Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Check Out This Year's Best Original Song Shortlist

Scene from Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping
One of the best parts of awards season is seeing what makes the short lists for each category. There's probably none as usually more interesting than the Best Original Song field. It is where even the mediocre films get to shine - that is if they have a good song or two. This year looks to be no exception. With a list that includes 91 titles, it's time to start thinking about how the category is going to look and which five will make it to the finals. Sure, Moana and La La Land seem like obvious bets, but what other music is worth remembering? Check out the list for yourself and feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments.

-“Just Like Fire” (Alice through the Looking Glass)
-“Rise” (American Wrestler: The Wizard)
-“Friends” (The Angry Birds Movie)
-“Flicker” (Audrie & Daisy)
-“Seconds” (Autumn Lights)
-“A Minute To Breathe” (Before the Flood)
-“Glory (Let There Be Peace)” (Believe)
-“Mother’s Theme” (Believe)
-“Somewhere” (Believe)
-“The Only Way Out” (Ben-Hur)
-“Still Falling For You” (Bridget Jones’s Baby)
-“F That” (The Bronze)
-“Torch Pt. 2” (Citizen Soldier)
-“Drift And Fall Again” (Criminal)
-“Take Me Down” (Deepwater Horizon)
-“Land Of All” (Desierto)
-“Sad But True (Dreamland Theme)” (Dreamland)
-“Angel By The Wings” (The Eagle Huntress)
--“Blind Pig” (Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them)
-“One Frame At A Time” (Floyd Norman: An Animated Life)
-“I’m Crying” (Free State of Jones)
-“Gold” (Gold)
-“Champion” (Hands of Stone)
-“Dance Rascal, Dance” (Hello, My Name Is Doris)
-“I See A Victory” (Hidden Figures)
-“Runnin” (Hidden Figures)
-“Sixty Charisma Scented Blackbirds” (How to Let Go of the World and Love All the Things Climate   Can’t Change)
-“My Superstar” (Ice Age: Collision Course)
-“Seeing You Around” (Ithaca)
-“The Empty Chair” (Jim: The James Foley Story)
-“Audition (The Fools Who Dream)” (La La Land)
-“City Of Stars” (La La Land)
-“Start A Fire” (La La Land)
-“Cateura Vamos A Soñar (We Will Dream)” (Landfill Harmonic)
-“Better Love” (The Legend of Tarzan)
-“Never Give Up” (Lion)
-“Equation” (The Little Prince)
-“Turnaround” (The Little Prince)
-“Moonshine” (Live By Night)
-“Loving” (Loving)
-“Hurry Home” (Max Rose)
-“Gone 2015” (Miles Ahead)
-“Wish That You Were Here” (Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children)
--“I’m Still Here” (Miss Sharon Jones!)
-“How Far I’ll Go” (Moana)
-“We Know The Way” (Moana)
-“Even More Mine” (My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2)
-“Waving Goodbye” (The Neon Demon)
-“I’m Back” (Never Surrender)
-“Find My Victory” (Olympic Pride, American Prejudice)
-“On Ghost Ridge” (100 Years: One Woman’s Fight for Justice)
-“Ordinary World” (Ordinary World)
-“Devil’s Girl” (Outlaws and Angels)
-“Levitate” (Passengers)
-“Ginga” (Pelé: Birth of a Legend)
-“Nobody Knows” (Pete’s Dragon)
-“Something Wild” (Pete’s Dragon)
-“Dancing With Your Shadow” (Po)
-“I’m So Humble” (Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping)
-“Stay Here” (Presenting Princess Shaw)
-“Celebrate Life” (Queen Mimi)
-“Back To Life” (Queen of Katwe)
-“Let The Games Begin” (Race)
-“Think About It” (The Red Pill)
-“The Rules Don’t Apply” (Rules Don’t Apply)
-“The Great Beyond” (Sausage Party)
-“Faith” (Sing)
-“Set It All Free” (Sing)
-“Drive It Like You Stole It” (Sing Street)
-“Go Now” (Sing Street)
-“The Veil” (Snowden)
-“Hymn” (Snowtime!)
-“Kiss Me Goodnight” (Southwest of Salem: The Story of the San Antonio Four)
-“Holdin’ Out” (Storks)
-“Heathens” (Suicide Squad)
--“Flying Home” (Sully)
“Montage” (Swiss Army Man)
-“Petit Metier” (They Will Have to Kill Us First – Malian Music in Exile)
-“Letter To The Free” (13th)
-“Down With Mary” (Too Late)
-“Can’t Stop The Feeling” (Trolls)
-“Get Back Up Again” (Trolls)
-“Smile” (The Uncondemned)
-“We Will Rise” (Veeram-Macbeth)
-“LA Venus” (We Are X)
-“New Dogs, Old Tricks” (What Happened Last Night)
-“Runnin’ Runnin'” (What Happened Last Night)
-“What’s Happening Today” (What Happened Last Night)
-“Who I Am” (What Happened Last Night)
-“The Ballad Of Wiener-Dog” (Wiener-Dog)
-“Try Everything” (Zootopia)

