Baz Luhrmann's garish, flamboyant adaptation of Romeo + Juliet was hyper-kinetic and colorful, boasting a heavy inspiration from the visual style of MTV, so it's only appropriate that the soundtrack was tailored for the alternative nation that MTV fostered. Combining modern rock acts like Garbage, Radiohead, the Cardigans, and the Butthole Surfers with contemporary soul like Des'ree and adult alternative like Gavin Friday, the album is slick, polished, catchy – and surprisingly strong. Though the soul and pop is good, the alternative rock acts on the soundtrack fare the best, with Garbage and Radiohead both contributing excellent B-sides ("Number One Crush" and "Talk Show Host," respectively), with the Cardigans' sleek, sexy lounge-disco number "Lovefool" stealing the show.
A 1996 Academy Award nominee for Best Dramatic Score, Braveheart is one of composer James (Titanic) Horner's most accomplished works. Utilizing the full range of the London Symphony Orchestra, the Choristers of Westminster Abbey, and a small ensemble of traditional folk instrumentalists, Horner largely eschews the bombast typical of the genre and cuts a more emotionally complex–and satisfying–musical course through this 14th-century tale of betrayal and rebellion. This album presents ample evidence of why Horner is currently at the peak of his profession.
Carter Burwell's darkly mysterious orchestrations play a significant stylistic role in both Barton Fink and Fargo, two of the best films from acclaimed independent filmmakers Joel and Ethan Coen, particularly in light of the oft-violent content of the Coens' stories: violence can of course be laughable when the characters are too goofy to be believed, and tragic when the characters are too believable to be goofy, but the Coen brothers' creations are somewhere in between. They strike a precarious balance between a broadly comic Beckett-esque absurdism and a more straightforward, three-dimensional naturalism. Consequently, Burwell's grave, sweeping scores are a crucial reassurance that the Coens are not taking their characters' personal tragedies less seriously than are their audiences.