There are a few songs to keep in mind for this year, although this is a very bizarre category, along with Doc Feature and Foreign Film that is almost impossible to guess correctly. Their picks are usually kind of wacky – like snubbing Bruce Springsteen for The Wrestler song….
This list was sent to me by a publicist but I think it’s a pretty good compilation. A couple of things to note – the Gwyneth Paltrow song is here but it isn’t Country Strong (above). There are two songs performed by Paltrow, and Tim McGraw. I’d also like to give a shout out to the Made in Dagenham song which was written by Billy Bragg and sung by Sandy Shaw.
I’d also like to give some major props to the Trent Reznor/Atticus Ross score for The Social Network. It serves every purpose a film score is supposed to, in that it forwards the story so much that it’s almost a character in its own right. Many people assume the Academy voters are too stodgy to go for this one but here’s to hoping they can change their minds about it.
Here is a great sample of how it is used:
The score for 127 Hours by AR Rahman is also quite remarkable.¬†¬† There are two ways score is approached these days – one is going by the reputation of the composer (I call this the Kris Tapley method, wherein he makes his predictions for the tech categories based on how well known or admired the designer is – usually works, eg Sandy Powell, etc.) and the other way is the Harvey Weinstein method of sending out the score as a hit record on its own. Both work quite well.
For song, it used to be that any celebrity name attached would get nominated – and eventually win. But at some point the voters got a little weird about it and decided that the song had to be integral to the plot and worked into the film, rather than merely tacked onto the end; we know this is silly and random on their part, as they still choose plenty of tacked-on songs.
At any rate, here is a rough list….
How To Train Your Dragon / ‚ÄúSticks & Stones‚Äù ‚Äì Performed by J√≥nsi
J√≥nsi Iceland‚Äôs biggest pop star and lead singer of the international chart topping group Sigur R√≥s performs the end title song ‚ÄúSticks & Stones‚Äù from the DreamWorks 3D Animation blockbuster, How to Train Your Dragon, one of the years best reviewed films. The song is also featured on the film‚Äôs soundtrack.
Why Did I Get Married Too? / ‚ÄúNothing‚Äù ‚Äì Performed by Janet Jackson
Janet Jackson does not disappoint on the lead track ‚ÄúNothing‚Äù from hit-maker Tyler Perry‚Äôs latest relationship drama in which Jackson also stars. The airy ballad is vintage Janet Jackson with emotional lyrics delivered in a soft, but telling way. This multiple award winner co-wrote the song with Grammy winner Jermaine Dupri, Johnta Austin, and Bryan-Michael Cox.
Burlesque / ‚ÄúBound to You‚Äù ‚Äì Performed by Christina Aguilera
Referred to as the “voice of her generation,” Christina Aguilera makes her theatrical film and musical debut as the lead character in Burlesque. Her electrifying vocals on the films track ‚ÄúBound To You‚Äù will remind you why this starlet is a 5-time Grammy winner!
127 Hours / ‚ÄúIf I Rise‚Äù ‚Äì Performed by Dido
Grammy nominated English singer/songwriter Dido, who shot to success after her debut album sold 21 million copies worldwide, displays her unique vocal abilities on ‚ÄúIf I Rise‚Äù. Dido collaborated with 2-time Oscar winner A.R. Rahman on the song, which is featured in the climax of this compelling film.
Country Strong / ‚ÄúComing Home‚Äù, ‚ÄúMe and Tennessee‚Äù ‚Äì Performed by Gwyneth Paltrow
This compelling film about a troubled country superstar attempting a comeback features two major songs; Gwyneth Paltrow performs ‚ÄúComing Home,‚Äù a powerful ballad written by Bob DiPiero, Tom Douglas, Hillary Lindsey and Troy Verges. Paltrow also joins with superstar Tim McGraw for a duet on the original song ‚ÄúMe and Tennessee,‚Äù composed by A. Martin. This show stopping number is one of the film‚Äôs dramatic and musical highpoint s.
Waiting For Superman / ‚ÄúShine‚Äù ‚Äì Performed by John Legend
John Legend, the recipient of six Grammy Awards wrote and performs the powerful anthem “Shine” for the critically acclaimed documentary Waiting For Superman. This moving song is sure to be a classic from this landmark film about America‚Äôs education system.
Burlesque / ‚ÄúYou Haven‚Äôt Seen The Last Of Me‚Äù ‚Äì Performed by Cher
Music has very few living legends, but Cher is one of them. She commands the screen in her first starring role in a decade, performing ‚ÄúYou Haven‚Äôt Seen The Last Of Me‚Äù written by the incomparable hit maker and six time Oscar nominee Diane Warren (acclaimed writer of Cher‚Äôs past megahit ‚ÄúIf You Could Turn Back Time‚Äù). This ballad is a true show stopper in this film.
FOR BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
Inception / Hans Zimmer
The brilliant Oscar winner Hans Zimmer teams with Christopher Nolan for the 3rd time, creating one of the most praised and innovative scores of the year. Once again pushing the musical envelope, Hans creates a musical world that perfectly compliments Nolan‚Äôs vision.
