61 of the greatest film soundtracks ever

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61. American Hustle. Released: 2013. Featuring: Donna Summer and Macca. Why it’s good: A mishmash of disco and karaoke classics like Elton John’s ‘Yellow Brick Road’, this maximum ’70s soundtrack is a guaranteed mood-enhancer.

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56. The Perks Of Being A Wallflower. Released: 2012. Featuring: The Smiths, Sonic Youth and David Bowie. Why it’s good: Compiled by Alexandra Patsavas, listening to the Perks soundtrack means immersing yourself in the world of a music-obsessed early ’90s teen. It’s a perfect fit for a coming-of-age tale about mixtapes, first-dances and “good music”.

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54. Hanna. Released: 2011. Featuring: The Chemical Brothers. Why it’s good: With sirens, hip hop samples and Middle Eastern details, The Chemical Brothers composed a creeping industrial score that trickles as an eery undercurrent beneath the story of Hanna, a teenager trained to become assassin by her father.

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51. Slumdog Millionaire. Released: 2008. Featuring: A. R. Rahman and MIA Why it’s good: Mysterious instrumentals, Bollywood numbers, MIA’s thumping ‘Paper Planes’ and of course ‘Jai Ho’ (let’s forget the Pussycat Dolls version); Rahman’s energetic soundtrack painted the final brush strokes of Danny Boyle’s vibrant image of Mumbai.

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49. 127 Hours. Released: 2011. Featuring: A. R. Rahman. Why it’s good: the hyper-real intensity of Danny Boyle’s rock-jumpin’, leg-sawin’ true-life film is made all the more unnerving by Rahman’s plangent Oscar-nominated score. Dido and Rollo Armstrong contributed lyrics to one of the songs, ‘If I Rise’. This too was nominated for an Oscar, for Best Original Song.

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48. 500 Days Of Summer. Released: 2009. Featuring: The Temper Trap, Hall & Oates, Doves. Why it’s good: OK, the film is unbearably cheesy at times, but they nailed it with the soundtrack, a warm-and-fuzzy combo of indie classics (‘Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want’) and chiming contemporary anthems (‘Sweet Disposition’).

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41. Blue Valentine. Released: 2010. Featuring: Grizzly Bear. Why it’s good: Telling the story of a harrowing break-up, this is one depressing film – and Grizzly Bear’s score doesn’t exactly perk it up, though it is very beautiful in a fuzzy-edged, understated kind of way.

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40. Shaft. Released: 1971. Featuring: Isaac Hayes. Why it’s good: Of all the great Blaxploitation soundtracks to emerge in the 70s, this is the one everybody remembers. The Theme From Shaft, with its wah-wah intro, is now cinematic shorthand for a certain kind of atmospheric cool, referenced endlessly in TV and film.

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39. Greenberg. Released: 2010. Featuring: James Murphy. Why it’s good: This low-key comedy drama starring Ben Stiller and Rhys Ifans is rescued from mediocrity by James ‘LCD Soundystem’ Murphy’s score. He didn’t write all the songs – he also picked a few choice tracks by his favourite bands, such as Galaxie 500, The Sonics, and Duran Duran.

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35. Marie Antoinette. Released: 2006. Featuring: New Order, The Strokes, Adam And The Ants. Why it’s good: A pretty terrible film, redeemed by a beautifully curated, anachronistic post-punk/electronic soundtrack. In fact you’d probably enjoy Sofia Coppola’s movie more if you were blind-folded throughout.

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34. Mean Streets. Released: 1973. Featuring: The Rolling Stones, The Ronettes. Why it’s good: ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash’, ‘Be My Baby’, ‘Please Mr Postman’ – Scorsese’s gritty masterpiece features a slew of era-defining songs to match.

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33. Moon. Released: 2009. Featuring: Clint Mansell. Why it’s good: Before he found acclaim with Black Swan, Mansell did the ambient score for this quietly mesmerising sci-fi film by Duncan Jones (David Bowie’s son).

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29. The Royal Tenenbaums. Released: 2001. Featuring: Mark Mothersbaugh. Why it’s good: The Devo lynchpin’s original tracks were peppered amongst some of the best songs of the last four decades. Nico, Bob Dylan, The Clash, The Ramones and The Velvet Underground are part of the credible line-up for Wes Anderson’s odd tale.

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27. The Straight Story. Released: 1999. Featuring: Angelo Badalamenti. Why it’s good: This is one of David Lynch’s least Lynchian films, so it makes sense that his favourite composer Angelo Badalamenti deviated from his trademark jazzy style, opting for a melancholy folk mood that perfectly complements the film’s low-key beauty.

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22. Goodfellas. Released: 1990. Featuring: Shangri-Las, Aretha Franklin. Why it’s good: So important is music to this epic movie, Martin Scorsese actually wrote some of the songs in at the scripting stage. It’s girl-group heaven, though a shame that the song that soundtracks the famous ‘enter the club’ scene – The Crystals’ ‘Then He Kissed Me’ – is not on the album.

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20. The Social Network. Released: 2010. Featuring: Trent Reznor. Why it’s good: The Golden Globe and the Oscar were well deserved. Nine Inch Nails man Trent Reznor created a cutting edge soundscape perfect for the tale of ambition and backstabbing. Grieg also crops up halfway through, which is nice.

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14. The Breakfast Club. Released: 1985. Featuring: Simple Minds. Why it’s good: This couldn’t be more 80s if it came wrapped in pink legwarmers. Opening with Simple Minds’ ‘Don’t You Forget About Me’, the soundtrack to arguably John Hughes’ best film was the work of Keith Forsey (who also produced the soundtracks to Flashdance and Beverley Hills Cop II).

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8. Clockwork Orange. Released: 1972. Featuring: Wendy Carlos. Why it’s good: Stanley Kubrick’s ultra-dark reinterpretation of Anthony Burgess’ seminal novel needed a suitably twisted soundtrack, and Wendy Carlos (credited as Walter as the album was released before her sex change op) provided a distorted and synthesised take on classical greats.

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6. The Life Aquatic. Released: 2004. Featuring: Seu Jorge, Scott Walker. Why it’s good: Devo’s Mark Motherbaugh contributes to a cohesive collection of jazzy pop and dreamy indie that includes offerings from Seu Jorge, David Bowie and The Zombies. Quirky and fantastical, but not too much.

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