See that look in her eyes? That's the look of someone who knows they have an Academy Award locked up.
Our movie blogger has been generous enough to share his Oscarama duties with me this year. The first category he let me borrow is "Best Original Song." As a musician, this category is close to my heart. What makes it even closer to my heart is the fact that two of my biggest Oscar pet peeves stem from this category.
Pet peeve #1: Brand new songs inserted into movies based on Broadway musicals.
So, you wanna base a movie on a Broadway musical. You love the songs, you love the score, but you're a little bit sad. Why are you sad? Because none of the fantastic songs in the musical will be eligible for an Oscar. As opposed to just dealing with not being nominated for an Oscar, you insert a brand new song in the the musical. The only one that actually won using this tactic was "You Must Love Me" from Evita. However, many other musicals have gotten nominated this way, including "I Move On" from Chicago and three separate songs from Dreamgirls. I wouldn't have a problem with the songs being added to the movies if they did anything at all to advance the plot, but it almost always comes off awkward and just shoved in.
Pet peeve #2: Songs that are used in the closing credits, but nowhere else in the movie.
Again, this seems like another shameless ploy for an Oscar nomination. See? In my opinion, the whole point of the Best Original Song Oscar is to reward the song that added to the story or feel of the movie. I understand how tacking on song onto the credits leaves the viewer with the feel of the movie and that, hopefully, they'll walk out humming it. But it doesn't really improve the movie in any way. One of the best examples of a 100% deserved Best Original Song Oscar is "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp" from Hustle & Flow. The scene in the film where they created the song did more than just move the plot along; it added depth to almost every character in the scene. I want my winners to be like that.
Now that we've got my pet peeves about this category out of the way, let's get down to business. This year we have four nominees, two from animated films, one from a very original independent film and one from a biopic of Nelson Mandela. There were five nominees in this category, but the Academy rescinded one of the nominees "Alone Yet Not Alone" from the faith-based film of the same name, because the producers of the film emailed 239 members of the Academy during the nomination process. This is an Academy no-no, so their nomination was tossed away.
Most predictions say the song with the least chance is "Happy" from Despicable Me 2. Now, I may be a little bit biased, but as a stand-alone song, this one's my favorite of the bunch. My bias is less related to the songs use in the movie and more related to Pharrell's 24-hour music video of the song. The song did do an excellent job of capturing the totally, um, happy feeling of being in love, though, so it served Despicable Me quite well in that regard.
"The Moon Song" from Her did the best job of moving along the film's story and giving the characters in the film additional depth. The spareness of the guitar and simple melody perfectly captures the feeling of the entire film. Despite not loving Her, I am super-happy to see Karen O get a nomination. She was totally ripped off for "All is Love" from Where the Wild Things Are.
"Ordinary Love" from Mandela: A Long Walk to Freedom took the win for this category at the Golden Globes earlier this year. It made me mad then and it will make me even more mad if it wins on Sunday. U2 did not write the song for the movie, but as a tribute to Nelson Mandela and released it a week before Mandela passed. The makers of the film slapped the song over the credits and got themselves an Academy Award nomination. Not only does it hit one of my pet peeves, but honestly? The song is kind of boring.
The clear front runner in this category is "Let it Go" from Frozen. You guys, this song is catchy as hell. It skips all of my pet peeves and happens to be one of the highlights of the entire film. It's got a girl-power feel to it that hasn't been present since the time of the Spice Girls. Add all this to the fact Disney has a history of owning this category, I'm fairly certain Frozen's got this one locked up.
Listen to the nominees:
"Happy", Despicable Me 2
Music and Lyric by Pharrell Williams
"Let it Go", Frozen
Music and Lyric by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez
"The Moon Song", Her
Music by Karen O; Lyric by Karen O and Spike Jonze
"Ordinary Love", Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
Music by Paul Hewson, Dave Evans, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen; Lyric by Paul Hewson
"Let it Go" from Frozen, duh. Depsite U2's surprise win at the Golden Globes for "Ordinary Love", I think Disney's got this one in the bag. History has proven that the Golden Globes and the and the Oscars don't usually agree on Best Original Song. And come on, the music from Frozen is so well-liked, they released a sing-a-long version! There's really no arguing with that.