The Social Network / Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
Versatile producer and composer Atticus Ross continues his alliance with Nine Inch Nails lead singer Trent Reznor, who is regarded as one of the most influential, unique and talented musicians of our time. Reznor makes his feature film debut with the critically acclaimed score for The Social Network. Hailed as another ‚Äúcharacter in the film,‚Äù the score this story of innovation, determination and success.
How To Train Your Dragon / John Powell
Having penned the score for one of the biggest movies of the year, John Powell has made a name for himself by creating memorable original music that has unique melodies and textures. This family-friendly, animated action film is enhanced greatly by the epic Golden Age score. John Powell‚Äôs past credits include Shrek, I am Sam, Happy Feet and the Bourne films.
127 Hours / A.R. Rahman
Superstar musician A.R. Rahman, who won the Best Score Oscar for Slumdog Millionaire, once again teams up with Danny Boyle for this real life drama starring James Franco. The score is largely guitar driven, and Rahman is pitch perfect for the film’s most dramatic moments, eloquently reflecting the overall mood of the film.
The Tempest / Elliot Goldenthal
Oscar winning composer Elliott Goldenthal (Frida) has created a brilliant, eclectic and inventive score for his latest collaboration with longtime partner Julie Taymor. For this very cool version of Shakespeare‚Äôs final play, Goldenthal has used electronics, songs, and orchestra to bring this tale to life. Also nominated for his scores for Neil Jordan‚Äôs Interview with the Vampire and Michael Collins, Goldenthal‚Äôs song for Frida ‚ÄúBurn It Blue‚Äù also received an Oscar nom, and the score won the award in 2003. Well known for his classical work, Goldenthal is that unique composer who moves easily between film, theater, opera, and ballet. He was named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 2006 for his opera Grendel.
True Grit / Carter Burwell
The brilliant Carter Burwell, who has worked 15 Coen Brothers films, once again brings his unique and inventive style to this imaginative remake of the 1969 classic. Amazingly, Burwell has never been nominated for an Oscar, but has won countless awards for O Brother, Where Art Thou? and Fargo.
The Fighter / Michael Brook
Golden Globe and Grammy nominated composer Michael Brook (Into the Wild, An Inconvenient Truth) is known for his varied body of work, including his guitar solos for major motion picture soundtracks such as Black Hawk Down and Traffic. His score for David O. Russell‚Äôs The Fighter crafts together a composition that heightens the intensity of the film, which features magnificent performances by Christian Bale and Mark Wahlberg.
Next Three Days / Danny Elfman
Oscar Nominee and former Rock and Roll superstar Danny Elfman has created an exciting score for Paul Haggis‚Äô action thriller Next Three Days, starring Russell Crowe, Liam Neeson, and Elizabeth Banks. A bit of a departure from his work with Tim Burton on Alice in Wonderland, also one of the year‚Äôs best scores, Next Three Days showcases Elfman‚Äôs talent in this suspenseful drama.
The Town / Harry Gregson Williams & David Buckley
Golden Globe and Grammy nominee Harry Gregson Williams, who previously teamed up with Ben Affleck on Gone Baby Gone, collaborates with composer David Buckley on the pulsating score for Affleck‚Äôs latest film, the critically acclaimed The Town. With this film, the score provides an ambiance perfectly suited for this gritty, high intensity drama.
Never Let Me Go / Rachel Portman
Inspired by the highly acclaimed novel, Never Let Me Go highlights‚Äô Rachel Portman‚Äôs ability to convey emotion through music. Love and betrayal are depicted in the film and the score pulls you into these sentiments vividly. Portman is the first female composer to win an Oscar.
Get Low / Jan A.P. Kaczmarek
With a tremendous international reputation that continues to grow, composer and Academy Award winner Jan A.P. Kaczmarek captures the quirky and sentimental feel of Get Low in his moody, blue-grass infused score. The cast of legendary actors in the film also makes the piece that much more enjoyable.
Okay, so we know that the Disney peeps are going to be in there because they always are. So, to dig into Best Song further, I went over to InContention to see what Tapley was thinking about and of course, this is what he has:
‚ÄúToy Story 3‚Äù
‚ÄúWaiting for Superman‚Äù
Three from Disney/Pixar. So, you know, sorry Billy Bragg, this is the Oscars we’re talking about. At any rate, Janet Jackson is SO IN. And she is the only one who can give John Legend a run for his money for the win. I’m not going to argue with the Tangled/Tangled/Toy Story 3 situation, though. How could I? I know how it all works.
But if I had to predict today Best Song — I don’t even know what I’d say, except maybe: For Colored Girls
Toy Story 3
Waiting for Superman
Burlesque (with Cher – it’s CHER!)
I will lose, though, because I’m terrible with predictions. Billy Bragg is probably my “for your consideration” pick.
Kris has predicted the following for Best Score:
‚ÄúHow to Train Your Dragon‚Äù
‚ÄúThe King’s Speech‚Äù
‚ÄúNever Let Me Go‚Äù
‚ÄúThe Tempest‚Äù He’s changing this to “127 Hours”
My money for score, right now, would be: Inception
The Social Network
The King’s Speech
**Starting next week, In Contention will be doing a weekly series that features two or three contenders each time.