In honor of the six-days-and-counting release of “Burlesque,” which features a likely contender for best original song, “You Haven’t Seen the Last of Me,” performed by Cher and written by Dianne Warren (who has lost all six of her previous Oscar nominations, dating back to “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now,” from 1987’s “Mannequin), it seemed only appropriate to dedicate this week’s column to the best original song category.
This year’s race seems likely to be a characteristically boring one, with Warren’s Cher-sung track facing its greatest competition from Alan Menken and Glenn Slater’s songs from “Tangled” (also out next week), Dido’s “If I Rise” from “127 Hours,” Randy Newman’s “We Belong Together” from “Toy Story 3,” John Legend’s “Shine” from “Waiting For ‘Superman,'” and whatever songs Gwenyth Paltrow ends up churning out for “Country Strong.” All probably reasonable entries, but nothing new for this category, which has been one of the Academy’s most historically helpless ones.
Though recently there’s been surprisingly inspired decisions like The Swell Season’s “Falling Slowly,” from “Once,” Eminem’s “Lose Yourself,” from “8 Mile,” Three 6 Mafia’s “It’s Hard Out There For a Pimp,” from “Hustle & Flow” (though many might argue – including this writer – that Dolly Parton’s “Travellin’ Thru” might have been even more inspired), and even last year’s unsurprising but definitely worthy, “The Weary Kind,” from “Crazy Heart” – for every good decision there’s a multitude of bad ones, often due to confusing and irregular Academy rules. So it seemed more interesting to take on what went wrong with the past 10 years of “best original song” nominees than to forecast the tedious waters to come. In list form, here’s 10 of the most glaring omissions in the category from the past decade, emphasized by the additional inclusion of a song that did make it in instead.
And the winners weren’t:
1. What didn’t get nominated: Intensely romantic “Come What May”, the Nicole Kidman-Ewan McGregor duet from “Moulin Rouge!” that was disqualified because it had originally been written for “Romeo+Juliet,” but was never used (2001).
What did: Sorry Diane Warren, but of those noted six nominations, the least respectable was that of “There You’ll Be”, the love theme from “Pearl Harbour,” also known as the poor man’s “I Don’t Want To Miss a Thing.”
2. What didn’t get nominated: Bruce Springsteen’s haunting, perfectly fitting “The Wrestler”, from “The Wrestler” (2008).
What did: It didn’t seem like such a travesty at the time, but Jai Ho, from “Slumdog Millionaire” has not aged well, particularly thanks to the Pussycat Dolls infused update.
3. What didn’t get nominated: Karen O and the Kids’ infectious and affecting “All Is Love” from “Where The Wild Things Are,” which perfectly captured the mood of that film. (2009).
What did: Randy Newman’s 19th Academy Award nomination, “Almost There”, one of two paint-by-numbers songs nominated from “The Princess and the Frog.”
4. What didn’t get nominated: Badly Drawn Boy’s melancholic and catchy “Silent Sigh” from the very underrated “About a Boy” (2002).
What did: U2’s boring, spiritless “The Hands That Built America” from “Gangs of New York.”
5. What didn’t get nominated: Gustavo Santaolalla, Bernie Taupin and Emmylou Harris’s gorgeous “A Love That Never Grows Old” from “Brokeback Mountain,” which was someone randomly disqualified for not being “featured prominently” in the film despite countless other nominees being featured even less so (2005).
What did: Kathleen York and Michael Becker’s “In The Deep” from “Crash,” which is trite as the film it represents (and itself was almost disqualified for being on a Kathleen York album previous to “Crash”‘s release).
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6. What didn’t get nominated: Criminally un-Oscared Marc Shaiman for his hilariously satirical “America, Fuck Yeah” from Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s “Team America: World Police” (2004).
What did: Criminally Oscar-nominated Counting Crow frontman Adam Duritz for his “Shrek 2” theme song “Accidentally In Love”, which sounds like 10,000 other songs.
7. What didn’t get nominated: Eddie Vedder’s moody, evocative “Guaranteed”, from “Into The Wild.” Vedder’s music was basically a character in itself (2007).
What did: Nothing against some of those lovely ditties from “Enchanted,” but three of them did not need to be nominated, especially this mid-1990s slow dance sounding “So Close”.
8. What didn’t get nominated: The incomparable Jon Brion (who helped create the scores for “Eternal Sunshine” and “Magnolia”) and his beautiful “Knock Yourself Out”, from “I Heart Huckabees” (2004).
What did: “Learning To Be Lonely”, a downright horrible original add-on to the soundtrack of Joel Schumacher’s “Phantom of the Opera.”
9. What didn’t get nominated: The ridiculously charming theme “The School of Rock” from “The School of Rock,” which could have been an amazing opportunity to get Jack Black and the kids from the film up on stage (2003).
What did: 2003 actually offered a fantastic lineup of songs, so let’s take this moment to appreciate one of them:
10. What didn’t get nominated: There was really no way the Academy would ever go for something from “Shortbus,” but Justin Bond and the Hungry Marching Band’s “In The End” – which ends off the film magically – is a definite perfect world inclusion (2006).
What did: It seems unfair to keep picking on Randy Newman (this time aided by James Taylor), but “Our Town” from “Cars”??
Previous editions of this column:
For Your Consideration: A Mid-November Stab at Oscar Predictions
For Your Consideration: Gauging a Crowded and Female-Friendly Spirit Award Field
For Your Consideration: Could a Documentary Be Nominated For Best Picture?
For Your Consideration: Assessing Those Gotham Award Nominations
For Your Consideration: 10 Underdog Actors
For Your Consideration: 10 Underdog Actresses
For Your Consideration: Save For “Love” Snub, Foreign Language Submissions Uncontroversial
For Your Consideration: Post-Toronto Oscar Predictions
For Your Consideration: Updating Oscar Contenders In The Eye of The Storm
For Your Consideration: 10 Things The Fall Fests Should Say About Awards Season
For Your Consideration: Assessing Oscar In The Calm Before The Storm