2017 Calvin Awards: Best Use of Music

By Kim Hollis

February 20, 2017

They're wearing their boogie shoes!

Another animated film closes out our top five. Kubo and the Two Strings obviously relies heavily on its music as Kubo’s shamisen is integral both to his own storytelling in the village and the advancement of the overarching plot itself. Dario Marianelli’s score is gorgeous, soaring and emotional, presenting a wonderful example of using music to evoke atmosphere and mood.

We go an entire other direction with our number six selection. Popstar: Never Stop Stopping is a silly, hilarious send-up mockumentary of boy bands and the solo artists that emerge from them. Songs like “I’m So Humble,” “Equal Rights,” and “Legalize It” are just a sampling of the tunes that will have you rolling on the floor as you watch this underrated comedy gem. Lonely Island and Andy Samberg sometimes take the joke too far, but honestly, that’s part of what makes it work.

Next up is the sweeping score of Arrival, crafted by Jóhann Jóhannsson. The composer got to work on the music as shooting of the film was under way, using the script and some ideas for the film to get started. He brought in the vocal ensemble Theatre of Voices to help underscore the notion of communication and understanding. We’ll next see Jóhannsson’s work in the upcoming Blade Runner film.


Keanu unflinchingly embraced the greatness of George Michael and gave the singer a swan song worthy of his talent months before his passing. It taught us that “Faith,” “Freedom! ’90,” “Father Figure” and “One More Try” can melt the hearts of even the most hardened criminals – much like a certain adorable titular kitten.

Apparently our group was nostalgic for the 1980s, because yet another film with music from that era appears as our ninth selection. Everybody Wants Some!! is a comedy set around a college baseball team in the ‘80s, and appropriately, the soundtrack includes a wide variety of songs from that time. “My Sharona” (a ubiquitous tune back then), “Heart of Glass” from Blondie, M’s “Pop Muzik,” “Rapper’s Delight” by the Sugar Hill Gang and of course Van Halen’s “Everybody Wants Some!!” all play into the action. If you grew up in the ‘80s, you’ll recognize the feelings these songs bring out. If you didn’t, you’ll get a little bit stronger understanding of the time.

We close it out with a film that takes its musical inspiration from the 1970s. For The Nice Guys, director Shane Black wanted some of the bright, irrepressible music of that era to play as background to his neo-noir tale. Like Everybody Wants Some!!, the soundtrack presents an eclectic representation of the sounds of the time, including R&B from bands like The Temptations, Kool & the Gang and Earth, Wind and Fire, along with rock from KISS and classic AM rock like Rupert Holmes’s “Escape (The Pina Colada Song)”, Andrew Gold’s “Lonely Boy” and America’s “A Horse With No Name.”

Just missing or top ten were Jackie, with haunting music by Mica Levi (Under the Skin) and Hell or High Water, with music by the amazing Nick Cave and Warren Ellis.
Calvins Intro
Best Actor
Best Actress
Best Cast
Best Character
Best Director
Best Overlooked Film
Best Picture
Best Scene
Best Screenplay
Best Supporting Actor
Best Supporting Actress
Best TV Show
Best Use of Music
Breakthrough Performance
Worst Performance
Worst Picture

Top 10
Position Film Total Points
1 La La Land 104
2 Sing Street 60
3 Deadpool 57
4 Moana 54
5 Kubo and the Two Strings 52
6 Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping 43
7 Arrival 38
8 Keanu 27
9 Everybody Wants Some!! 26
10 Nice Guys, The 24

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