I didn’t really stick to any rules when making this list; it’s a mixture of scores and songs both pre-existent and created especially for the films in question. It’s not necessarily reflective of the best music featured in films, just the ones I found most memorable and fitting. For example, the inexplicably well received Warm Bodies had a lot of great songs on the soundtrack, but didn’t use any of them particularly well so none are featured here.
15. Monsters University
Pixar’s hugely disappointing prequel contained one brief pleasant surprise for heavy metal fans, as one character’s mother is revealed to be a fan of prog-metal titans Mastodon, playing a little snippet of Island in her car. Mastodon, in a kids’ animation, it happened.
14. Wreck-It Ralph
Moving swiftly on to some cheesy synthpop, Owl City have been a guilty pleasure of mine for a few years, and seem to produce a song for every other animated film that comes out. I couldn’t help but enjoy this one that end’s Disney’s great Wreck-It Ralph.
Park Chan-wook’s English-language debut is a excellent little thriller that boasts a score from the great Clint Mansell, but the highlight of the film was this enchanting/creepy piano duet by Philip Glass.
12. Nymphomaniac (Trailer)
This is the first time Lars Von Trier has used a Rammstein song in his films. In retrospect, they seem like such a perfect fit for one another it’s a surprise he hasn’t got around to it before. Führe mich, taken from the bonus second disc of Rammstein’s 2009 album Liebe ist für alle da features in the trailer for Von Triers upcoming 4 hour epic Nymphomaniac, sure to be one the most controversial films of early next year.
11. Prince Avalanche
David Gordon Green’s return to drama also marked the first time Texan post-rock band Explosions in the Sky have scored a film since Friday Night Lights, hear teaming up for a more understated score with composer David Wingo that perfectly suits this low-key film.
10. The World’s End
The World’s End appropriately featured a good number of late eighties/early nineties music, it’s hard to pick one track but I’d have to go for This Corrosion from Eighties Goth band The Sisters of Mercy, beloved by Simon Pegg’s character in the film, they get several mentions but you don’t hear a song until the very end.
9. The Spectacular Now
Coming-of-age drama The Spectacular Now has a wonderful soundtrack by Rob Simonsen. I couldn’t find a video of the individual track I wanted so this is the song by Phosphorescent that finishes the film.
8. The Frozen Ground
So the film wasn’t the Con Air reunion everyone wanted, and didn’t manage to be as bizarrely disturbing as the real-life serial killer case that inspired it sounded like, but the film finished with this great little song, that I honestly thought was a piece of mid-nineties indie/emo, it’s actually a new song from Nathan Picard and the Vacancy called Memory Finds You.
7. About Time
About Time featured some great songs such as Ben Folds’ The Luckiest and Nick Cave’s Into My Arms (along with plenty of terrible ones) but the film’s most heart-wrenching moment was accompanied by an original piece by composer Nick Laird-Clowes.
6. Holy Motors
Cheating a bit I know as most territories got this film last year. I’m still not sure just what on earth was going on in Leos Carax’s bewildering head-scratcher, but it’s most captivating moment is a scene in which our protagonist starts playing an accordion whilst walking down the street and more musicians appear behind him.
5. Springsteen & I
This crowd-sourced documentary on Springsteen came up with a brilliant way to showcase his most well-known (and probably overplayed) song Born to Run, by chronologically editing together clips of him performing it live across several decades.
4. New World
While Park Chan-wook’s regular composer Jo Yeong-wook didn’t score Stoker, he did provide another standout score for this Korean crime thriller.
3. Cloud Atlas
Still probably my favourite film this year, Cloud Atlas had a fantastic score written by co-director Tom Tykwer with his usual collaborators Johnny Klimek and Reinhold Heil.
2. Man of Steel
Hans Zimmer had a fairly thankless task on his hands when it came to creating a new score for a Superman film, as he could realistically never expect to compose anything as iconic as John Williams’ Superman Theme has become. The film wasn’t the masterpiece I’d hoped for but Zimmer hit it out of the park with his slow building score. He also provided a great score for Rush later in the year.
Steven Price’s incredible score for Gravity was one of the very best of the year. Just try to imagine how less powerful the finale would have been without it. It’s tricky to pick one standout piece from the soundtrack but I’ve gone for the title track that accompanies the grand finale.
Honourable mentions, the other films I noted down when originally compiling this list were: Django Unchained, All is Lost, Passion, Oblivion, Pain & Gain, Thor: The Dark World, Only God Forgives. Extra special mention to Sightseers’s use of The Power of Love, which was very amusing but I really don’t like the song. I actually did enjoy hearing AFI’s 17 crimes in The Mortal Instruments but the film as so terrible I can’t rightly include it. Also to The Place Beyond the Pines, which finished with Bon Iver’s haunting The Wolves (Act I & II), that would have made the list had it not also been used in Rust & Bone last year.