This week, we lost a towering creative giant in David Bowie. His art transcended the stuffy confines of medium, era, and genre, and left lasting impressions in every direction. He created music so richly layered and textured, it’s difficult to experience with just one sense at a time; hearing a certain song likely conjures a mental image of the visual aesthetic he was cultivating during the era it was released. That constant marriage of sight and sound is perhaps why Bowie’s music translates so well to cinema.
Bowie’s film-acting is far superior to most musicians who’ve tried their hand at it, but his most lasting contribution to that world is probably the sonic backdrop he provided for over 400 movies. Because there were so many discrete stylistic phases to Bowie’s career, he has songs that slip seamlessly into just about any genre–from high school comedy to street-level drug drama to action-packed space opera. It turns out the ability to marry Bowie songs with moving images is just as versatile as the man himself.
Have a look through the slides above for 11 times filmmakers got it especially right. Also, obviously there are a lot more options than what we’ve included, so let us know what your favorite Bowie music cues in movies are in the comments.