By Ariana Hwang
For it’s music and words, Amélie is one movie I can fully appreciate to this day. The whimsical french film centers on the selflessness of a very charming, introverted character played by Audrey Tautou. But most of all, apart from the cinematography, the musical score really stands out. The music features an unpredictably diverse array of instruments— piano, harpsichord, banjo, bass guitar, vibraphone, and even a bicycle wheel in one song — that really help to amplify the viewer’s experience, making you feel like you’re actually in Paris for two hours.
Although Amélie is one of the many soundtracks I adore, I’ve noticed that it feels quite easy to name others that are just as fantastic. I think a true cinephile will look much closer, even into scenes where a single song seems to be symbolic, ironic, palpable, or just plain incredible with the simultaneous images appearing on screen. So if there’s one thing Amélie and I both like: it’s the details in films that no one else sees.
So here’s a list of movies where music carved up parts of my brain and thus, left these memorable scenes in them.
Sing Street (2016)
If you’re familiar at all with director John Carney and his list of other musical dramas (Once, Begin Again), here’s another movie to add to your Netflix queue. It makes even more sense to watch if you’re a fan of 80s music or anything paying homage to that era.
This scene shows young Dublin boys whom just started their band and are now making a music video called “The Riddle of The Model,” VHS style of course.
2. 50/50 (2011)
When he discovers he has a 50/50 chance of living with a rare form of cancer, Joseph Gordon Levitt’s character, Adam, begins to lose his morale in living life. When he’s at the hospital, his older, cancer-patient friend urges him to eat a pot infused macaroon. Bee Gees‘ “To Love Somebody” then, ironically, comes on in this darkly humorous scene.
3. Safety Not Guaranteed (2012)
For anyone who finds Aubrey Plaza’s deadpan humor rather amusing or likes the concept of time travel, I recommend this one to you. Don’t expect another Donnie Darko; it’s not nearly as dark. However, there were a lot of fun moments in the film, such as this scene—it’s Plaza’s character, Darius, training to shoot a gun with a guy who claims he can go back in time.
It has some little bit of The Arctic Monkeys (“Brick By Brick“) which is a band that never hurts to listen to.
4. Before I Disappear (2012)
Thanks again, Netflix. Wouldn’t have found this gem without you. And I guess you could say I’m pretty drawn to a movie that takes place in New York City, or in several other parts of the film, Brooklyn. In Before I Disappear, a man depressed by his girlfriend’s disappearance, takes his niece Sophia to the Brooklyn Bowl, a bowling alley I have been dying to go to myself. Sophia then steals the scene with choreography to a song that has her name; and might I mention, it sounds as though it’s straight from the 80s.
I thank you too, Goodnight Radio.
5. A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014)
Slow, cool, and seductive. Three words I have to describe this seemingly simple scene which is ironic because there’s a fake dressed vampire approaching a real one. You’re expecting the girl to bite and suck him to death , but she doesn’t. She acts more human instead.
6. Blue Valentine (2010)
Everyone’s lauding Ryan Gosling for his performance in La La Land. But let’s not forget this more realistic portrait of romance and masterpiece of a film. He doesn’t burst into song during every scene; unlike his latest, he plays ukelele and sings amateurishly “good” for a brief moment in Blue Valentine.
But really, having Grizzly Bear take over the film’s music was one of the director’s best decisions in my opinion. “Foreground” enhances Dean’s (Gosling) dialogue to a co-worker about being a hopeless romantic chasing a more aloof girl.
(“Foreground” cues in at 2:21)
7. Daydream Nation (2010)
My first stoner crush might have been Reece’s character, Thurston. I sympathized for Thurston for many reasons, don’t want to spoil all of them, but especially for when he gets caught in a weird love triangle with Caroline and the high school teacher she’s having an affair with (don’t worry, that’s part of the synopsis); or for the time he brings cupcakes to her door only hoping to talk to her. He was more sensitive and likable of a character than Caroline (Kat Dennings). But that’s besides the point. I did want to see their romance thicken. Especially when they saw each other at a party, like a love at first sight moment, and there were sparklers going along to a Stars song (“Your Ex Lover is Dead”).
8. Mysterious Skin (2004)
*Possible SPOILER Ending Scene*
When Silent Night transitions to Sigur Rós while Joseph Gordon Levitt delivers a tear-jerking monologue, my first thought was HOLY… rawness, I just have too many emotions right now. For a long time, JGL has proved that he could crush a number of roles— Edward Snowden, Philippe Petit, a manic pixie boy, and in this instance, a young, gay prostitute.
9. Prisoners (2013)
*Possible SPOILER Ending Scene*
Man, what an ending with a twist. What a performance by Jake Gyllenhaall, who always seemed to be his best when he was typecasted to play neurotic characters; in this film, he plays a restless detective looking for two abducted daughters. And the suspense just keeps getting better, especially when the ending comes around. You get another surprise. And, it’s “Codex” by Radiohead.
Sadly, this clip cuts just before the song plays. So I leave it up to you to see what I’m talking about.
10. Laurence Anyways (2012)
Xavier Dolan creates a stylish cinematic scene of clothes raining down on a transgender woman and another woman holding hands. It’s a complicated romance, yet they are going off to another place.
And the electronic music feels epic while it’s happening.
11. The Diary of a Teenage Girl (2015)
Couldn’t find the opening scene, but anyway, here’s the trailer of the film I had the pleasure to watch recently. Like the title suggests, the main character is a teenage girl who walks you through a narrative—taking place in the 70s— of her sexual awakening. Watch beautiful comic-like illustrations come to life as soon as it starts with the song, Dreamsong by Nate Heller featuring Amber Coffman.