Greatest Musical Moments in Film

The relationship between music and movies is a closely entwined one. Far from being considered background noise, music is an integral part of a movie; think of it as an invaluable supporting actor. Imagine watching a movie without any music or sound effects – boring isn’t it? When used skilfully music has a powerful impact onscreen, whether it is used to set a mood, build atmosphere, describe the relationships between characters, or advance the plot. Here’s a look at some movies that marry music and celluloid to great effect.

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Before Sunrise

In arguably one of the best scenes in Richard Linklater’s serendipitous romance, Jesse and Celine listen to “Come Here” by Kath Bloom in a record shop in Vienna. They smile and shift nervously, avoiding each other’s eyes, the yearning looks on their faces speaking volumes about the attraction between them. The song captures beautifully their desire to kiss each other and it’s a wonderful scene that’s made all the more perfect by the absence of dialogue. 

Say Anything...

After being dumped by valedictorian Diane Court, wannabe kickboxer Lloyd Dobler shows up outside her bedroom window holding a boombox above his head and blasting Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes” in a heartfelt attempt to win her back. The scene became an instant classic, establishing John Cusack as an unlikely heartthrob and spawning countless parodies such as this SNL tribute.

Pulp Fiction

It was hard picking just one scene from Quentin Tarantino’s stylish 1994 noir film but it had to be done. Hitman Vincent Vega is tasked to take his boss’s wife Mia Wallace out to dinner at retro diner Jack Rabbit Slim’s, where they show off some seriously snazzy moves at a twist contest. The chemistry between Mia and Vincent is undeniable as they shake their hips and exchange smouldering stares to Chuck Berry’s “C’est La Vie (You Never Can Tell).” No prizes for guessing who walks away with the trophy.


There are several memorable moments in this sweet, understated coming-of-age story but my vote goes to this one. College graduate James Brennan is in love with his amusement park co-worker Em Lewin. He struggles with telling her how he feels as they drive home after drinks, shooting meaningful glances at her while the tender Lou Reed ballad “Pale Blue Eyes” plays on the car stereo, the lyrics mirroring his anguish. It’s a poignant scene and relatable to anyone who’s ever experienced the awkwardness and confusion of falling in love for the first time.

Before Sunset

Set 9 years after their chance encounter, this follow up reunites the two lovers and finds them older and more world-weary. They end up in Celine’s Paris apartment where she does an impersonation of Nina Simone and slow dances to her song “Just in Time” as Jesse sits spellbound on the couch. “Baby, you are gonna miss that plane” she drawls, the camera panning in on Jesse as he fingers his wedding ring nervously before fading to black. Simply magical, and one of the best endings ever.

What do you think? What are some of your favourite musical moments in film?