Last week saw the limited release of Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master, and the director is currently receiving the type of media love reserved for those who rarely misstep and whose work is hailed as classic the moment it's released. What's always interested me about Anderson is his ability to perfectly place music in his films, whether it's having the cast of Magnolia perform an Aimee Mann song, or using the ominous scores provided by Radiohead's Jonny Greenwood.
Anderson isn't the only director with this talent. Here are ten scenes from films made better by the inclusion of a simple song.
See also: 35 Songs Hollywood Needs to Stop Using
Bruce Springsteen's "I'm On Fire," The Hunter Early in the 2011 Australian film The Hunter, Willem Dafoe's mercenary character has a conversation with his boarder's daughter about classical music, in which the young lass dutifully informs him she only likes "The Boss," like her missing father. This moment becomes poignant later in the film as Dafoe, fresh off a 12-day hunt, returns to family's home and sets about getting the house's generator running. As the electricity cranks, we're witness to a needle dropping on a record and Springsteen's "I'm On Fire" playing throughout the house, and we're treated to a starling bit of heartbreak. For the first time, we see the young girl's mother rise from her pill-aided slumber to wander outside in hopes of finding her husband returned. The look of shock on her face as she realizes she's mistaken is only multiplied by the haunting tone of the Boss' lyrics.
Justin Timberlake lip syncs The Killers' "All These Things That I've Done," Southland Tales Though his debut film Donnie Darko failed to light up the box office, Richard Kelly was able to secure the type of funding most sophomore directors rarely receive, due to the cult following Darko earned. What he did with that funding, while ambitious, turned out to be less than spectacular. Featuring an all-star cast (well, for 2006) that included Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Sean William Scott, Sarah Michelle Geller, Mandy Moore, Amy Poehler and Justin Timberlake, Southland Tales was Kelly's attempt at dystopian satire that ripped into the issues of a post-9/11 America. Unfortunately, what we got was convoluted plot holes and actors who seemed wildly out of place.
One scene from the film does stand out with its audacity: After selling drugs to his dentist's kid, Timberlake's soldier-narrator performs a lip sync to The Killers' "All These Things That I've Done" while wearing a blood-covered shirt, swinging around a full Budweiser and interacting with a team of dancers in nurse garb while walking through an arcade. It's easily the high point of the film. Well, that and the line, "Pimps don't commit suicide."