12 Years a Slave is the most compelling film about music to be released this year, maybe this century. It's so many other things, too, as others have noted: a corrective to the weird cocktail of piety and cartoonishness that Hollywood usually supplies when depicting slavery; a gorgeous art film and an actor's hellish paradise; a cultural highlight of the Obama administration.

Among many other accomplishments, filmmakers Joel and Ethan Coen helped change the direction of contemporary music with the soundtrack to their 2000 film O Brother, Where Art Thou? Winner of an Album Of The Year Grammy, among other honors, the collection — produced and compiled by T-Bone Burnett — sold about eight million copies and helped launch a resurgence in tradition-minded roots and bluegrass music that continues to this day. It's one of the most successful and influential albums of the decade that spawned it.

Sony Classical

As the summer movie season winds down, “The Wolverine” has been a stand out, praised for its attention to details like character development, plot, and a focus on place and setting, despite its comic book action-movie pedigree. Fittingly, Marco Beltrami’s score for “The Wolverine” also escapes some of the trappings of typical action scores.

Marches Madness: Spielberg's Symphonist

Mar 28, 2013
Decca Records

This year marks a special anniversary for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, as they celebrate their 85th year with their annual awards ceremony on Sunday, February 24.  Oscars will be awarded in 24 categories, and after downplaying the role of music in films last year, producers have promised a renewed interest in music, song, and musicals.  The telecast will include a tribute to musicals of the past decade, featuring Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway, and Russell Crowe. Jennifer Hudson, Adele, Barbara Streisand, and Catherine Zeta-Jones have also been tapped to appear.