Release date: August 10, 2004
Record label: Epic
This isn't to say that Garden State is a bad movie. It's a charming, twee love letter to Bruce Springsteen's New Jersey, not MTV's New Jersey. And if you're familiar at all with its director, actor Zach Braff, then you know to expect before even watching it: self-deprecating jokes and quirky personalities all glimpsed through a rain-covered lens.
Despite its competence as a standalone film, largely thanks to Natalie Portman as the quintessential manic pixie dream girl, its soundtrack takes the experience to another level and captures an essence that then-amateurish Braff couldn't quite perfectly bottle up by himself. Coldplay's "Don't Panic," Cary Brothers' "Blue Eyes," Frou Frou's "Let Go," and basically every great song by the Shins all tell the film's story, about a troubled man (Braff) trying to find himself, better than Braff actually does. You don't have to watch the film to experience and imagine the story being told, and that's a testament to the brilliance of its soundtrack. —TA