Last year I made the mistake of not being aware of too many of the short list songs. It has made me a bit self-conscious when discussing this field, which I think has the chance to go in very interesting directions. I'll admit that I haven't been a fan of this category being dominated by message songs from documentaries. To me, there's a craft of music in fiction narratives that is supposed to be captivating and embody what cinema can do as an art form. While I'm not saying that nonfiction narratives can't have good music, I don't think that there are as many worthy of notice as the past few years have suggested.

On the flip side, I am happy to admit that I am rather familiar with a significant portion of this list, even in passing. I have been trying to figure out my own personal Top 5 for a prediction, but it becomes difficult when I consider what is bias and what is actually a logical answer. Still, the following is my personal prediction as of this moment for the Best Original Song category for 2016. It is the order that would honestly make this the best year for the category in quite some years, because honestly the past few have been pretty bad.

-"How Far I'll Go" (Moana)
-"City of Stars" (La La Land)
-"Audition (The Fools Who Dream)" (La La Land)
-"Drive It Like You Stole It" (Sing Street)
-"I Got This Feeling" (Trolls)

In my personal guessing, I do think that there will be one film with a double nomination. I am just unsure if it's going to be Moana or La La Land. It depends on which way the upcoming conversation goes. If La La Land continues to dominate the respective Best Picture fields, I can see it showing up strong in the song and technical fields. However, Moana does have the highly touted Lin-Manuel Miranda EGOT to look forward to. While I think that "How Far I'll Go" should be the song to nominate (and subsequently win), I am still mixed about "We Know the Way" - which I think isn't nearly as good. These two films are likely going to duke it out for that double nomination, though I don't see both doing so.

The only sure bet that I can think of from a different movie is Sing Street's "Drive It Like You Stole It." Much like John Carney's Once and Begin Again, his high point is in the music department. The general buzz has suggested that this song is the breakout hit from the film's soundtrack, and likely will remain that way. If nothing else, it's a very good 80's pastiche that gets stuck in your head - and that's an acceptable way to exist in this category.

The fifth spot is personally a toss-up for me. If I was to go for the personal perfect selection, I would pick Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping's "I'm So Humble," which is just a cleverly crafted satire. Speaking as The Lonely Island got some recognition with a nomination for The LEGO Movie's "Everything is Awesome," I am not entirely counting it out. However, I feel like this is where the longevity pop hit factor comes in. Which one is the most recognizable? Speaking as Zootopia has gotten plenty of love, I wouldn't be surprised if "Try Everything" made the cut (though I think it's a lesser song). However, I think that people like Justin Timberlake and thus wouldn't be opposed to "Can't Stop This Feeling" being that final spot. Considering that Pharrell Williams got nominated for Despicable Me 2's "Happy" (an incessant pop hit), it only makes sense as probably the song with the most radio play of any song on this short list.

As a whole, I think it's a strong year and I hope that the results are at least interesting. As I have been listening and covering every Best Original Song year, I have to admit that this category used to be far more exciting. Now it's mostly obscure songs from documentaries. I believe that this is a category that should be dominated by music in film that impacts the culture (can't say that for last year's Youth or The Hunting Ground). This year sees plenty of that in ways that I haven't seen in years. I would love to see if Moana or La La Land comes out on top. Otherwise, I look forward to your opinions and the final results in general.

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