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10 Film Soundtracks That Are Way Better Than The Films

21 January 2016 | Features, Film Lists | by Owen Mortner

soundtrack better than film

From the very first days of silent films, movies were paired with music. Studios realized that in employing a cinematic score, they could illicit a stronger emotional response from the viewer. This have given rise to an industry of film score composers and orchestras. A score is also a basic concept of modern film theory. Soundtracks have now become so ingrained in her consciousness that they are often indistinguishable from their films.

In an age of heightened cinematic intensity, Soundtracks often slip under the radar, counteracted by the powerhouse acting or special effects. A soundtrack that seamlessly complements a film is a rare and special cinematic experience. Even rarer, is a soundtrack that so severely outshines the film that it either becomes detached from the film, or simply exposes the contrast of quality. These are ten soundtracks that are way better than the films.


10. Saturday Night Fever

Saturday Night Fever

Saturday Night Fever is one of those films that has been sanctified as a classic and therefore has escaped a certain degree of critical scrutiny. The film itself was made on a thin, and technically weak plot structure, and features generally uninventive technique. John Travolta’s oscar-nominated turn garnered the film enough momentum to achieve a positive reception, but the heart of the film is the Bee Gee’s immortal soundtrack.

The Bee Gee’s were experiencing a wind-down in their popularity when they contributed the score for Saturday Night Fever. Debuting previously unheard songs in the film. The tunes themselves have unquestionably gained a longer life-span, and continue to be played in reference to Saturday Night Fever, as oppose to the reverse. This, and their continued popularity, has undeniably cemented the soundtrack into the pantheon of movie music.


9. The Passion of the Christ

The Passion of the Christ

Mel Gibson’s visceral and gory epic recounting the last days of Jesus, was made in 2004 shortly after his acting work in the Patriot, and his oscar sanctified success with Braveheart. The film was heavily criticized as being commercialized, irreverent and excessively violent. Despite a notably more positive slant from the New York Times, and Roger Ebert, it went down as a controversial feature, partly due to Gibson’s subsequent and widely publicized antisemitic comments.

Listening to John Debney’s score for the film, it is clear that the a serious amount of personal passion was inherent in its creation. John Debney, who has worked in a wide variety of genres, studio labels, and directors, has always been a respected composer, though has never risen to a hollywood legend with the likes of Howard Shore, and James Horner.

The score of The Passion of the Christ employs a rich array of Middle-Eastern harmonics, scalar percussion, and moving choral vocals. The powerful, eastern tinge clearly transcends the shallow nature of the film, and stands alone as a coherent and beautiful work of music.


8. Batman Forever


Joel Schumacher nearly sounded the death knell for the Batman Franchise, when this horribly executed action film hit theaters in 1995. Featuring a series of half-hearted and excruciating performances by Jim Carrey and Val Kilmer. The plot, unrecognizable from the comics is lost amidst the dull-witted writing and direction.

A sad attempt from the man who would later pen “A Beautiful Mind,” the film’s screenplay features senseless and thinly spread dialogue that fails to produce tension or warrant any emotional response from the viewer.

In comparison, the soundtrack, which features a medley of pop hits as well as an undercurrent by Elliott Goldenthal, is quite decent. A cast of pop stars such as Nick Cave and Seal supply an eclectic tempo for the film’s nonstop action. Listening to the soundtrack on its own, brings to light its blatant superiority to its cinematic counterpart, as well as its sheer musical quality.


7. Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events


Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate events was a 2004 film based on the book series of the same title. It was directed by Brad Silberling and starred Jim Carrey at his most eccentric and theatrical. The film attempted to condense a 13 part series into one feature length film, and so left a few awkward gaps and mismatched story arcs and resolutions in the plot. Despite the always spectacular Timothy Spall, and the cinematography of “Chivo,” Emmanuel Lubeski, the film failed to achieve any serious recognition.

Hitting theaters in 2004, the film received moderate reviews, neither pinning it as totally good, or bad. The film did however receive a solitary oscar nomination for the soundtrack, but was beat out by Finding Neverland.

Thomas Newman composed a highly unusual, and nontraditional score that incorporated brass timpany, strings, and a delicate piano. The score is conducted in such a way that it brings the whimsical and macabre charm of the novels to screen and your ears, in a far better way than the film did on its own. As a separate piece of music, the soundtrack’s quirky, inventive force of personality, highlights the brilliance of the novels in a way the film itself never did.


6. The Mission

The Mission (1986)

The Mission is a film that ended up not stringing together as a cohesive or believable narrative. Attempting to encompass an epic transcendent story, with poor writing, and second-rate acting. The Mission is another story culturally appropriated and told through a white-man’s eyes, similar to Spielberg’s subsequent Amistad.

