Critical Confabulations

a theatre, film & pop culture review

Oscars 2013: Best Original Song

Note: This is my personal ranking, listed in order from best to worst, with #1 being my favorite. Prediction for the actual winner is in orange.




1. “Skyfall” (SKYFALL)

2. “Before My Time” (CHASING ICE)

3 “Pi’s Lullaby” (LIFE OF PI)

4. “Everybody Needs a Best Friend” (TED)

5. “Suddenly” (LES MISÉRABLES)

: “Who Did That To You?” (DJANGO UNCHAINED)

Remember last year when there were only two nominees for this category and they were both from musical animated/muppet films? Gotta love those arbitrary nomination and song-scoring rules.

Don’t worry, though, the Academy regained some of its sense (but only some), and threw out those whacky rules and went back to the tried-and-true method of simply nominating five songs. I’m not going to lie to you and say that all five of these songs are worthy (you know better), because ultimately it doesn’t matter (you also know what’s gonna win).

Songs from “kids” movies (ie. animated films) do remarkably well here, so it’s kind of surprising that we didn’t get anything from the lackluster Brave. But we do have a teddy bear that curses and dry humps, so I suppose that’s close enough. Unfortunately, Walter Murphy and Seth MacFarlane’s Everybody Needs a Friend is like a big-band cross between the Randy Newman diddy “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” (Toy Story) and the snarky  “I Can’t Do It Alone” (Chicago). There’s no real reason for it to be here.

Songs from musicals are also huge crowd pleasers, but the piano-and-strings ballad Suddenly, penned by the musical’s composers Boubil and Schönberg specifically for the theatrical release (i.e.. the credits), is schmaltzy and nondescript (something about hearts… beating…). Next.

Because Before My Time plays in the credits of the (very good) documentary no one’s ever heard of about climate change, it’s also out. But J. Ralph’s melancholy tuner  nearly tops my list because its sad strings and melancholy piano perfectly capture the beautiful longing of James Balog’s mission to capture the a multi-year record of the world’s changing glaciers. (Though I could’ve done with out Scar-Jo’s “singing.”)

With dreamy, meditative orchestral textures, Pi’s Lullaby is a whimsically perfect introductory song for Life of Pi, but we all know this is Adele’s award to lose. Skyfall certainly sounds like a James Bond theme song: a lushly arranged piano ballad with pulsing beats beneath the chorus, and the lyrics have just enough of a sinister quality. The British chanteuse has already nabbed the Golden Globe, and there’s no doubt she’ll also be taking home the big prize. 


3 comments on “Oscars 2013: Best Original Song

  1. A-Ron
    January 29, 2013

    Seriously, I think it’s a travesty that “Who Did That to You?” isn’t nominated. Such nonsense. It’s a fantastic song that is used to excellent effect in the film — unlike Ted‘s which plays over the opening credits and Chasing Ice‘s which plays over the closing credits…

    Although I think we have seen a preference over the past decade or so for songs that play during the film and are a part of a film’s dramaturgy.


  2. Tundra
    January 30, 2013

    Though Life of Pi song is different with its soothing appeal, it is mired into a controversy in India regarding the originality of the lyrics. The Ted one is also good. But, Adele seems to be far ahead of others in the race. It has to be her Oscar.


    • Julie
      February 2, 2013

      I did hear about the controversy, but I thought it had been resolved in Jayashri’s favor?


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