Drive (Dir. Nicolas Winding Refn)
Song: "Nightcall" - Kavinsky feat. Lovefoxxx
This song immediately brings you into the world of Drive. Playing over the opening credits, this chilled-out electro-80's sounding track let's you know that Drive is not a rockem sockem action flick, in fact it borrows more from the French New Wave Movement of the 50's and 60's than Speed. This song is strangely catchy, offbeat, moody, and although I'm no music connoisseur, is unlike anything I've ever heard - much like the film it accompanies.
Rango (Dir. Gore Verbinski)
Score: Hans Zimmer
Song: "The End of the Road" (Originally from The Kingdom) - Danny Elfman
Rango was definitely my favorite animated movie of this year thanks to Pixar tripping over Cars 2. The soundtrack is pretty eclectic, with Hans Zimmer's booming score underlying the whole piece, the Mexican trio Los Lobos singing in for Rango's theme song, and other random pieces of music are featured as well, including a banjo-laden version of "Ride of the Valkyries" (who knew banjos could make things so much more epic?). My personal favorite music moment is actually a piece originally written for the forgotten 2007 film, The Kingdom, but the piece's use in this movie gave me goosebumps. Great movie, great soundtrack.
Hanna (Dir. Joe Wright)
Score: The Chemical Brothers
Much like how last year's Tron: Legacy and The Social Network attained score-writing newbies yet highly notable musical talents to compose the soundtrack, Hanna follows suit, giving the acclaimed British electronic music duo The Chemical Brothers a shot at establishing the mood for this interesting, offbeat action flick. They hit the nail on the head with this - it's fast, it's electric, it's weird: exactly what was needed. My favorite track is called "Container Park," and during the film it takes place during the final action scene in the movie.
The Muppets (Dir. James Bobin)
Music Supervisor: Bret McKenzie
The Muppets was pretty much a love letter to Henson's talking puppets from a generation of now-famous talents who grew up on them. Bret McKenzie, best known for his role on HBO's Flight of the Conchords, was in charge of the overall music and wrote most of the original songs, including my two personal favorites, "Life's a Happy Song" and "Pictures in My Head." The first is truly one of the catchiest and happiest Muppets tunes ever created, and the second almost had me in tears over a talking puppet frog singing to portraits. Also included as a bonus is a barbershop quartet version of Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" simply because I shat a brick when that happened in the movie. The Muppets are too awesome for words.
Martha Marcy May Marlene (Dir. Sean Durkin)
Song: "Marcy's Song" - John Hawkes
Martha Marcy May Marlene doesn't have much music and its "score" is limited to mostly the diagetic sounds of nature and the farmhouse. However, in one of the best and most powerful scenes in the film, John Hawkes (Winter's Bone), a cult leader who has lured many lost young girls into his farmhouse, sings a special song for his newest recruit, Martha. The song encompasses everything that works in the film and is as dark, mysterious, and haunting as its best scenes.
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (Dir. David Fincher)
Score: Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
Song: "Immigrant Song" - Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross feat. Karen O.
Holy mother of fuck, this is the best score of 2011 hands down. Reznor and Ross have once again teamed up with The Social Network director David Fincher and have outdone themselves. As of this writing I have yet to see the final film, but this makes me extremely excited to see the final product. Before the trailers for the movie came out, I really was not very into the idea of this adaptation. I mean, not only have I read the book, but I've already seen the story put to screen in the Swedish-language version, which only came out in the US a year or so ago. But that trailer, booming with a techno-garage rock version of Led Zeppelin's "Immigrant Song" and quickly cutting from one dark, perfectly beautiful frame of film to the next I was won over. Can't wait for this now - it's going to be badass.
There you have it - I hope you enjoyed listening and feel free to leave your thoughts, comments, and/or criticisms!