The soundtrack award differs from score in that it’s meant to reward the use of pre-existing pop music throughout a film rather than newly composed score work. The function of the music in the actual movie is key here as this is not meant to be about how the music works on a soundtrack album and it isn’t necessarily meant to refer to the quality of the actual music so much as how well it works for the movie.
- 20th Century Women: 20th Century Women is ultimately a movie about generations clashing, but they aren’t the generations we’re used to seeing clash and the clash itself is more amicable than what we usually see. The late punk rock scene is a major part of the film’s plot but the soundtrack is a bit more post-punk in nature with tracks by Talking Heads, Devo, The Buzzcocks, and Siouxsie And The Banshees prominently featured. The film also makes canny use of some of the older generation’s Jazz music as a counterpoint of all this but it all bends together surprisingly well.
- American Honey: Some soundtracks feel like they’re added in after the fact as a sort of icing on the cake, but others feel baked into the film as an important part of what the film is saying about the culture being portrayed. Such is the case with American Honey which uses populist, if not always high charting, music in order to give you an idea what these characters’ lives are like. In the film they spend a lot of time listening to down and dirty trap music as well as some country music depending on who is controlling the car radio as well as some top 40 stuff like Rihanna’s “We Found Love.”
- Aquarius: Aquarius follows a woman who writes about music for a living and has a very large record collection so popular music is a big part of the movie. There are a couple of Queen tracks that are notably used, but much of the soundtrack consists of Brazilian popular music and features a lot of Bossa Nova, samba, and Brega music by artists like Gilberto Gil, Taiguara, and Maria Bethânia. I’m not an expert on these styles of music but the care done in curating this soundtrack is evident in the film.
- Deadpool: The highly irreverent Deadpool opens with a joke opening credits sequence set to, of all things, Juice Newton’s “Angel in the Morning” and from there you know you’re in for a lot of really playful soundtrack selections. We see this again with a sexual montage set to Neil Sedaka’s “Calender Girl” and also with some slightly more conventional/cool uses of Salt-n-Peppa’s “Shoop” and DMX’s “X Gon’ Give it to Ya” which still feel slightly subversive in this setting.
- Everybody Wants Some!!: When Richard Linklater made Dazed and Confused in 1993 they released not one but two soundtrack albums and they went Platinum and Gold respectively despite that film’s failure to take off at the box office. The same mainstream success has not necessarily been bewtowed upon his music selections for this sister film Everybody Wants Some!! but it’s not for lack of trying. This is a killer assemblage of early 80s pop/rock hits that was clearly handpicked by the director and from his memories.