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Entries in Original Song (114)

Thursday
May192016

Who or what is the MVP of "Sing Street"?

Sing Street, the latest film from our most musician obsessed auteur John Carney, has been expanding with more theaters each week at a fairly strong clip. Six weeks in, there's no expansion (a very crowded weekend) but its fanbase keeps growing exponentially as more people "discover" it. Like Carney's previous music-based indies, the Oscar winning, transcendently low-fi Once and the more mainstream but surprisingly rewatchable Begin Again, whatever you might want to say about Sing Street an adjective that could safely and accurately describe all three films is "endearing"...

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Tuesday
Mar292016

A "Zootopia" Top Ten

We've never even discussed Zootopia! What's wrong with us? (Don't answer) What follows is an off the cuff top ten. But consider this intro a number eleven plus: the joy of the movie is that it's not frontloaded at all continuing to offer delights all the way up to its concert finale in its fleet 108 minutes. So don't let this list feel complete: share your favorite things about it in the comments.

(This is assuming you loved it because everyone seems to)

TOP 10 DELIGHTFUL THINGS ABOUT "ZOOTOPIA"

10 Size Matters (in Comedy)
Lt. Judy Hopps, our heroine, would argue that it doesn't but it does. The animators and writers and filmmakers spin multiple jokes from the disparity in size of so many of the characters. And they've really worked the scale out. Few images in the movie radiated more comic bliss then watching a parade of conformist lemmings lining up for hundreds of miniature sweets made from one elephant sized dessert scoop.

09 Bunny Jokes
That throwaway line "your 275 brothers and sisters" and Judy's sly math joke later on "we're good at multiplying!"

8 more after the jump...

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Monday
Feb292016

...About Those Oscar Musical Numbers.

Dancin' Dan here to talk about what used to be my favorite part of the Oscar ceremony.

Remember those giganticoften-confounding production numbers set to the nominees for Best Original Song? They were crazy, ambitious, and compulsively watchable, bring levity to the alternately serious and teary acceptance speeches that usually dominate Oscar ceremonies. Even the times they just had a person stand there and sing, those moments seemed chosen because the songs were sung by a superstar who could easily fill the whole room with just their presence and incredible voice*. Unfortunately, those kinds of performances seem to have fallen out of vogue. Barring the odd actressexual dance party and Lego-fest, the days of crazy musical extravaganzas on the Oscars are long-gone. And I would argue the show as a whole is a less joyous, celebratory affair without them. For proof, look at this year's performances.

Set aside for now the fact that two of the best nominees didn't even get a performance slot, and let's take this year's performances on their merits. They were, for the most part, DULL.  Herewith, a few thoughts on each...

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Monday
Feb292016

Finding Time for Two Disrespected Song Nominees

There's already been quite a stir over the two nominated Best Original Song nominees that producers decided not to include in the telecast: Racing Extinction's "Manta Ray" by J. Ralph and Anohni (our only transgender nominee) and Youth's "Simple Song #3" by David Lang (also Nathaniel's 2015 favorite). The reason for not including these songs with their more famous competitors in the telecast was "time constraints."

The timing of the Oscar ceremony is undoubtably tricky, so let's do a little math.

  • The three performed songs each were shortened from their full length, a great way to still get them on an already long broadcast. "The Writing's On the Wall" lost the most time at almost two minutes, but "Earned It" was the shortest performance at roughly 2 minutes and 30 seconds. Let's assume the two unfamous songs should be given that amount of time as a minimum.
  • "Til It Happens to You" had the longest intro at 2 minutes and the longest applause with 30 seconds. Since a popular political figure wouldn't likely introduce the songs, factor in about a generous minute and a half for intro and applause.
  • At four minutes per song, we now must find 8 minutes to trim from the broadcast to fit in these performances.

Now I'm no expert on the minutiae of planning a massive production like the Oscar telecast, b most of these suggestions require minimal logistical shifts. Some, like less animation production, could even save a headache or two. Having funny bits throughout the show is crucial to a memorable telecast, which is why bits like the spoofs of The Danish Girl and The Martian will always be essential. But when focusing on honoring the nominees, you'd have to pick and choose your battles on what extra pieces stay and go.

So we'll do just that after the jump...

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Friday
Feb192016

Breaking News: The Academy Makes Yet Another Diversity Blunder / Plays Favorites in "Original Song"

News just broke that performances of Original Song nominees Youth's "Simple Song No. 3" (read our interview) and Facing Extinction's "Manta Ray" have been nixed from the Oscar broadcast, the producers citing "time constraints" for the always lengthy show. Performances of the other three nominated songs by Lady Gaga, The Weeknd, and Sam Smith are still in play.

