oscars 2012: best original song

BEST ORIGINAL SONG: With the frenzy over the new Bond tune, it’s only fitting that my next category set be the music ones. And though I think Adele will have a distinct shot of making it into the category, particularly thanks to the rules overhaul, the series doesn’t exactly have a good track record with their more than 20 original songs through the years. Still, the notion that it shot to No. 1 upon release seems to usher in a hopefully new era for Original Song, a category that I’ve loved through the years despite its many many flaws. Having some legit hits on their hands could make things interesting in a potentially five-wide field of contenders.  But on to the conversation! On paper, the likeliest of nominees is the Hugh Jackman-sung “Suddenly” from Les Miserables, which to me is the film’s best bet at a nomination, whether the movie tanks or not. And with a rich tradition of successes in this category, Disney/Pixar’s efforts could land multiple slots, namely “Into the Open Air” and “Learn Me Right,” both from Brave, with the former the likelier choice. The rules get a bit dodgy for some contenders, though, as Taylor Swift’s number from The Hunger Games, I’m assuming, is out of the running, as it’s the second credit song.  Though I’m not super clear on the rule revisions.  But Arcade Fire’s “Abraham’s Daughter” should have no trouble making it into the conversation for the blockbuster book adaptation.

The hit early release The Lorax has a few options to contend with, most notably “Let it Grow,” as the big group number lends itself best to Oscar’s style. And though it arrived with hardly a whimper, it’s worth noting that the Whitney Houston swan song “Celebrate” from Sparkle is a ballot option. It’ll take branch members remembering the movie at all to get it to the top five, though. Norah Jones is featured on the Ted soundtrack, and this may be the simplest way to honor Oscar’s host this year for his surprise hit. “Everybody Needs a Best Friend” is an accessible big-band-style ditty, though the Academy has skipped over previous opportunities to feature Jones’s soundtrack vocals. And though Lawless will likely miss any kind of attention during awards season this year, there’s a chance the legendary Willie Nelson could net it a slot in Original Song with “Midnight Run.” Finally, there are some options yet to come – Disney’s Wreck-it-Ralph has a handful of original works, with Owl City’s “When Can I See You Again?” seeming the most plausible choice.  But to the rundown; here’s where things stand, in my opinion:

The Locks: Though the category is so unpredictable, it’s tough to legitimately call anything a true lock, my guess is “Suddenly” (Les Miserables) and “Skyfall” seem the strongest – and with the revamp, Oscar just wouldn’t be able to resist having Jackman and Adele perform at the ceremony.
Strong Options: “Into the Open Air” (Brave) and “Midnight Run” (Lawless)
My Current No. 5: I think the current lovefest toward Arcade Fire may nab The Hunger Games one of its nominations here for “Abraham’s Daughter.”
Rounding Out the 10: “Let it Grow” (The Lorax), “Learn Me Right” (Brave), “When Can I See You Again?” (Wreck-It Ralph), “Celebrate” (Sparkle) and “Everybody Needs a Best Friend” (Ted)
Just Outside the Ranks: “Touch the Sky” (Brave), “Open Up” (This Must Be the Place), “From Here to the Moon and Back” (Joyful Noise), Karen O’s “Strange Love” (Frankenweenie), “Still Allive” (Paul Williams Still Alive), and Beck’s “Looking for a Sign” (Jeff Who Lives at Home)
And the Rest (In No Particular Order): “Arietty’s Song” (The Secret World of Arrietty), “Deep in the Meadow” (The Hunger Games), “Rise” (Chimpanzee), Soundgarden’s “Live to Rise” (The Avengers), “This is the Place” and “Nobody Needs a Thneed” (The Lorax), Florence + The Machine’s “Breath of Life” (Snow White and the Huntsman), “Big Machine” (Safety Not Guaranteed), “We Are” (Ice Age: Continental Drift), “I’m a Man” and “Love Will” (Sparkle), “The Sword is Yours” (This Must Be the Place), “Wreck-It, Wreck-It Ralph” (Wreck-It Ralph), Dolly Parton and Queen Latifah’s “Not Enough” (Joyful Noise), “Wide Awake” (Katy Perry: Part of Me) and “Love Always Comes as a Surprise” (Madagascar 3)

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