With the Grammy nominees announced on Wednesday night, we at Screen Junkies got pretty jealous that the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences gets to get all judgey with music. Then we remembered that even though we’re a movie and television site, movies have soundtracks. Soundtracks made of MUSIC! (With us yet? No? Ok.) We can rank movie soundtracks. And you can read about them.

However, simply ranking soundtracks is an exercise in futility, because we would either alienate the readers with esoteric selections, or just laud a bunch of mainstream crap that’s so bland it’s offensive. Huh. I have a little more respect for the Grammy voters now.

Anyway, there are some truly horrible films out there that were a part of our lives only because they were fortunate enough to have inspired killer soundtracks that managed to outlive the legacy of their films. Seriously. When was the last time you thought of the movie Judgment Night?

Judgment Night

In the birth of his career, Denis Leary was a horrible actor. Just terrible. But because of his appeal to the MTV crowd, films managed to shoehorn him in to do his little rants and leave. No harm, no foul. He was the star heavy of Judgment Night acting opposite Jeremy Piven, Emilio Estevez, and Cuba Gooding Jr. Not good.

If only the film was as inspired as the soundtrack which exclusively featured collaborations between rock and rap acts doing original songs. While it’s a decidedly 90’s snapshot at both, where the hell else would you hear Del Tha Funkee Homosapian perform with Dinosaur Jr or Helmet mix it up with House of Pain? The results aren’t always successful, but it’s nice to hear so many angsty bands get out of their element with rappers.

Tron: Legacy

It’s all Daft Punk, all the time on this soundtrack, which serves as the one memorable aspect of the this sequel no one really asked for. Daft Punk forgoes their normal brand of electronic pop to create a much more symphonic vibe. The end result provides a gravity and intensity that the film can’t match, but if you’re working out or perhaps going to ride lit motorcycles against your nemesis in some sort of high-stakes drag race, perhaps you can do a better job than Joseph Kasinski did.

Twilight: New Moon

Predictably, the first Twilight soundtrack appeared to be a random amalgamation of dated artists and poppy emo, but by the time New Moon rolled around, it seems that the producers had a more focused approach. They got no less than Thom Yorke, Death Cab, BRMC, Lykke Li, Editors, and Band of Skulls to provide the ambiance for scenes of Taylor Lautner’s wet, wet abs.

No matter how good you think this installment of Twilight was, the soundtrack is better.

Grosse Point Blank

Not without its charm, Grosse Point Blank is a mess of a film, as any film with Dan Aykroyd as a bad guy is expected to be. I have a soft spot for this film, but upon reflection, I realize that all the scenes I enjoyed were the result of a killer and diverse soundtrack that offered second-wave ska, Pete Townshend, and Guns n’ Roses. The soundtrack is a delightful mess that works as a whole for reasons beyond comprehension. Watch the above video and try to disagree.

Purple Rain

Prince is a very bad actor. Purple Rain is a very bad movie. But the soundtrack is full of enough Prince classics like “Let’s Go Crazy” and “Darling Nikki” that it can still be enjoyed as a big music video compilation. But anyone who tells you that they love the film Purple Rain is guilty of graduating from the Kevin Smith School of Nostalgia Blindness. Sure, the film can be enjoyed on a campy level, but the soundtrack can be enjoyed on every level, which is a rarity.

Garden State

I’m hesitant to praise even this soundtrack, as I have a seething hatred of this whiney, whiney film. And while The Shins won’t change your life, as Natalie Portman promises, they are one of a number of good indie artists on the soundtrack. Sure, the characters are emotional wrecks and Zach Braff really piled on the fromage in his debut, but the truth is that emotional hipsters sadly have pretty good taste in music, so try to co-opt their music without also getting their baggage.

50 First Dates

While a serviceable romantic comedy, 50 First Dates is still pretty awful overall. It’s hard to distinguish between Along Came Polly, which is a red flag right there. Its one saving grace is its soundtrack, which like Judgment Night’s is largely conceptual in that every song is a cover of an 80’s song, but in a reggae style. Lots of songs don’t work (like the 311 cover of “Love Song”) but those that do allow the listener to revisit some spectacular songs in a completely new way.

It’s the most innovative thing that Adam Sandler’s been a part of in years.

Soundtracks I Wanted to Include on This List, But the Films Were Too Good:

So I Married An Axe Murderer


The Crow

New Jack City

Above the Rim