Best Soundtracks to Movies You Probably Missed This Year

There was a lot of great music in movies this year. (See post about the best soundtracks of 2008). But there were also some good tunes in movies most people missed, such as Charlie Bartlett, The Wackness and Slumdog Millionaire. The first two are already out on DVD and the third is still in theaters, so you have no excuses for checking them out. If you love them, add your feedback here. If you don’t, let us know why. Here are the highlights.

Charlie Bartlett

A lot of people compared Charlie Bartlett to Ferris Bueller. Both featured smart alec teenagers who stayed one step ahead of the system. But we will have to see if Charlie Bartlett achieves the cult status of the latter. It is certainly funny enough to do so, but most people missed the movie when it came out in the theater.

The music fuels the movie. (Here’s the complete list of songs), with the highlight being five songs from Spiral Beach, a local band from the Toronto area, where the film was shot. They also star in the party scene toward the end of the movie. You can never go wrong adding a couple Eels songs to the mix too (“Hey Man” and “Mr. E’s Beautiful Blues”). Cast members Anton Yelchin, Hope Davis and Kat Dennings also belt out a number of songs, ranging from “Yankee Doodle” and a couple versions of “If You Want to Sing Out, Sing Out” to the Theme Song from All in the Family – “Those Were the Days.”

Here’s Day OK by Spiral Beach:

The Wackness

Sixteen songs to tell the tale of early 90’s New York through the eyes of a good-hearted drug dealer trying to find his way in the world alongside Ben Kingsley the psychiatrist who trades advice for dime bags of dope.

Nas kicks off The Wackness with “The World Is Yours,” an ironic anthem for a shy teen whose extant ventures take him to exotic places such as Queens and Brooklyn but no further. Raekwon’s Heaven and Hell sets the tone for the party, where Lucas finds and loses the girl of his dreams. In another funny twist, Method Man the actor talks about Notorious B.I.G., while listening to “The What,” a song that Method Man the rapper recorded with Biggie in the early 90s. Not surprisingly for the period, the love song features Faith Evans and the love scene is told through R. Kelly’s Bump N’ Grind. But it doesn’t stop there. A walk through the park features a sample of Lou Reed’s Walk on the Wild Side, from A Tribe Called Quest’s “Can I Kick It.”

The two most random songs on the soundtrack are the doctor’s picks – first on the jukebox – “Season of the Witch” by Donovan; and then on his mixtape – Mott the Hoople’s “All the Young Dudes.” Yet both are perfect picks and the latter is particularly appropriate, given that Ben Kingsley spends the movie longing to be a young dude and passing on the wisdom of an old, not quite sage.

For these reasons and many more, The Wackness may be the best soundtrack of the year. For me, it is the rap equivalent of Garden State: music was as essential to the telling of both stories. In fact, even though High Fidelity was all about mixtapes, the mixes in The Wackness were far better and more telling than the former. That is why I can say without reservation that, as Stephanie, the psychiatrist’s step daughter would say, “The Wackness is the Dopeness.”

Here’s “The What” by Notorious B.I.G. featuring Method Man:

Slumdog Millionaire

If there was one song that seemed to pop up everywhere in movies and movie trailers this year, it was Paper Planes by M.I.A. There are two versions of the song in Slumdog Millionaire, as well as another song by M.I.A. that opens the movie, O Saya, with A.R. Rahman.

A.R. Rahman delivers one of the best scores of the year in easily one of the best movies of the year too. Throw in a half dozen other tunes and you have an energetic, engaging soundtrack that takes you for a ride, from the slums to the mansions of a city that evolves along with the discarded children who struggle to find happiness and each other as their lives take them on different tracks.

You can find the videos and downloads for the songs from Slumdog Millionaire at Reelsoundtrack.

Here’s O Saya by M.I.A. and A.R. Rahman:


~ by montelutz on December 31, 2008.

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