PGCMAs: Best Soundtrack and Best Use of Source Music (2014)

Posted: February 5, 2015 by Daniel Simpson (PG Cooper) in PGCMAs

Written by Daniel “PG Cooper” Simpson PGCMA 2014*The above image represents 2013’s PGCMA Best Director and Best Picture winner; Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave.

Best Soundtrack

I introduced this award last year, but I’ve made some key tweaks. While last year I just looked at all non-score music from a film, but this year the focus is strictly on source music. Any music written specifically for the film is ineligible, hence why you won’t see something like Begin Again here.

Boyhood: In addition to the historical events which play roles throughout, Boyhood uses music as its primary time marker. A lot of the songs subtly indicate the approximate time frame of events, while other song choices help inform character moments. More often than not, these moments are diegetic, but every so often Linklater uses some non-diegetic music to underscore scenes poignantly.

Guardians of the Galaxy: The record-breaking soundtrack for Guardians of the Galaxy has been one of the most discussed aspects of the film and for good reason. This collection of 70s pop hits proved the perfect match for the film’s lighthearted and adventurous tone and certain song choices make for some of the film’s best jokes.

Inherent Vice: It would have been easy for Paul Thomas Anderson to fill Inherent Vice with psychedelic rock from the 1970s. It would have been period appropriate and fitting to the character, but Anderson instead opted for a more laid back, folksy soundtrack. It’s an interesting choice which serves to give the film a slightly relaxed attitude in spite of the insane plot.

Nymphomaniac: The other films in Lars Von  Trier’s Depression Trilogy (allegedly) utilize a lot of classical pierces, and while there is some of that here, Von Trier relies a lot more on pop, and especially rock/metal tracks. It gives the film an energized and loose feel. Plus anytime someone put bands like The Talking Heads and Rammstein in a movie I’m a happy camper.

Only Lovers Left Alive: I can’t say I recognized a lot of the music in Only Lovers Left Alive, as this minimal hipster rock all sort of blends together for me. Having said that, the soundtrack choices perfectly inform these aloof characters and they also work well for Jim Jarmusch’s visual aesthetic.

And the winner is…





This is definitely the least flashy of the soundtracks nominated, but that’s also why it’s so impressive. The music choices never feel intrusive, and all feel like they stem from the characters and story naturally. Additionally, Linklater does a great job picking music that is of its time without choosing obviously dated material.

Best Use of Source Music

This award looks at how a film uses pre-existing music for a desired effect. The focus isn’t so much on how good the song is, but how well it’s used.

“Führe Mich” by Rammstein, Nymphomaniac: As I alluded to earlier, I love Rammstein, and seeing them used so effectively was a real treat. Von Trier opens the film with beautiful cinematography of a gentle snowfall before cutting to a wide shot with this gem blaring over the image of a woman deserted in the street. It’s intriguing as all hell and sucks you in for the next four hours.

“Hero” by Family of the Year, Boyhood: This is one of the few examples of non-diegetic music used in Boyhood. This is played as Mason drives off to college and is the first time he really feels alone, as his own man. It’s a simple moment in keeping with the film’s low key attitude, and it makes for a pretty moving moment.

“Journey Through the Past” by Neil Young, Inherent Vice: Most of Inherent Vice sees Doc going through all sorts of tense and dangerous encounters, but this one of the few really relaxed moments. It’s a flashback scene here he and girlfriend Shasta go out to score some drugs, but end up just spending a day together in the rain set to this soothing Neil Young tune.. It’s a bizarrely sweet moment sandwiched into the surreal journey of the film. On a personal level, I grew up with a family who love Neil Young, so hearing one of his songs used so well was pretty special.

“Time in a Bottle” by Jim Croce, X-Men: Days of Future Past: Quicksiler was one of the most talked about elements of Days of Future Past, and this scene works as an excellent showcase of his powers. The visual effects of him running through the room with everyone else frozen look great and also demonstrate the characters perspective very well. The Jim Croce track is the cherry on top. The lyrics are obviously a fun little pun, but the song’s tone actually matches the scene quite well in its own way.

“Yesterday was Hard on All of Us” by Fink, Selma: A song about the uncertainty of the future and the sacrificing nature of progress is obviously very appropriate for the subject matter of Selma. This song is used near the end during the famous march the movie is based around. In some ways, this is the kind of stuff you’d expect to see in a historical biopic like this, but this is how to do it right.

And the winner is…




X-Men: Days of Future

The song choice might be a little on the nose, but there’s really nothing else that could have dethroned X-Men­ here. The scene is one of the coolest cinematic moments of 2014 and the song compliments it perfectly. I also find it highly amusing how Croce’s mellow and reflective song is a favourite of the manic and energetic Quicksilver.

  1. ianthecool says:

    Apparently in the next X-men movie they plan to use the song Genie in a Bottle. Will it be as good?

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