2020 Calvin Awards: Best Use of Music

By Kim Hollis

February 12, 2020

Swingin' cat.

This year in voting for Best Use of Music, we selected our favorite movie... and then there was a free-for-all for everything else.

Despite not receiving a single first-place vote, Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood takes the Calvin for Best Use of Music thanks to the magic of the preferential ballot. It appeared on 70 percent of our ballots, almost always in the top five for those voters. Look, we like Quentin Tarantino's approach to using music to create an atmosphere.

Interestingly, Tarantino and his music supervisor Mary Ramos turned down requests by name performers who wanted to provide covers of music from the period. Tarantino wanted a feeling of authenticity, so he and Ramos curated music that was released no later than 1969. The movie kicks off with the Bounty Law theme song before shifting over to the 1969 release Treat Her Right, by Roy Head & the Traits. Tarantino and Ramos scoured vinyl collections to find the perfect tunes, and they succeeded beyond their wildest dreams.

If you ever were looking for subtle genius, listen out for The Royal Guardsmen's "Snoopy vs. the Red Baron" while Leonardo DiCaprio sips margaritas in a pool.


For our runner-up Ad Astra, composer Max Richter says he believed the film had two key stories - the story of a son and his father and the story of an interstellar journey. He tried to find the right tone to pull both of them together, combining classical music with electrical sounds. By the way, the common theme between our top two films is Brad Pitt, though that's probably coincidence. Or is it?

Third place goes to a mainstay of our Calvin Awards, as Thomas Newman is the man behind the original score for 1917. Pulse-racing and visceral, the music behind the film is a key factor in drawing the viewer into the film. Fourth goes to Frozen II, and what can we say? We're suckers for Disney musicals, especially ones with transcendent anthems like "Into the Unknown" and ridiculously cheesy '80s ballads like "Lost in the Woods."

Along with unsettling score from Michael Abels, much of the creepy impact of Us comes from its repeated use of Luniz's "I Got 5 on It." You probably never thought about the party rap song as scary, but Us will change your mind. Sixth place, then, goes to Toy Story 4, which features music composed by Thomas Newman's cousin Randy Newman. I dare you not to be happy when you listen to "I Can't Let You Throw Yourself Away."

We close out our nominee list with The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part, and I bet you've got "Catchy Song" stuck inside your head, don't you? The movie has other great songs, too, but it's so catchy, catchy, it's such a catchy song. Yesterday updates the songs of The Beatles for a world where they never existed, while our old pal Randy Newman finds himself a second spot in the top ten with his music composed for Marriage Story.

2020 Calvin Awards
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 Once Upon a Time...in Hollywood 83
2 Ad Astra 56
3 1917 50
4 Frozen II 49
5 Us 43
6 Toy Story 4 42
7 Rocketman 41
8 Lego Movie 2: The Second Part, The 40
9 Yesterday 38
10 Marriage Story 37



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