WON: "I'm Easy," Nashville
SHOULD'VE WON: "Do You Know Where You're Going To," Mahogany
Now this is one hell of a line-up.
Let's first concede that the only halfway decent film of these five nominees is Nashville, the brilliant Robert Altman ensemble piece that surely deserved more than just a single win on Oscar night. Funny Lady and Mahogany are terrible pictures, though at least have some camp value - the other two, the dreary and manipulative The Other Side of the Mountain and the MASH rip-off Whiffs, have little redeeming value.
All five of these original songs, however, regardless of the quality of the films, are pretty dynamite, though there are two clear second-tier nominees - "Now That We're in Love," a listenable albeit rather generic Steve Lawrence tune that marked Sammy Cahn's final Oscar nomination, and "Richard's Window," a pleasant number for Olivia Newton-John that's a bit on the corny side but sold nicely by the vocalist.
From there, it's an awfully tough call.
Funny Lady, the unnecessary sequel to Funny Girl, is on the level of Mystery Science Theater 3000 parody-worthy in badness, but it was at least a bit notable for its original music, composed by the legendary Fred Ebb and John Kander. "How Lucky Can You Get," while no "People" or "Don't Rain on My Parade," is a marvelous showcase for Barbra Streisand, with some exciting arrangements and instrumentals. It's a tad on the long side but there's enough energy here to sustain the whole thing. In a weaker year, this totally could've come out on top for me.
Keith Carradine's "I'm Easy" is a beautiful piece and particularly effective and moving in the context of the picture. I'll never forget the haunting look on Lily Tomlin (who should've won the Oscar this year)'s face as Carradine sings this. It also works quite well on its own terms, and was indeed a modest Billboard hit at the time, but certainly the visual of that scene gives it a very striking lift.
But, in spite of my great admiration for the Carradine tune, I can't help myself on this one - I think "Do You Know Where You're Going To" is really one of the great pop-R&B records of the '70s, and perhaps the finest solo record Diana Ross ever produced. Mahogany is a mess and to some extent reminds me of Valley of the Dolls, which too featured a dazzling theme, performed in that case by Dionne Warwick. Somehow, these two turgid soap operas managed to bring out the very best in two of the greatest artists of the '60s/'70s. I'm sure I'll get plenty of shit for not picking "I'm Easy" here but I have no qualms about siding with this dazzling piece of Motown pop.
The Oscar-winners ranked (thus far)...
- "Over the Rainbow," The Wizard of Oz (1939)
- "The Way You Look Tonight," Swing Time (1936)
- "High Hopes," A Hole in the Head (1959)
- "Whatever Will Be, Will Be (Que Sera, Sera)," The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956)
- "Mona Lisa," Captain Carey, U.S.A. (1950)
- "Baby, It's Cold Outside," Neptune's Daughter (1949)
- "The Windmills of Your Mind," The Thomas Crown Affair (1968)
- "The Way We Were," The Way We Were (1973)
- "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head," Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)
- "High Noon (Do Not Forsake Me, On My Darlin')," High Noon (1952)
- "I'm Easy," Nashville (1975)
- "You'll Never Know," Hello, Frisco, Hello (1943)
- "On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe," The Harvey Girls (1946)
- "Theme from Shaft," Shaft (1971)
- "Secret Love," Calamity Jane (1953)
- "White Christmas," Holiday Inn (1942)
- "Moon River," Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961)
- "When You Wish Upon a Star," Pinocchio (1940)
- "Thanks for the Memory," The Big Broadcast of 1938 (1938)
- "Lullaby of Broadway," Gold Diggers of 1935 (1935)
- "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah," Song of the South (1947)
- "Days of Wine and Roses," Days of Wine and Roses (1962)
- "For All We Know," Lovers and Other Strangers (1970)
- "All the Way," The Joker Is Wild (1957)
- "It Might As Well Be Spring," State Fair (1945)
- "The Last Time I Saw Paris," Lady Be Good (1941)
- "In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening," Here Comes the Groom (1951)
- "Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing," Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing (1955)
- "Born Free," Born Free (1966)
- "Never on Sunday," Never on Sunday (1960)
- "Three Coins in the Fountain," Three Coins in the Fountain (1954)
- "Chim Chim Cher-ee," Mary Poppins (1964)
- "Call Me Irresponsible," Papa's Delicate Condition (1963)
- "Swinging on a Star," Going My Way (1944)
- "Gigi," Gigi (1958)
- "The Continental," The Gay Divorcee (1934)
- "Sweet Leilani," Waikiki Wedding (1937)
- "Buttons and Bows," The Paleface (1948)
- "Talk to the Animals," Doctor Dolittle (1967)
- "The Shadow of Your Smile," The Sandpiper (1965)
- "The Morning After," The Poseidon Adventure (1972)
- "We May Never Love Like This Again," The Towering Inferno (1974)