' ' Cinema Romantico: Countdown to the Oscars: Best Song Re-imagined

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Countdown to the Oscars: Best Song Re-imagined

Today Cinema Romantico re-imagines the slowly-becoming-irrelevant Oscar category of Best Song as if it was one combined category and the songs did not have to be "original" or fit some other antiquated piece of Academy criteria and I and I alone was judge and jury in regards to the five nominees.

5. Take Me Away by Lucero in "Mud". "Mud" is pure storytelling but it also provides an unforgettably straight-up sense of place, a dying way of life alongside a river, somehow feeling both modern and bygone. A particular sequence, scored to to Lucero's one-minute-and-twenty-one second snippet of a tune, finds our protagonist, teenage Ellis, and his father skimming along the pavement of their southern small town in dad's truck, delivering fish out of coolers. A great many movies can last ninety to a hundred twenty minutes, if not more, and not so ably capture the graveled melody of life's struggle.

4. Let It Go in "Frozen." The unfurling of this likely actual Best Song Oscar winner charts Elsa's (Idina Menzel) transformation from kindly Princess to exiled Ice Queen. Maybe it's just because I like Ice Queens, but I saw it as a Disney version of Katy Perry going from Christian songstress to California Gurl. And yes, I mean that whole-heartedly as a compliment.

3. Hang Me Oh Hang Me by Oscar Isaac in "Inside Llewyn Davis." When I watched a Robert Mitchum film last year with my Dad and my Stepmom, I referenced what I like to call Tragic Inevitability. To which my Stepmom, understandably, replied, "Isn't that just Fatalism?" To which I replied, "Well yes, but doesn't 'Tragic Inevitability' sound more poetic than 'Fatalism?'" An example: the melancholy, self-absorbed, folk-singing title character (Oscar Isaac) of "Inside Llewyn Davis" introduces himself to us by singing the words "Hang me oh hang me, I'll be dead and gone." I mean......that's Tragic Inevitability.

2. Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites by Skrillex in “Spring Breakers”. In pontificating about Skrillex’s “Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites” (the whole album), Robert Christgau, the self-appointed Dean Of Rock Critics, compared its “synthesizers” to “doom dybbuks”, which is just about the most wonderful thing ever. Dybbuks, in Jewish mythology, are believed to be the dislocated souls of the dead, and watching all the spring breakers do as spring breakers will in the rapturously smutty opening credits sequence of Harmony Korine’s opus seems very akin to a Miami beach full of “doom dybbuks.” “But when he swears rock n' roll will take you to the mountain,” Christgau concludes of Skrillex almost in spite of himself, “he's being sincere.” Nearly a year later it still stuns me to think this scene takes me to the mountain, but it does, and “Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites” goes a long way in making it happen.

1. If I Needed You in "Broken Circle Breakdown." I can explain it to you, how Didier and Elise meet and fall in love and sing harmonies in a bluegrass band and have a daughter and lose that daughter to disease and wonder if their daughter's spirit lives on in lieu of their daughter's tangible self and fall apart and break up and reconcile, kinda, but are uncertain if reconciliation is even possible in the face of  such pain and then come to the above moment on the stage and......but no. I can't explain it to you. This film is so much about the physical, and you have to feel this whole film to feel this scene and feel each of those close-ups of hands and how they want to reach out and touch one another but metaphorically can't even if figuratively they can. (Watch the scene here. But seriously, just watch the whole movie.)


Derek Armstrong said...

"Rapturously smutty." My favorite phrasing in some time.

Nick Prigge said...

Ha! Thank you. I try.

In many ways I feel as if that "Spring Breakers" opening has given me more to think about than anything in any other movie in 2013. Why something so lewd can feel so spiritual (?)......sometimes I think I should just let the mystery be.

Derek Armstrong said...

That's true of the whole movie for me. I am certain that I've spent more time thinking about Spring Breakers than any other film that came out in 2013. I do blame that in part on owning the soundtrack, which I probably listened to 10 times, each time giving me occasion to revisit the movie in my mind.