Oscar Song Predictions: 'Tangled,' 'Burlesque,' and Randy 'Susan Lucci' Newman
Only five of the 41 Oscar best original song contenders announced Wednesday can be nominees on Jan. 25. Who wins?
It depends on the devoted music branch members who show up to see clips of each, screened in random order, on Jan. 6 (and also on others who asked for DVDs of the clips to screen at home, who mail in their votes). They could decide all 41 suck, so no Oscar will be awarded. More likely, the nominees will be (according to a consensus of me, bloggers Kris Tapley, Steve Pond, and khan2705, whose IMDb post "My Best Original Song Oscar 2011 Predictions" made it to #4 on Google):
"I See the Light" from Tangled, a tune by record-breaking eight-time Oscar winner Alan Menken, who says his score for the film is his poppiest Disney work ever.
"We Belong Together" from Toy Story 3, by Randy Newman, who EW's Leah Greenblatt calls "the Susan Lucci of Oscar song nominations" because his 10 nominations yielded one measly win ("If I Didn't Have You" from Monsters, Inc., clearly not even the best).
"You Haven't Seen the Last of Me" from Burlesque, by six-time nominee Diane Warren, who calls it a bookend tune to that other one she wrote for Cher, "If I Could Turn Back Time." The other two Oscar-eligible songs from Burlesque ("Bound to You" and "Welcome to Burlesque")? You've heard the last of them.
"If I Rise" from 127 Hours, by Dido and dual Slumdog Oscar winner A.R. Rahman.
Tapley and khan2705 also like the odds for Country Strong, though the latter bets on its contender tune "Me and Tennessee," while analytical Tapley argues that though it's a superior song, penned by Coldplay's Chris Martin and sung by Gwyneth Paltrow and Tim McGraw, it's reportedly performed at the closing credits, which helped screw Springsteen out of an Oscar nom for The Wrestler. So Tapley goes with Country Strong's other contender, "Coming Home," performed onscreen.
Pond omits both Country Strong tunes from his "likely to advance" list, opting for "Shine" from Waiting for 'Superman,' by John Legend.
I guess the profusion of contenders and the difficulty of seeing and hearing the tunes out of their full context tends to favor familiar names and the musical genre, causing Newman-and-Menken repetition syndrome. Quick, name five songs or composers from movies this year. You'll probably be pretty close to the list the Academy comes up with, and also the largely overlapping Golden Globe nominees, Burlesque's "Bound to You" and "You Haven't Seen the Last of Me," "I See the Light," and "Coming Home."
The one you might not pick, but both the Globes and the Oscar eligible list did, is Dawn Treader's "There's a Place for Us," which could have more than a prayer because it's cowritten and sung by first-time Globe nom and Oscar contender Carrie Underwood. Newlywed and far cuter than Cher, Newman and Menken put together, she's the antidote to Newman-and-Menken Syndrome.
But "There's a Place for Us" is also a West Side Story lyric that should've won an Oscar for Stephen Sondheim (who won instead for "Sooner or Later (I Always Get My Man)" from Dick Tracy). Considering it's from a drama beloved by Christians, shalt not Carrie be punished for stealing? I asked ChristianityToday.com's movies editor Mark Moring, who has a Dawn Treader site and gets 200,000 page views a month. "It's a new song, not from West Side Story. You're really reaching to say it violates the 8th Commandment."
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Scott Feinberg, the lead awards analyst for The Hollywood Reporter, is one of the entertainment industry's most experienced and trusted experts about the Oscars, Emmys and Tonys. He started on the awards beat in 2001, writing for independent websites including his own ScottFeinberg.com before joining the Los Angeles Times and then THR, for which he writes “The Race” blog, which won the LA Press Club’s National Entertainment Journalism Award for best entertainment blog of 2012-2013. A voting member of both the Broadcast Film Critics' Association and Broadcast Television Journalists Association, he is also writing a book about film history for young people for which he has interviewed more than 500 high-profile Hollywood figures whose careers span the silent era through the present.
Follow Scott on Twitter at twitter.com/scottfeinberg.