While I am unable to hold a note and struggle to hold an instrument; music in the movie always fascinates me. If you have a good soundtrack or a performance I’ll hone in on it right away. The year 2014 had some excellent scores and singers so this, non ranking, list showcases the more interesting musical moments.
(NOTE: This article was originally written before I saw WHIPLASH. Want to know my thoughts on that Best Picture nominee? *Spoiler alert: It’s really good* Here’s my review to find out)
MUPPETS MOST WANTED-“We’re Doing A Sequel”
Like Kermit and Fozzy sing in the opening number, Muppets Most Wanted isn’t as good as the original. But what gave us a lot of hope is a very catchy dig at Hollywood. In an age where sequels are the norm we listen to The Muppets give us countless reasons why sequels do and do not work. I have a feeling a ton of actors have thought to themselves: “I thought this was the end but no, we get to do it all again.” The uneven sequel itself has a couple of solid songs involved but for the most part the film never reaches the same height as the beginning.
THE NUT JOB-“Gangnam Style”
Never before has pop culture confused the masses until The Nut Job’s connection to the South Korean singer Psy. Not only does it feel out of place but with the song being well over a year old it feels dated as anything. Add in the creepiest “cameo” in history at the end credits and it adds more to the troubles that this animated film delivers.
INTO THE WOODS-“Stay With Me”
There has been evidence before that Meryl Streep could sing (Mamma Mia) that goes along with the rest of her arsenal. But it wasn’t until this specific number where the Witch sings to Rapunzel when I realized how incredible she is. Until then Streep’s performance as the Witch was a lot of fun and over the top. But this piece is incredibly well sung but also emotionally devastating at the same time. It is a shame that since these aren’t original songs Into The Woods has no chance for any musical Oscar nominations. But, if anything, this song clinches yet another nomination for Meryl Streep which is well deserved.
X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST-“Quicksilver Saves the Day”
What is easily the best scene of 2014, this is also the best showcase of a superhero’s (mutant or otherwise) powers since Nightcrawler in X2. Clearly Director Bryan Singer has a mindset in how to stage superpowers and with Quicksilver he puts all other super speeders to shame. Maybe it is because Quicksilver is clearly enjoying himself as he causes mayhem or how Jim Croce’s “Time in a Bottle” is the perfect (and slow mind you) rendition as the scene plays out. It only lasts two minutes but it has stuck with me since the film’s release which should say it all.
FRANK-“I Love You All”
With a haunting melody and surprisingly good performance by Michael Fassbender, the final song to showcase the bizarre band The Soronprfbs might bring a tear to your eye. What makes Frank such a great movie though is how it showcases the difficulty of making it as an indie band in today’s climate. This had a bit of a quiet release so I urge anyone to go and give it a shot and see what I’m talking about. If anyone go on iTunes and get the album as it’ll be one of the more unique experiences you’ll listen too.
THE LEGO MOVIE-“Everything Is Awesome”
Title kinda says it all really…
I don’t think I have ever heard a piece of score where it starts with dread and then ends on a hopeful note. Taking place in my favorite scene of the film we hear these loud, Inception-like ‘WAMPS’ as this Axe Gang is butchering our heroes. Then, out of the blue, we go to the back of the train as more of the protesters get their torches ready to fight back. The image of a one armed man yelling to fight as the music swells up gives me goosebumps every time. For the most part the film Snowpiercer is a very strange, but highly entertaining, piece of an action movie. Marco Beltrami’s score is nothing but serious and because of that it makes it weird. Makes sense? Ah, just watch the movie to figure it out.
Birdman is a unique film in many ways but one of the key aspects is its score. For the most part all we hear is Antonio Sanchez’s drums and the overall jazz theme makes it stand out from any other score. You don’t hear this kind of percussion beat in films so, as strange as this sounds, it feels unearthly just like the film itself. Even when the film goes into some classic pieces (not done by Sanchez) it throws you for a complete loop. What makes it all infuriating though is that this film, and specifically Sanchez himself, cannot be nominated for an Oscar for score based on a technicality. That definitely makes this the biggest injustice for film in 2014.