TFE must express rage at yet another stupid Academy blunder. This sends an incredibly bad faith message to nominees -- if you're not famous pop stars, your nominations are "lesser than". And in a year where the Academy has been the subject of immense criticism for their lack of diversity they've essentially excluded the sole trans nominee (Antony Hegarty of Antony & the Johnsons fame who co-wrote and sings "Manta Ray") from valuable air time.

As a longtime fan of Antony and as a member of the LGBT community this enrages me. Diversity is about more than just skin color.  Here's J Ralph & Antony's nominated song. And do yourself a favor and get acquainted with Antony Hegarty's music because it's brilliant.

Antony Hegarty

Friday
Feb192016

Interview: David Lang on "Simple Song No. 3" and Storytelling through Music

Lady Gaga may have understandably hogged the media's coverage of this year's Best Original Song category but she's not the only Grammy winning composer in the mix. Diane Warren (the main writer of "Til It Happens to You") and The Weeknd "Earned It" are also Grammy winners. So is David Lang, an eclectic composer best known for his classical work. He's nominated for "Simple Song No. 3" from Youth, the lynchpin song of the whole movie. Like Jane Fonda's movie star in the same film, his song is hyped consistently by the story and characters before we fatefully cross paths with it.

Lang hasn't worked in movies too often, though he did contribute to the incredibly memorable music in Requiem for a Dream (2000). After his elevating and Oscar nominated work on Youth, we're hoping he spends more time composing for our screens.

When David Lang sat down to talk to The Film Experience I warned him that I know next to nothing about music. The good humored composer joked, absurdly, that he barely knows anything either. Lang is one of very few Oscar nominees in the Academy's history to have won a Pulitzer Prize before their Oscar honors. (Here's our talk edited slightly for length and clarity.)

NATHANIEL:  Famously you wrote "Simple Song No. 3" before Sorrentino's screenplay was complete. How quickly did you write it? Did Sorrentino ask for several iterations?

DAVID LANG: I work pretty fast. The way this worked was I made a version of the song and I would get a singer to sing it and send the demo to Paolo. I basically sent him three versions of the song. I probably spent much more time having these philosophical conversations with him and reading the script and having dark neurotic nightmares about it than actually doing the work!

more...

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Wednesday
Feb102016

Trivia Break: Best Original Song

Glenn here bringing you some more trivia from this year’s best original song category. Obviously, I could be mistaken about some of these, but, well, in which case la la la, not listening, move along. 

Trivia #1 – 2016 marks the first time in Oscar history that two documentaries have ever been nominated in a category outside of the non-fiction categories. While documentaries have been nominated in the original song category in the past – Mondo Cane in ’62 being the first, I believe – and Hoop Dreams scored a best editing nomination in 1995, this year both The Hunting Ground’s “Til It Happens to You” and Racing Extinction’s “Manta Ray” make for a first that two have been cited.

Trivia #2 – This year’s nomination for “Manta Ray” is the third nomination for an enviro-doc in this category in the last decade. While Melissa Etheridge’s “I Need to Wake Up” from An Inconvenient Truth was a guaranteed nominee and winner (albeit, not a particularly good one), both Racing Extinction this year and Chasing Ice in 2013 were completely unexpected (and both written by J. Ralph). Are the music branch the most environmentally conscious voters in the Academy? Were they secretly hoping The Cove had a Bono theme song they could have nominated? Because they love him, too.

Trivia #3 - Lady Gaga is the fourth Oscar nominee(/winner) to perform the national anthem at the Super Bowl following Diana Ross in 1982, Cher in 1999 and Jennifer Hudson in 2009. Gaga is, however, the first to do so in the same year as her nomination. Good work on whoever it was in her management that got "Academy Award nominee" listed before "Six-time Grammy winner" in her SB50 performance earlier this week.

Trivia #4 - Diane Warren and J. Ralph are the only nominees not on their first nomination. Warren now has eight nominations to Ralph's two. Ralph is a documentary good luck charm lately, however, with an additional five best documentary nominees to his credit (including Man on Wire and The Cove, which won). 

Trivia #5 - David Lang, nominated for "Simple Song #3", could become only the third Oscar winning composer in history to have won a Pulitzer Prize prior to his Oscar. He received the Pulitzer in 2008 for his composition "The Little Match Girl Passion". The first was Richard Rodgers* and the second was Stephen Sondheim**. Several other Oscar winning composers including Marvin Hamlisch (best original song, score, and adapted song score for The Way We Were and The Sting respectively), John Corigliano (best original score, The Red Violin) and Bob Dylan (best original song, The Wonder Boys) did, however, win a Pulitzer Prize after their Oscar.

*Rodgers won a special Pulitzer for "Oklahoma!", but won his official Pulitzer Drama Prize in 1950 after he won an Oscar for State Fair's "It Might As Well Be Spring"
**Sondheim's Pulitzer for Sunday in the Park with George is curiously in "Drama" rather than "Music", He later won the Oscar for Dick Tracy's "Sooner or Later"

Any more notes of trivia we should know about?