This weekend I got a dose of nostalgia when I saw Donnie Darko at the Loft Cinema as part of their Cult Classics series. Watching the film on the big screen was a treat since I hadn’t up until last Friday. I was not only consumed by the images on screen but wrapped up in the soundtrack. Which got me thinking about more of my favorite soundtracks from that time.

Donnie Darko, 2001

Memorable Moment: The song we all remember is the Gary Jules reworking of ‘Mad World’ by Tears for Fears. It later became number 1 on the UK charts in 2003 thanks to the popularity of the movie’s soundtrack. The calm frankness of the song complimented the conclusion of what was a mind-bending ride of a film.

Staying Power: Michael Andrews compiled a series of short songs that weaved together the pace and mood of the film. An added bonus was the 80s pop ballads like Tears for Fears’ ‘Head Over Heels’ and ‘Under the Milky Way’ by the Church to set the scene for the suburban spectacle laid out on screen.

Moulin Rouge!, 2001

Memorable moment: The memorable moment from the soundtrack has to be the supergroup of Christina Aguilera, P!nk, Lil’ Kim, and Mya produced by Missy Elliott. ‘Lady Marmalade’ encapsulates the moment of empowerment for women in pop music at that time. I can remember many a sing-a-long and conversation about what they were actually saying in French in that song. An endlessly enjoyable soundtrack for sure!

Staying Power: The soundtrack of reworked pop and rock hits like ‘Roxanne’ by the Police, ‘Your Song’ by Elton John, and ‘Nature Boy’ by David Bowie complimented Baz Luhrmann’s combination of the drama of the opera and the sparkle and color of Bollywood making the film a love story for the ages.

Marie Antoinette, 2006

Memorable moment: For me, the most epic music moment of the movie was the montage of the Marie Antoinette’s dive into her new life of French pastry, gowns, shoes, and champagne set to ‘I Want Candy’ by Bow Wow Wow.

Staying Power: I see a theme here. I take delight in the soundtracks that use pop and rock songs to weave together a story about a different time. In this case, it was using 80s post-punk (Adam Ant, Siouxsie Sioux, The Cure, Gang of Four) as the soundtrack for a movie about the luxury and opulence of the ruling class in pre- Revolutionary France. But Sophia Coppola said it best herself “wall to wall pop songs.” A must-own soundtrack for sure!

The Life Aquatic, 2004

Memorable moment: More than just one memorable moment it was the small yet frequent moments of instrumental compositions, and classics by Iggy & the Stooges, Joan Baez, and Devo. As a whole, Wes Anderson creates a quirky and cushiony journey into Steve Zissou’s world of ocean exploration.

Staying Power: Anderson took a different approach using our familiarity with David Bowie’s hits by employing Seu Jorge to sing many of the late pop star’s hits. I saw him perform an entire set of the Bowie songs as recently as 2016. It holds up as a soundtrack and a stand-alone album.

Almost Famous, 2000

Memorable moment: Almost Famous took the “road” movie to the next level. It’s a coming of age story about a boy playing reporter. He follows a band and their fans on the road. It showcases a time in rock and roll history when music was life and life was music. The scene with all the band members and their loyal followers singing Elton John’s ‘Tiny Dancer’ on the bus encapsulates Cameron Crowe’s tender autobiographical achievement.

Staying Power: Crowe collected a combination of classic rock deep cuts on the soundtrack including popular favorites from Simon & Garfunkel, Stevie Wonder, to The Who, The Beach Boys, and Rod Stewart.

What are your favorite soundtracks of the early 2000s? We bet your list is different than ours! Tell us in the comments below which movie soundtracks made the biggest impression on you.