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

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

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.

I Can't Go For That, Hall & Oates in Aloha. I wrote about this radiant moment in Cameron Crowe's otherwise unfortunately unsuccessful dramedy, or thereabouts, back in June. It's one of those movie moments that could be ruled out of order because it essentially stands outside the movie itself, where the invisible line between Character & Actor falls away, and you see Movie Stars on screen amusing themselves as much as us. And even if that's a mortal sin for some, there isn't much more I could possibly want. (Watch the scene here.)

You Could've Been A Lady, Hot Chocolate in “Mistress America.” The rare closing credit song so impeccably chosen and placed that it bumps a 10/10 movie up to 11.

Waterloo, ABBA in “The Martian.” In “Carol”, which I loved, its characters wind up in Waterloo (Iowa, that is) when they potentially reach their Waterloo. But in “The Martian ”, when its principal character potentially reaches his Waterloo, director Ridley Scott plays “Waterloo.” It's on the nose, yes, but so is disco, and disco is as vital to “The Martian ” as science.

American Girl, Tom Petty in “Ricki and the Flash.” “Someone once described Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers as the ‘greatest bar band ever’” wrote Michael Nadeau for Boston.com in 2014. Who is this “someone”? I have no idea since Nadeau declines to cite a specific name. But maybe that is merely because the idea of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers as the “greatest bar band ever” has simply become accepted apocrypha, which is why when Jonathan Demme has but a single song to immediately introduce the titular bar band of his latest semi-musical film he chooses “American Girl”.....as sung by Meryl Streep. {Devil Horns emoji.}

Racing in the Street, Bruce Springsteen in “Joy.” At a delicate moment in David O. Russell's film he turns to what is, on certain days, my favorite Springsteen song of all time. Except it's not the whole song; it's just the piano riff. And whether accidentally or deliberately, Russell underlines the argument I, an E Street Disciple have long made - that is, the single most essential instrument to the Bruce Springsteen sound is the piano. This is a biased inclusion, no doubt, one less connected to the film's overall intention than, say, The Rolling Stones' “Stray Cat Blues”, but it's my list, not yours.

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