If there's one thing that's stuck out over the past six months it's that 2015 has been amazing for showing off great soundtrack moments in movies. Even films that haven't been all that great overall have featured individual scenes or shots where the score just made every beat and theme in movie click, even if for only a split-second.

Although there hasn't been anything as spectacular as last year's hauntingly epic soundtrack for Under the Skin, there have been so many times in 2015 cinema where a film's music has completely allowed a picture to transcend the sum of its parts, creating a defining cinematic experience in the process. But perhaps most surprisingly, the best music moments in 2015 haven't only come predominantly from arthouse or low-key independent flicks. This year, even the biggest summer blockbusters have taken time to showcase smaller montages or punctuated their most bombastic scenes with the most satisfying licensed track.

Usually only discussed as a footnote on end of the year lists, it felt like there'd been so many instances where a piece of music utterly elevated a film this year that we simply had to create a list to show off these pitch-perfect moments of movie music. The past 6 months have seen an eclectic mix of pulpy, harrowing or just completely gleeful scenes that stood out as being distinctly memorable that it would have been a disservice to not show off the very best of the best. You better be ready for plenty of superlatives.

Spoilers ahead.

Lost River

Ryan Gosling's directorial debut took way more flack upon first release than it deserved. Criticised as being unoriginal, Lost River is actually a rather effective nightmarish thriller, and the fact that it takes inspiration from the likes of David Lynch or Terrence Malick doesn't lessen it in any way. While it's admittedly indulgent, and you get an occasional sinking feeling that there's not much going on behind the gloss and the gloomy aesthetic, Lost River still delivers some exceptionally memorable sequences, most notably a hauntingly grim rendition of Marty Robbins' 'Cool Water'.

The scene completely epitomizes the entire atmosphere of Gosling's debut, and if you didn't understand the type of film Lost River was before, then you'll know exactly what you're getting yourself into just because of this one scene. The threatening performance by Ben Mendelsohn punctuates a series of striking images that showcases the film's brash and tactile visual aesthetic. While the movie itself might not be fondly remembered in the future, this scene will no doubt go down as one of the most memorable of 2015.

Kingsman: The Secret Service

One of the most satisfying and enjoyable action movies of the year (hell, one of the most satisfying and enjoyable movies of the year), Kingsman: The Secret Service achieved for spy films what Kick Ass did for superhero movies. However, it's one scene in particular that acts as the confident turning point of Matthew Vaughn's latest picture. A kinetic and violent action scene in a church grows increasingly bat-shit while Lynyrd Skynyrd's 'Free Bird' ramps up in the background, and the over the top ridiculousness of it all completely embodies Kingsman's commitment to sheer fun spectacle.

Acting as the moment where Vaughn's film falls into place, once it's over with you get the feeling that literally anything could happen next. Underscored by Skynyrd's classic, the superbly choreographed fight scene is structured with such an unrelenting sense of tension that it never fails to take your breath away, even on multiple viewings. While the below video showcases the scene in all its glory, it's definitely best to view it within the context of the film itself, as the additional understanding of character significance and plot relevance is partly why the sequence works so well.

A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night

Billed as the first "Iranian Vampire Movie" (a claim which, as it turns out, isn't entirely true), Ana Lily Amirpour's gorgeously photographed black and white horror film is an absolute treat. Notable for its minimalist use of silence rather than a deeply affecting soundtrack, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night's subversive playfulness with music creates an eerie and alienating atmosphere. The abundance of silence and ambience however makes the few times where the film actually indulges in moments of commercial music all the more important, especially one scene that will no doubt go down as one of the most memorable moments in 2015 cinema as a whole.

Punctuating its major character beats with an eclectic variety of tracks, the scene that stands out the most comes from two simplistic shots, both underscored by White Lies' 'Death'. Used perfectly in two long takes, there's an uncertainty in the drawn out and wordless nature of the scene, as you get the feeling it could either end in a brutal murder or a romantic character beat. Elegant and simple, the scene is unexpectedly powerful, and with the mesmerising and immersive shot Amirpour creates one of the most breath-taking sequences of 2015.


Where to even start with Whiplash? Damien Chazelle's 2015 Oscar contender was practically made to be featured on lists like this. Aided by a fantastic sense of editing and a superb grasp of pacing, this jazz-inspired film is one of the few movies to ever turn watching a character playing the drums into an intense experience. Through kinetic visuals and great lead performances by Miles Teller and J.K Simmons, Chazelle is able to turn the musical numbers of Whiplash into exciting and suspenseful action set-pieces in their own right.

While Miles Tellers' Andrew perfects his craft over the course of the film, the rivalry between him and J.K Simmons' instructor only grows more and more hostile. The vitriolic back and forth between student and tutor culminates in a final be all or end all performance where all of the film's passion and anger erupts into an absolutely insane performance of the epic titular jazz tune. You'd never think that a near 20 minute drum solo could produce a more suspenseful climax than any horror finale, yet Whiplash's extended musical number has you on the edge of your seat with every single beat.


It was easy to get emotionally caught up in Selma. In fact, with Ava DuVernay's spectacular sense of character and action, it was practically impossible to not succumb to its sentimental whims. Even so, there wasn't a track this year that summed up the feelings Selma evoked more perfectly than John Legend and Common's 'Glory'. Barely actually featured in the movie itself (not until the credits, anyway), the epic track captured the same emotions the film conjured so effortlessly, and with such a sense of grandeur and passion that the tune actually threatened to overshadow the movie itself.

I personally knew the song was the perfect complement to the picture once it began to swell over the movie's end credits. It's the first time in my entire cinema-going experience that the whole audience stayed throughout the credits without the expectation of seeing a post-credit stinger.

Although Selma was perhaps wrongly ignored at the Academy Awards, the performance of the song on the evening more or less stole the whole show, reminding those in attendance just how important the film was to 2015 cinema as a whole. The rendition just felt like a victory, and established DuVernay's picture as one of the most exceptional pieces of the work of the whole year.

Honourable Mentions:

St Vincent: Not eligible for the list because it released in December of 2014, Theodore Melfi's end credit sequence is one of the best I've ever seen.

Inherent Vice: Missed out because although there are great musical moments in the film, there isn't one particular sequence that stands out on its own. Still, probably best soundtrack of the year.

Avengers: Age of Ultron: THERE ARE NO STRINGS ON ME!

Ex Machina: You heard it here first, Oscar Isaac wins every Academy Award in 2016 because of this dance sequence.