You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

10 Best Uses of Music in Movies in 2017

Music and film formed a potent partnership over the past 12 months, whether it was Hans Zimmer’s jarring score for Christopher Nolan’s “Dunkirk,” which served as another character in providing the on-screen tension, or the choreographed mayhem of Edgar Wright’s “Baby Driver” and David Leitch’s “Atomic Blonde,” or Iggy Pop’s sepulchral presence in Oneohtrix Point Never’s stunning soundtrack for the Safdies’ “Good Time.”

Here is a countdown of the individual songs — some original, others re-contextualized — which provided those magic cinematic moments where sound and vision perfectly meshed to become seamlessly part of a greater whole.

1. The Damned, Neat Neat Neat (“Baby Driver”): Wright’s heist movie re-genrefication is a feature-length music video choreographed to the nines with a decibel-raising soundtrack of ‘70s and ‘80s new wave, none better than this revved-up speed-punk blaring in star Ansel Elgort’s ubiquitous headphones as he gets set to put pedal to the metal. “Wait, wait, I gotta start this song over … OK, go!”

2. Dave Matthews Band, “Crash Into Me” (“Lady Bird”): One of the most telling moments in Greta Gerwig’s critically acclaimed coming-of-age saga is when star Saoirse Ronan unabashedly expresses her unhip love for this song, completely missing (or perhaps inadvertently acknowledging) its sinister themes of stalking. Credit to veteran A&R exec Michael Hill’s music supervision.

3. Oneohtrix Point Never, “The Pure and the Damned” (“Good Time”): In perhaps the year’s most innovative movie score, the mysterious Boston-raised, Brooklyn-based composer formerly known as Daniel Lopatin mirrors the Safdie brothers’ frenetic, disorienting day-and-night in the life of Robert Pattinson’s tireless, yet charismatic hustler, who rushes against time and circumstance to free his mentally challenged sibling from jail. This end credit song is a rare moment of introspective calm in the chaos.

4. Patti Cake$, “Patti $ea$on” (“Patti Cake$”): Writer/director Geremy Jasper’s remarkable feature-length debut, a Sundance sensation that fizzled at the box office, chronicles the dreams of its title character, a would-be rapper and disaffected New Jersey blue-collar teen played by Aussie Danielle Macdonald, who performs the Jasper-penned songs with the skill of a veteran MC. This one expresses their tenacious desire to escape, applying hip-hop elan to its character’s heartfelt, autobiographical boasts.

5. Grateful Dead, “Morning Dew” (“Long Strange Trip”): One of the memorable highlights of director Amir Bar-Lev’s four-hour Russian novel-esque documentary on the band was an awed recording engineer’s description of Jerry Garcia’s performance of this song at London’s Lyceum Theater accompanying footage of the actual take that ended up on the band’s classic Europe ’72 live album.

Variety’s Best of 2017

6. Mary J. Blige, “Mighty River” (“Mudbound”): This stirring, gospel-inflected anthem, heard over the end titles to Dee Rees’ powerful Netflix drama of an African-American war veteran returning to his sharecropping family in post-WWII Jim Crow Mississippi, makes Blige a double Oscar contender for best supporting actress and best original song.

7. Childish Gambino, “Redbone” (“Get Out”): Donald Glover’s ubiquitous three-time Grammy nominated funk number sets a deceptively soothing, sensual mood in Jordan Peele’s ground-shaking horror film that portrays liberal racism as even scarier than a real haunted house.

8. John Denver, “Take Me Home, Country Roads” (“Logan Lucky”): Steven Soderbergh’s return to the big screen features a typically eclectic soundtrack with the likes of Bo Diddley, Dr. John, John Fahey, and Creedence Clearwater, but this song firmly establishes Channing Tatum’s good old boy nature, joining in with his favorite singer on the radio, before returning during strategic moments in the director’s ultimately amiable rural take on his “Ocean’s” trilogy.

9. Sia feat. Labrinth, “To Be Human” (“Wonder Woman”): Another end-title anthem that has strong Oscar possibilities as it offers a surging, climactic endorsement to Patty Jenkins’ box office-shattering, proto-feminist superwoman saga.

10. The Beatles, “Because” (“Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets”): Auteur Luc Besson’s $180 million sci-fi graphic novel adaptation and unabashed “Star Wars” clone crash-landed at the U.S. box office, but not before he secured permission to use one of the Fab Four’s most dreamy melodies for a trailer that whetted the appetite apparently sated by the time the film opened.

More Film

  • Black Panther

    'Black Panther,' 'Crazy Rich Asians,' 'Westworld' Among Costume Designers Guild Winners

    “Crazy Rich Asians,” “The Favourite” and “Black Panther” walked away with top honors at the 21st annual Costume Designers Guild Awards Tuesday night, the final industry guild show before the Oscars on Feb. 24. “The Favourite” and “Black Panther” are up for the Oscar this year, along with “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs,” “Mary Poppins [...]

  • WGA Writers Contract Talks

    Talent Agents, WGA Achieve Progress in Second Round of Talks

    Hollywood talent agents and the Writers Guild of America have achieved some progress at their second negotiating session over agency regulations, according to sources close to the talks. The two sides met Tuesday, two weeks after their first meeting resulted in both sides criticizing each other, followed by the WGA holding a trio of spirited [...]

  • Aaron Paul

    Film News Roundup: Aaron Paul Honored by Sun Valley Film Festival

    In today’s film news roundup, Aaron Paul is honored, Bruce Berman is re-upped at Village Roadshow, and Paola Mendoza and Abby Sher get a book deal. FESTIVAL HONORS The Sun Valley Film Festival has selected Idaho native and three-time Emmy winner Aaron Paul as the winner of its Pioneer Award, presented by Variety for his [...]

  • Olivia Munn]EMILY'S List Pre-Oscars Brunch, Inside,

    Olivia Munn Says Brett Ratner Called Her Before His 'Howard Stern' Apology

    Olivia Munn is setting the record straight about standing up to “Rush Hour” director Brett Ratner, whom she alleges sexually harassed her over a decade ago. During a panel discussion at the Emily’s List pre-Oscars brunch at the Four Seasons Beverly Hills Tuesday morning, Munn revealed that Ratner called her in 2011 after he denied [...]

  • Flesh Out review

    Berlin Film Review: 'Flesh Out'

    Ignore the awful English-language title: “Flesh Out” is an emotionally rich, sensitively made film about a young woman in Mauritania forced to gain weight in order to conform to traditional concepts of well-rounded beauty before her impending marriage. Strikingly registering the sensations of a protagonist living between the dutiful traditions of her class and the [...]

  • Marighella review

    Berlin Film Review: 'Marighella'

    Does Brazil need a film that openly advocates armed confrontation against its far-right government? That’s the first question that needs to be asked when discussing “Marighella,” actor Wagner Moura’s directorial debut focused on the final year in the life of left-wing insurrectionist Carlos Marighella during Brazil’s ruthless military dictatorship. For whatever one might think of [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content