The Academy’s Twitter feed announced a little over a week ago that the Best Original Song performances are back for this year’s Oscar telecast after they had been taken out for last year’s Oscars. Those performances make this category seem important and prevents it from being glossed over like it often is in other Awards shows. It also allows for some music stars that otherwise wouldn’t be included to liven up the telecast. One of the greatest Oscar moments of the past decades was Glen Hansard and Marketa Iglova’s moving performance of “Falling Slowly” immediately preceding their Oscar win. That same year featured some fantastic choreographed numbers to songs from Disney’s Enchanted. The Academy usually nominates good songs and it is a pleasure to hear them.
The voting process for Best Original Song consists of a screening of the song’s use in the various films. Instead of popping in an album and giving Academy members an aural only sampling, they get to watch the entire scene in which the song is utilized. This encourages voters not to reward the songs themselves, but the cinematic usages of the various nominees. This means it is more likely for a song that appears in a scene essential to the narrative to get votes than a song that appears over the credits.
This year the Academy’s music branch chose four numbers to nominate for Best Original Song. Pixar favorite Randy Newman, who finally won his first Oscar for the song “If I Didn’t Have You” from Monsters, Inc. is nominated once again for the 20th time, making him one of the most nominated individuals in Oscar history. Despite the fact that he won just nine years ago, he still feels markedly overdue for some recognition. Perhaps this could be because he was snubbed for his excellent work on The Princess and the Frog and Cars or perhaps it is because this is his third nomination for a Toy Story film and his third time creating an iconic piece of music about the friendship between a boy and his toys. The song technically appears over the credits, but it’s during a sort of epilogue to the movie and it brightens up the mood, encouraging the audience to dry their tears from the previous scene. Newman should get the award also as a sort of consolation prize as it is one of the few opportunities the Academy has to reward the “best reviewed film of the year.”
Disney and Alan Menken also have an excellent record with this category with the latter having already won 8 Oscars, 4 of which were for Original Song. The “overdue” argument could be made for Menken as well since he hasn’t won since 1996, but an 8-time Oscar winner is not likely to receive pity votes. Tangled was ignored in the Best Animated Feature category and it was not nearly as well received as Toy Story 3. Menken could sneak up and snag his 9th Oscar, but that seems unlikely in this competitive category.
A.R. Rahman has already won the Critics’ Choice Award for Best Original Song, but he has already won recently for the better received Slumdog Millionaire. There is also nothing inspirational or catchy about his 127 Hours theme, which means it lacks the quality of “Jai Ho,” which brought him Oscar glory originally. Gwyneth Paltrow’s nomination for Country Strong is the least likely contender as it is the only nomination from its film. It will be very interesting to see Paltrow’s performance at the Oscar ceremony, but for now that song will be her only opportunity to get up on stage.
Predicted to Win: “We Belong Together” – Toy Story 3
Potential Spoiler: “I See the Light” – Tangled
Deserves to Win: “We Belong Together” – Toy Story 3
Should Have Been Nominated: “Furry Walls” – Get Him to the Greek
Listen to all of the Oscar nominated songs below and vote for your favorite at the bottom of the page.
127 Hours – “If I Rise”
Music By: A.R. Rachman; Lyrics By: Dido and Rollo Armstrong
Country Strong – “Coming Home”
Music and Lyrics By: Tom Douglas, Troy Verges and Hillary Lindsey
Tangled – “I See the Light”
Music By: Alan Menken; Lyrics By: Glenn Slater
Toy Story 3 – “We Belong Together”
Music and Lyrics By: Randy Newman