May 22, 2020

The music behind the movies: Lyric staff picks

Let's face itwe're spending more time in front of screens than ever. With new Netflix movies and shows coming out each week, and the shift in streaming blockbuster movie premieres, the possibilies for our small-screen viewings are endless. While we're already watching a lot of movies, why not also enjoy what we're hearing? Lyric's staff picked some of their favorite movies with beautiful or culturally significant soundtracks to add to your watch and listen lists.

A good score should have a point of view all of its own. It should transcend all that has gone before, stand on its own two feet and still serve the movie. A great soundtrack is all about communicating with the audience, but we all try to bring something extra to the movie that is not entirely evident on screen." ~ Hans Zimmer

Amadeus (1984)

Submitted by: Multiple Lyric staff members

It would not be a compilation of music movies from a leading opera company without the inclusion of Amadeus—the Academy Award Best Picture-winning film about the life of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. This film not only features some of Mozart's greatest works as the movie's soundtrack, but it also provides an insightful glimpse into the fictional yet historically based life backstage at major opera and orchestra houses during Mozart's lifetime. If you haven't already watched it in your high school choir class, it's definitely worth the watch now.

Where people can listen/watch: Available to rent on Amazon Prime

Favorite song/part in the movie? The part where Salieri, one of Mozart's rivals, describes Mozart's genius.

Braveheart (1995)

Submitted by: Mari Moroz, Public Relations Manager

When I think of a beautiful move score, the first one that comes to mind is Braveheart. I recently rewatched it and found myself in tears, not from the plot, but from the gorgeous way James Horner and the London Symphony Orchestra place the audience right in the action with William Wallace. The main Scottish motif, found sprinkled throughout the film at important moments, just makes me feel thingsand I know I’m not alone!

Where people can listen/watch: Movie available to rent on Amazon Prime; soundtrack available on Spotify.

Favorite song/part in the movie? Murron's Burial 

The Commitments (1991)

Submitted by: David Nutt, Director of Sales and Advertising

It's somewhat rare to see musicians portrayed authentically on film. I think that's part of what makes this film so special, as most of the actors are local Dublin musicians and actually performed the songs in the movie. The story follows a music fanatic who wants to put together "the hardest working band in Dublin." If you love soul music, you'll love this film.

Where people can listen/watch: Movie available to rent at or YouTube; soundtrack available on Spotify.

Favorite song/part in the movie? The audition scene.

Pride & Prejudice (2005)

Submitted by: Laura Burgos, Senior Director, Digital & Analytics

The music in this movie is just so calming and ethereal that I often play the score on a rainy day while doing a puzzle. But it’s the contemplative nature of the score, alongside the beautiful cinematography of the movie, that really makes this a standout for me.

Where people can listen/watch: Movie also available on Hulu/Starz or for rent on Amazon Prime; soundtrack available on Spotify.

Favorite song/part in the movie? The Secret Life of Daydreams

Diva (1981)

Submitted by: Magda Krance, Director of Media Relations

Long before I came to Lyric, the 1981 French thriller Diva made a vivid impression on me for its singular storyline and soundtrack. A young mail carrier, Jules, is obsessed with American diva Cynthia Hawkins (soprano Wilhelmenia Wiggins Fernandez in a riveting musical and dramatic performance), who doesn't believe in being recorded. Jules attends a recital in Paris, where Hawkins sings the aria "Ebben? Ne andrò lontana" from Catalani's La Wally. He illicitly makes a high-quality bootleg recording, and later steals the gown she was wearing from her dressing room. A series of complicated circumstances put Jules in the crosshairs of cops, criminals, and fellow superfans of the soprano. Meanwhile, he returns the gown to the soprano, and a special relationship unfolds. In French, with titles -- just like at the opera!

Where people can listen/watch: Movie available to rent on Amazon Prime.

Begin Again (2013)

Submitted by: Jessica Reinhart, VIP Ticketing Coordinator

This movie took me by surprise, as I had no idea it was a musical of sorts when I went to see it. It centers around several struggling musicians and perfectly incorporates their music into the story of the film. A beautiful love story in many ways, but also an incredible journey of self discovery and creative agency. Great for anyone who loves singer/songwriter type music! It also includes a stellar castKeira Knightly, Mark Ruffalo, and Adam Levine from the band Maroon 5.

Where people can listen/watch: Available to rent on Amazon Prime; soundtrack available on Spotify.

