In the weeks leading up to the Academy Awards, movie fans typically expect the acting categories to generate the most controversy. There are times, though, when the nominees for Best Original Song stir the pot more than the other categories. (Anyone remember Robin Williams performing the original song “Blame Canada” from “South Park: Bigger, Longer, Uncut” at the Oscars?)
This year’s crop of original song nominees goes for the heart instead of the funny. James Keach’s wonderful “Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me” looks at the beloved singer/songwriter’s last road tour. Suffering from Alzheimer’s, Campbell handles a grueling road schedule that some younger performers might not want to tackle. He may forget a name, but his talent remains blessedly untouched.
In the film, Campbell also sings “I’m Not Gonna Miss You,” a nominee for Best Original Song. Co-written with Julian Raymond, the music and lyrics speak to Campbell’s illness and acceptance of what is coming down the road. It’s a graceful farewell from the Rhinestone Cowboy to his fans, children, and his beloved wife.
“Begin Again,” a critically-acclaimed drama, serves up another nominee: “Lost Stars” by Gregg Alexander and Danielle Brisebois (She played Archie Bunker’s cute little niece on TV years ago). The movie is a funny, touching story featuring Mark Ruffalo as a disgraced music producer who stumbles into a second chance.
Played over the closing credits in “Selma,” “Glory” speaks to Martin Luther King’s influence on the Civil Rights Movement, both then and now. (One line says “That’s why we walk through Ferguson with our hands up.”) With music and lyrics by John Stephens and Lonnie Lynn, “Glory” has a good chance at taking the gold this year.
While a fun romp, “The Lego Movie” is, at its core, the story of a boy desperately trying to bond with his dad. In his mind, there’s a vibrant world inside the Lego cityscapes his dad has constructed in the basement. Shawn Patterson’s “Everything is Awesome” theme song is so cheerful and infectious that it had to get an Oscar nomination.
“Beyond the Lights,” a 2014 love story, focuses on the relationship between a young singer and the police officer assigned to be her bodyguard. The film also yielded “Grateful,” another Best Original Song nominee. With music and lyrics by Diane Warren, the song’s chances may suffer due to lack of exposure for the film.
ABC will broadcast the 87th Academy Awards on Sunday, February 22 at 7 p.m. ET, 6 p.m. Central