As Martin Scorsese once said, “Music and cinema fit together naturally. Because there’s a kind of intrinsic musicality to the way moving images work when they’re put together. It’s been said that cinema and music are very close as art forms, and I think that’s true.” Indeed, the right piece of music–whether it’s an original score or a carefully selected song–can do wonders for a sequence, and today we’re looking at the 25+ films that best expressed this notion this year.

From seasoned composers to accomplished musicians, as well as a smattering of soundtracks, each musical example perfectly transported us to the world of the film. Check out our rundown of the top 25, which includes streams to each soundtrack in full.

25. The World to Come (Daniel Blumberg)

24. Little Fish (Keegan DeWitt)

23. Crestone (Animal Collective)

22. Shiva Baby (Ariel Marx)

21. Summer of 85 (JB Dunckel)

20. Titane (Jim Williams and Various Artists)

19. Ema (Nicolas Jaar and Various Artists)

18. The Green Knight (Daniel Hart)

17. The Matrix Resurrections (Johnny Klimek and Tom Tykwer)

16. C’mon C’mon and Cyrano (Bryce & Aaron Dessner and Various Artists)

15. The Worst Person in the World (Various Artists)

14. The Souvenir Part II (Various Artists)

13. The French Dispatch (Alexandre Desplat and Various Artists)

12. Last and First Men (Jóhann Jóhannsson and Yair Elazar Glotman)

11. Zola (Mica Levi)

10. Parallel Mothers (Alberto Iglesias)

9. Dune (Hans Zimmer)

8. All Light, Everywhere and Ascension (Dan Deacon)

7. West Side Story (Leonard Bernstein, Stephen Sondheim, and Cast)

6. The Power of the Dog and Spencer (Jonny Greenwood)

5. Summer of Soul (Various Artists)

4. The Velvet Underground

3. Licorice Pizza (Various Artists)

2. Drive My Car (Eiko Ishibashi)

1. Annette and The Sparks Brothers (Sparks)

Special mention: The most towering accomplishment as it relates to music and cinema this year, The Beatles: Get Back, also deserves a shout-out, with both a super deluxe version of Let It Be and a user-generated playlist of all the available music featured in Peter Jackson’s documentary.

Explore our complete best of 2021 coverage.

No more articles