music and film. Anderson—who served as curator—runs the gamut of early ’70s music, immersing the audience in the era. There are some familiar classics from the likes of David Bowie, Sonny & Cher, Paul McCartney’s Wings, and The Doors. Elsewhere there are some beautiful inclusions of Nina Simone’s “July Tree” and Clarence Carter’s “Slip Away.” But Anderson throws in some curveballs too, cleverly integrating The Chico Hamilton Quartet’s mesmeric jazz track, “Blue Sands.” Throw in a swooningly romantic original track from Jonny Greenwood and you have a soundtrack that is a vibrant joy, a vital character of Anderson’s ode to the San Fernando Valley. – NS

Listen/Buy: Spotify | Turntable Lab (vinyl)

best movie soundtracks of the 21st century - summer of soul

Various Artists – Summer of Soul (2022)

The story of Summer of Soul has become legendary since its long-overdue arrival in theaters just a few short years ago. Composed of footage from the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, the raw material for Summer of Soul sat on a shelf for decades until finally being restored in the 21st century, edited and shaped into what Treble contributor Butch Rosser proclaimed a “celebration of Blackness.” The Questlove-directed concert film is rife with outsize talent and blockbuster performances from the likes of Sly and the Family Stone, Gladys Knight and the Pips, The Staples Singers, Nina Simone and more, and the soundtrack compilation likewise spotlights moment after magic moment from what surely was an unforgettable weekend, whether through Ray Barretto’s upbeat salsa/boogaloo jam session or Sly and the Family Stone turning up the heat on “Sing a Simple Song.” – JT

Listen/Buy: Spotify | Amazon (vinyl)

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