My friend Scott writes the blog for Oscar predictions and film, And The Winner Is… Scott’s spot on when it comes to guessing who will walk away with what statue, so I was surprised to see that he didn’t have a listing for Best Original Song among the categories he lists on the site. So, I’ve devised my own prediction for this field (sadly, no emo acts), which is listed below:
1. “O… Saya” – A.R. Rahman & M.I.A. (Slumdog Millionaire)
2. “The Wrestler” – Bruce Springsteen (The Wrestler)
3. “Down To Earth” – Peter Gabriel (Wall-E)
4. “Once In A Lifetime” – Beyonce et al (Cadillac Records)
5. “Gran Torino” – Clint Eastwood, Jamie Cullum, et al (Gran Torino)
I realize that “O… Saya” wasn’t nominated for a Golden Globe, for which I cannot explain. A.R. Rahman won the Globe for Best Original Score, for which “O… Saya” is a fundamental (and therefore, original) component. But, “O… Saya” stands apart from the rest of the Slumdog score, a blistering song in its own right and an excellent three-minute representation of the film it’s a part of. As many of the celebrations and criticisms of Slumdog revolve around the (in some arguments “morality”) aspects of the Western fairy tale, coupled with technology and influence and the collision with a modernizing India, “O… Saya” meshes this into one beautiful framework. Take one part Indian-influenced electronica with Bollywood-esq singing and one part M.I.A. (the proverbial representation for third world politics and Westernized taste-making) tossing out skittish rap-prose and you just can’t stop listening.
Consider the following…
1) Slumdog Millionaire‘s popularity among all types of moviegoers and critics (the steal as this year’s Little Miss Sunshine or Juno)
2) The real-life socio-political implications that the impact of this film has had, one not seen since City of God (giving it a little more heft than the atypical indie darling)
3) The popularity of A.R. Rahman in the Bollywood industry, coupled with the Oscars’ notable lack of Bollywood contention (this could be because of rules for films being eligible, but Bollywood arguably has as much impact on the global scale as Hollywood, and some would argue more)
4) M.I.A.’s seat as the biggest underground-to-mainstream sensation and success since… well, yes, probably since Nirvana bewildered everyone with “Smells Like Teen Spirit” (there’s another argument in and of itself, but no one expected Nirvana to become such a mainstream success, and damn near every critic and fan of M.I.A. before “Paper Planes” went to the top of Billboard might have thought the same thing)
5) The Academy’s recent taste for awarding the Best Original Song Oscar to daring, deserving, and unexpected artists (be it Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” in 2002, Three 6 Mafia’s “It’s Hard Out Here For A Pimp” in 2005, or Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová’s “Falling Slowly” from just last year)
… and you’ve got yourself a good shot that this song (which, in my humble opinion, was easily the best original song from any film this year) will take the Oscar… unless, for some odd reason, it doesn’t get a nod. And that would be odd.
And, in the spirit of these awards, I’d like to throw what little weight this fair blog has behind Mickey Rourke for Best Actor in The Wrestler and Anne Hathaway for Best Actress in Rachel Getting Married. And, in the spirit of this blog, I’ll connect it all to emo. If the term “emo” is some vague notion of displaying one’s emotions, both these roles and films managed to do so in a deft manner that was eloquent, honest, and unrelenting. These two films and roles remain seared into my retinas; both were filmed in a cinéma vérité, where the cameras seemed to follow the real actions of these characters in a stunning manner, the flow was natural, and even the most morbid detail both important and heartbreaking. Whereas Sean Penn’s title character Harvey Milk felt like an over-the-top caricature (and that’s putting it lightly, unlike some other criticisms) and wasn’t nearly as stunning as his previous work (there’s one scene in Mystic River that gets me every time), watching Rourke play Super NES with a local tween or Hathaway gaze out at the wedding party from the sidelines felt eerily like peering into someone’s life. And isn’t that what art is supposed to do?
A.R. Rahman & M.I.A. – “O… Saya” (video):