Here is my opinion on some of the best uses of songs in a movie scene; film scores are excluded. These are in no particular order because I don’t particularly like ranking things. I’m not a sap so don’t worry, there’s no ‘My Heart Will Go On’ on this list
The Departed: I’m Shipping Up To Boston by The Dropkick Murpheys
It might just be my roots, but the movie and the use of the song are perfection. Just a heads up, there are some f-bombs dropped in this scene.
Warrior: About Today by The National
Spoiler alert! This is the ending of the movie so if you plan on watching it (and I highly suggest you do) it may not be wise to watch this clip. About Today is a beautiful song on its own and this scene would not be half as emotional without it. The intro and outro of the song was edited by Mark Isham for the movie. I will admit I cried the first time I watched it on the big screen. Be reminded these two characters are brothers!
The Graduate: The Sound of Silence and Mrs. Robinson by Simon & Garfunkel
I couldn’t comprise this list without including The Graduate and Simon & Garfunkel. Whether or not a song is effective in a film is pure opinion; however it is a fact that The Graduate changed how film utilizes soundtracks. The Sound of Silence and Mrs. Robinson, in my opinion, are the two most strongest songs in the film. I spent awhile debating which one was more effective, then I gave up and decided “What the hey, let’s put them both in.”
Remember The Titans: Peace Train by Cat Stevens
It only last about a minute, but the use of this song creates a huge emotional resonance that leaves me with goosebumps.
The Breakfast Club – Don’t You (Forget About Me) by Simple Minds
I don’t think I need to explain this one. I’ll leave you with this.