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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Five Best: Oscar Winners for Original Song

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As the Oscars approach this Sunday, the feeling gets more and more dull. It's set to be a pretty predictable show - originally, it was hoped that this year's box office (and critical) success The Muppets would be able to add a few sprinkles of fun to an otherwise lifeless charade. But, when the nominees were announced, only one of the film's songs was nominated for an Oscar and it was the slow one. In fact, there are only two songs nominated for Best Original Song this year. In honor of a category that is being weird this year, let's take a look back at all the past winners of this statuette and which ones were the best ever. Here they are in chronological order.

NOTE: I did my best to get the film clips, but they are limited.

"Over the Rainbow" from The Wizard of Oz (1939)

Quite possibly the most beautiful song ever written period, Judy Garland's performance as Dorothy Gale was set in motion by this song, perfectly expressing a young girl's angst at the impossibility of ever seeing the world and finding a better life for her and her family. Also nominated for best picture, The Wizard of Oz still stands the test of time as one of the greatest musicals ever put on screen, giving birth to plenty of sequels, re-imaginations, and variations.But, nothing will ever top this song and Garland's rendition.
"When You Wish Upon a Star" from Pinocchio (1940)

Coming in a close second (in my book) for the most beautiful movie song ever, this song - sung by Jiminy Cricket in the film - lends itself to the same themes that the above entry does. Pinocchio longs to be a real boy and, if only to keep hope alive in yourself, turns to the sky for answers in his darkest times. It's still one of Disney;s best animated films and, without a doubt, the best song the company ever put on celluloid.
"White Christmas" from Holiday Inn (1942)

I'll be honest - I've never seen Holiday Inn. But the song that came from it is the best selling single of all time and there isn't a single Christmas song that holds a candle to it (maybe Nat King Cole's rendition of The Christmas Song, but it's still 2nd). Bing Crosby's version will always be the greatest - it even gave birth to a semi-sequel to the film, titled White Christmas. It captures the season and exactly what a song should be.
"Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head" from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)

The only one on this list that isn't technically sung by a character in the film, B.J. Thomas performed this simple song, written by Hal David and Burt Bacharach for the film. The writing duo also won Best Original Score for the film, but the song itself stands out. Played alongside a playful bike ride between Paul Newman and Katharine Ross, it's one of the subtly beautiful moments in a film with plenty of adventure, mystery, and comedy to make it stand the test of time.
"Falling Slowly" from Once (2007)

The beauty of this song and its surprise win at the Oscar is that the entire film circles around it. The lead characters have no names as they work together to write and record a number of songs, this one being the jewel. The quiet tune is rife with emotion and passion, sung as a duet between stars Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová. After years of cheesy 80's love songs and a ton of Disney tunes in the 90's, this moving anthem was just the type of film to capture the Academy's hearts, even in such a small, little-seen film.

So, there you have it - the best music movies has to offer. Enjoy the Oscars on Sunday, even if they will be boring.

Honorable Mentions

"I'm Easy" from Nashville (1979)
"Beauty and the Beast" from Beauty and the Beast (1991)
"A Whole New World" from Aladdin (1992)
"Street of Philadelphia" from Philadelphia (1993)
"Lose Yourself" from 8 Mile (2002)

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