88 Waiting to Exhale
(1995) The problem with most contemporary R&B is its click-track mechanization, its icy detachment from anything resembling "soul." That's why Waiting to Exhale feels like such a lush and stirring pop landmark: Studio pasha Babyface gathered a royal court of divas (Whitney Houston, Aretha Franklin, Brandy, Toni Braxton, and Mary J. Blige) and coaxed them all to dig deep.
89 Jackie Brown
(1997) Quentin Tarantino's movie has plenty of street grit and '70s action heroine Pam Grier, so what better accompaniment than rough-edged, pre-disco R&B by the likes of Bobby Womack, Minnie Riperton, and Bill Withers? Yet another sterling example of Tarantino's genius for rescuing obscure gems to enhance his cinematic moods.
90 To Kill a Mockingbird
(1962) Elmer Bernstein agonized over how to score the Gregory Peck classic about a kind Southern lawyer who represents an accused rapistuntil he came up with the inspiration "to deal in the magic of a child's world." Voilà: the unsurpassable template for just about every wistful and gently melodic Spielberg movie score ever.
91 Hedwig and the Angry Inch
(2001) John Cameron Mitchell and Stephen Trask channeled the spirits of the New York Dolls, Iggy Pop, Lou Reed, and David Bowie and came up with the first rock opera in history about a star-crossed transsexual rock star/hooker. Despite touches of Broadway schmaltz, this kicks like a mule. Glam! Jams! Thank you, er, ma'ams.
92 The Piano
(1993) Michael Nyman's hypnotic, undulating score is a lot more than background music; it's a key voice in the film. Since Holly Hunter's character is mute, it fell upon Nyman, his piano, and the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra to illuminate her yearnings and defiance. How crucial a role was that? Just try to imagine the movie without it.
93 The Virgin Suicides
(2000) Okay, so we couldn't decide between the score (featuring Air's sublime re-creation of '70s art rock) and the collection of Me Decade hits ("Hello It's Me," "Magic Man," "The Air That I Breathe"). In the best spirit of that decade, we're ambivalent, and we love it.
94 Planet of the Apes
(1968) Jerry Goldsmith's avant-garde, impressionistic soundscapes were influenced by Stravinsky and Bartòk, yet wholly original, earning him the awe of fellow composers. Goldsmith still gets praise for his use of electronic effectsonly there weren't any: The odd sounds were achieved using everything from scraped gongs to mixing bowls.
95 Good Will Hunting
(1997) One of the few '90s soundtracks that managed to combine artistic merit and commercial success. With nearly half the tracks contributed by bashful balladeer Elliott Smith (including his Oscar-nominated hit, "Miss Misery"), it's proof that soundtracks can still move both viewers and unitswithout the help of Celine Dion.
96 Above the Rim
(1994) This B-ball film is a dim memory, but its soundtrack, with supervising producer Dr. Dre pumping up the volume and the bass lines, is a swaggering set of West Coast G-funk. Snoop swoops, SWV pave the way for Destiny's Childand besides, at least one album on this list had to have a song with "hoochies" in the title.