In 1984, Roland Joffe set out the make a truly ambitious film, that would bring the life a story of colossal historical magnitude as well as symbolic and cultural significance. The screenplay, written by British playwright, Robert Bolt, and adapted from his book by the same name failed to translate well to the screen and produced an awkward scenic structure. The film didn’t come through to the scope it was intended for, making it unwieldy, and unwatchable.

Ennio Morricone is cemented in history as perhaps the most revered score composer of all time. Having produced the scores to such classics as: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, A Fistful of Dollars, and Cinema Paradiso, his wide array of work is unmatched in the field.

The moving reverie of strings, flutes and woodwinds he brings to The Mission ultimately delivers the soaring and epic transcendency the film itself was originally trying to achieve; It was included in AFI’s top 100 Music in the Movies, and is far superior as a creative piece.



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  • Klaus Dannick

    Very nifty list! Agree with some of these definitely.

  • Owen Mortner

    Thanks, It’s my first list, so I really appreciate it

  • Good list…

  • Bird E

    Vangelis’ immense soundtrack for Ridley Scott’s 1492: Conquest of Paradise

  • Rudi

    The Village is one of my favourite movies ever, but of course everyone’s entitled to put it on top of their ‘hate list’ (although I definitely enjoy the love lists on TOC better, since we’re all movie lovers). The bad part here is that the writer believes The Village is all about the plot twist, which means even after more than a decade he still doesn’t understand what’s the movie about.

    So once again, The Village is a moving drama, one that doesn’t even need a ‘plot twist’ to go straight for your heart. It’s a movie with beautiful cinematography, with very emotional performances, even with one of the most emotional scenes I have ever seen (the balcony scene).

    The plot twist, just as the trailer, was meant to confuse audiences. It was nothing more than a little joke of Shyamalan to underline the fact that people were expecting a certain kind of thriller after The Sixth Sense, Unbreakablem and Signs. He must be very pleased that after almost 12 years people are still falling for this.

    But even so, please don’t hate what you don’t understand. And focus on more positive lists, you could also have written about the beautiful soundtracks from this list without attacking the movies.

    • Owen Mortner

      um, it’s called soundtracks that were WAY BETTER THAN THE MOVIES.

  • Ozhan

    The Village was awesome. I still don’t get why there is so much hate about this movie.

    • Simone Bionda

      because other Shyamalan movies are much worse than The Village.
      it is difficult to give credit to a so discontinuous director

      nevertheless I just watch “the visit”: same plot device you can find in
      The village, it works 🙂

  • Luca

    The Mission is a beautiful film! It has not a awkward scenic structure, the soundtrack fits with the picture producing a really sensitive movie, which makes us think deeply of what happened to the American people during colonization. It was not meant to be a blockbuster with a well structured screenplay with lots of dialogues. We are not in a Tarantino’s far west movie (never seen cowboys talking so much in my life), we are in the 1500s, indios from one side, conquistadores from the other. Unwatchable? I doubt it.

  • Dee

    Dracula was not sticking to the plot or tone of the novel at all.

  • Owen Mortner

    If you remove the plot device from the village, it becomes an extremely weak romance story, that is completely carried by it’s soundtrack

  • Jonathan Broncucia


  • Miriam Olken

    Any of the Twilight movies. Not a huge fan of the actual movies, but decent soundtracks. Also Matthew Broderick’s Godzilla not great movie, sorry Reno you couldn’t even save it, but that soundtrack had one of the best varieties of artists; how at young age I found out who Ben Folds Five, Food Fighters, Greenday, the Wallflowers/Jacob Dylan all on one album!

  • Adam McDaniel

    My favorite score to a TERRIBLE movie is OMEN III: THE FINAL CONFLICT. I can’t stand the film, but I adore Goldsmith’s music.

  • Richard Davidson

    ” A cast of pop stars such as Nick Cave…”
    Nick Cave… Pop star?!

  • Jeroen Ledderhof

    The Soundtrack of Judgement Night was way better than the film.

    The same of the Spawn soundtrack.

    • David Tondeur


  • Albert Petrosyan

    Tron: Legacy

  • Brig

    Judgement Night. The movie was forgettable but I still play songs from the soundtrack today. It’s mix of rap and hip-hop with Metal and Grunge bands shaped a new genre of music we still hear today.

  • Owen Mortner

    The village is awful

  • David Pollison

    Tangerine Dream’ s soundtrack for The Keep should be on this list. Also Georgio Moroder’s score for The Cat People is also amazing.

  • Carl Edgar Consiglio


  • Stephus

    Twilight saga!! The soundtracks are awesome and the movies suck.

  • Adrian

    Can’t stop wondering how The Mission would have turned out if directed by Terrence Malick.