If you've ever read Inside Oscar, you'll know that the Best Original Song category at the Oscars has been infuriating people since time immemorial. They regularly snub instant classics and even when a great movie song is nominated it will usually lose. The music branch gets far less flak from the media than other controversial Academy subcategories like the Documentary group or the Foreign Language Film nominating committee but that's only because everyone knows that songwriting has very little to do with the actual art of cinema ... unless you're writing an original musical. Brett McKenzie's work on The Muppets aside, that really only happens once a decade or so.
Four other quirks to know.
- The music branch HATES Madonna as a songwriter (the list of classic songs snubbed is alarming and her W.E. song "Masterpiece" has already been jettisoned) but likes her as a singer (both times she has sung other people's material -- Evita and Dick Tracy -- wins followed).
- They actually have an average point system to determine nominations rather than a hierarchal ballot like most categories so you can theoretically torpedo someone you don't like by giving them a bad score.
- Three, a maximum of two songs from any movie can be nominated so if you are the only person who wrote an original musical that year, you can't hog the category even though you did more work than anyone else.
- They can't even be trusted to let the original performers perform them on the ceremony (Hi Beyoncé!) so don't get too excited about seeing Robbie Williams, Elton John, Zooey Deschanel, Lady Gaga, Jordin Sparks, Melissa Manchester, or any of the other celebs who sang this year's eligible tunes.
I'm rooting for Captain America's "Star Spangled Man" because it's a) awesome and b) actually used for narrative purpose rather than end credit pleasantries. Both are so rare in this category! So watch it get shut out.
39 FINALISTS FOR BEST ORIGINAL SONG
• African Cats "The World I Knew" (Jordin Sparks sings it)
• Albert Nobbs "Lay Your Head Down" (Sinead & Glenn Close)
• Captain America: The First Avenger "Star Spangled Man"
• Cars 2 "Collision of Worlds"
• Dam999 "Dakkanaga Dugu Dugu"
• Dam999 "Dam999 Theme Song"
• Dam999 "Mujhe Chod Ke"
• Dirty Girl "Rainbird" (Melissa Manchester and Oscar winner Mary Steenburgen!)
• The First Grader "Keep on Walking"
• Footloose "Where the River Goes"
• Gnomeo & Juliet "Hello Hello" (Elton John & Lady Gaga sing it)
• Gnomeo & Juliet "Love Builds a Garden" (Elton John)
• Happythankyoumoreplease "Never Be Daunted"
• Hell and Back Again "Hell and Back"
• The Help "The Living Proof"
• Hugo "Coeur Volant"
• I Don't Know How She Does It "It's How We Play"
• In the Land of Blood and Honey "When the Heart Dies"
• Jose & Pilar "Ja Nao Estar"
• Machine Gun Preacher "The Keeper"
• The Music Never Stopped "Summer Song"
• Olive "Imaginary Friends"
• One Day "Sparkling Day" (Elvis Costello)
• Our Idiot Brother "Taking You With Me" (Mindy Smith and Daniel Tashian)
• POM Wonderful Presents the Greatest Movie Ever Sold "The Greatest Song I Ever Heard" (OK GO)
DO YOU HAVE ANY FAVORITES?