Favorite song/part in the movie? Lost Stars by Adam Levine

Moonstruck (1987)

Submitted by: Nick Roman, Coordinator, Board of Directors & Women's Board

When I first saw this movie as a teenager, it was my introduction to La bohème, and no surprise, the music stuck with me ever since. The beautiful score constantly plays through the movie and one of the signature scenes is when Cher and Nicolas Cage's characters see La bohème at the Met. Paired with Cher's performance, which earned her an Academy Award, and the charismatic dynamic of the characters, Moonstruck is one of the best movies with music of all time—and it's my personal favorite!

Where people can listen/watch: Movie available on Hulu, or to rent on Amazon Prime; soundtrack available on Spotify.

Favorite song/part in the movie? When Cher and Nicolas Cage's see La bohème at the Met

Mortal Kombat (1995)

Submitted by: Scott Podraza, Director of the Fund for Lyric

The Mortal Kombat video game franchise was a lightning rod for debate in the early 1990s for its depiction of violence. However, its dark, atmospheric design and rich lore made it the best possible opportunity to bring a video game to the silver screen. The outcome was a fun, fan service vehicle with a high-energy soundtrack that features a strong mix of industrial, post-grunge rock and dark ambient electronica, including The Immortals' "Techno Syndrome" (iconic to any man in his 30s). Also, it is the PERFECT mix for any workout routine.

Where people can listen/watch: Movie available on Netflix or Youtube; soundtrack available on Spotify

Favorite song/part in the movie? Late in the movie, our hero Liu Kang battles with a character called Reptile. The scene features fantastic fight choreography that's paired perfectly with Traci Lords' pulse-pumping "Control."

Moonlight (2016)

Submitted by: Dan Meyer, Institutional Partnerships Associate

Moonlight's music is a fantastic example of doing a lot with very little; small-scale orchestrations and recurring themes bring out the intimacy of the narrative without becoming a distraction. I hear the music differently every time I watch Moonlight, not to mention the next few days when the soundtrack's still stuck in my head.

Where people can listen/watch: Movie available on Netflix; soundtrack available on Spotify

Favorite song/part in the movie? "Black's Theme" is the final iteration of a musical theme that develops throughout the movie.

Garden State (2004)

Submitted by: Meaghan Stainback, Philanthropy Officer

This movie soundtrack was the soundtrack to my freshman year in college. The songs are all so well suited to an emotional teen transition, and perfectly accompany the love story that unfolds between the characters played by Zach Braff and Natalie Portman.

Where people can listen/watch: Movie available on Hulu or for rent on Amazon Prime; soundtrack available on Spotify

Favorite song/part in the movie? The scene where Zach Braff's character first meets Natalie Portman's, who states, "This song will change your life" (Zero 7/"In the Waiting Line"). Also, the cathartic scene featuring a very steamy kiss in the rain is called "The Infinite Abyss" and features the Simon & Garfunkel song "The Only Living Boy in New York."

Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit (1993)

Submitted by: Michelle Hoehne, Assistant, Office of the General Director

I recently revisited this movie with my mom when we both needed a fluffy, feel-good movie on a particularly difficult day. While many prefer the first movie (Sister Act, 1992)—and you should definitely watch both—there is so much to enjoy about the sequel. A movie that centers on BIPOC (Black/Indigenous People of Color) youth and community resilience. The chance to pretend you're warming up in a room full of other choral singers. A cast full of strong women supporting other women. The vocal majesty of Ms. Lauryn Hill. This movie remains so lovable, Lizzo paid homage at last year's MTV Movie awardsThere is power in support, resources, and opportunity.

Where people can listen/watch: Available with Disney+, or available to rent from Amazon Prime.

Favorite song/part in the movie? "Oh Happy Day"

Back to the Future (1985)

Submitted by: Spencer D. Blair, Inbound Call Center Representative

Everyone knows the Back to the Future theme music! It plays throughout the film in exciting, scary, and suspenseful ways—enhancing character emotion, plot climaxes, and more. Plus, the Back to the Future films are pretty perfectly written.

Where people can listen/watch: Available on Netflix

Favorite song/part in the movie? Back to the Future Theme

Emma (2020)

Submitted by: Anthony Freud, General Director

This movie version of the Jane Austen novel is a stylized and at times almost choreographed view of early nineteenth-century rural England. It has a delightfully unexpected soundtrack made up of a wide variety of songs and instrumental music, in an equally wide variety of styles.

Where people can listen/watch: Movie available to rent on Amazon Prime; soundtrack available on Spotify

Want more music? Check out Lyric's curated Spotify playlists to keep beautiful music part of your at-home routine or listen to the specific Spotify playlist built from the soundtracks of these movies here!

Photo credits: