1983 Best Original Song - The Great Barbra Streisand-Jennifer Beals Duel

WON: "Flashdance...What a Feeling," Flashdance

SHOULD'VE WON: "The Way He Makes Me Feel," Yentl

Now this is a toughie.

In 1983 Best Original Song, a category dominated by Flashdance and Yentl, I could really make a solid case for four of the nominees. (The fifth, "Over You," from the Oscar-winning Robert Duvall vehicle Tender Mercies, is a sloppy piece of adult contemporary, performed by the usually great Betty Buckley yet sounding more like the Oscar-winning dreck from Maureen McGovern in the early '70s.)

Flashdance is not a great picture. It's a supremely silly one, though it does work on at least two levels - as a star-making debut vehicle for the charming Jennifer Beals and as the bearer of a plenty memorable soundtrack.

Indeed, while "Flashdance...What a Feeling" is not my personal pick in '83, I cannot knock its victory too much. Performed and written by the reliable Irene Cara, with a moving and iconic Giorgio Moroder production, it's a record that begins as a slow, steady ballad for Cara before morphing into an irresistible dance number that recalls the best of '80s pop. I'm also quite fond of the other Flashdance nominee, "Maniac," which, like the Cara-Moroder tune, is instantly recognizable from the get-go. "Maniac," which marked a collaboration between writer-performer Michael Sembello and the legendary producer Phil Ramone, was (to my great delight) inspired by the 1980 slasher cult classic of the same name.

Alas, much as I enjoy the Flashdance tracks, I think I'm ever-so-slightly more enamored with the two nominees here from Yentl, Barbra Streisand's directional debut which, really ever since its release, has gotten its fair share of shit from film critics but I would argue is an impressive, even exemplary piece of cinema, one of the last great, ambitious original musicals on the big screen.

What's interesting is the Academy didn't even nominate my favorite song from Yentl here, the sublime finale "A Piece of Sky." Instead, they went for arguably the picture's two most recognizable tunes, "Papa, Can You Hear Me" and "The Way He Makes Me Feel." Both are stunningly performed by Streisand, with incredible music and lyrics from Michel Legrand and Alan & Marilyn Bergman - all four artists are completely operating at the tops of their game here. I do think "Papa" is perhaps tad too...let's say, on the nose, lyrically speaking. "The Way He Makes Me Feel" is the more intriguing and affecting song, particularly within the context of the picture.

The Oscar-winners ranked (thus far)...

  1. "Over the Rainbow," The Wizard of Oz (1939)
  2. "The Way You Look Tonight," Swing Time (1936)
  3. "High Hopes," A Hole in the Head (1959)
  4. "Whatever Will Be, Will Be (Que Sera, Sera)," The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956)
  5. "Mona Lisa," Captain Carey, U.S.A. (1950)
  6. "Baby, It's Cold Outside," Neptune's Daughter (1949)
  7. "The Windmills of Your Mind," The Thomas Crown Affair (1968)
  8. "The Way We Were," The Way We Were (1973)
  9. "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head," Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)
  10. "High Noon (Do Not Forsake Me, On My Darlin')," High Noon (1952)
  11. "I'm Easy," Nashville (1975)
  12. "You'll Never Know," Hello, Frisco, Hello (1943)
  13. "On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe," The Harvey Girls (1946)
  14. "Fame," Fame (1980)
  15. "Theme from Shaft," Shaft (1971)
  16. "Secret Love," Calamity Jane (1953)
  17. "White Christmas," Holiday Inn (1942)
  18. "Moon River," Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961)
  19. "When You Wish Upon a Star," Pinocchio (1940)
  20. "Thanks for the Memory," The Big Broadcast of 1938 (1938)
  21. "Lullaby of Broadway," Gold Diggers of 1935 (1935)
  22. "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah," Song of the South (1947)
  23. "Flashdance...What a Feeling," Flashdance (1983)
  24. "Arthur's Theme (Best That You Can Do)," Arthur (1981)
  25. "Last Dance," Thank God It's Friday (1978)
  26. "Days of Wine and Roses," Days of Wine and Roses (1962)
  27. "For All We Know," Lovers and Other Strangers (1970)
  28. "All the Way," The Joker Is Wild (1957)
  29. "It Might As Well Be Spring," State Fair (1945)
  30. "The Last Time I Saw Paris," Lady Be Good (1941)
  31. "In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening," Here Comes the Groom (1951)
  32. "Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing," Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing (1955)
  33. "It Goes Like It Goes," Norma Rae (1979)
  34. "Born Free," Born Free (1966)
  35. "Never on Sunday," Never on Sunday (1960)
  36. "Up Where We Belong," An Officer and a Gentleman (1982)
  37. "Three Coins in the Fountain," Three Coins in the Fountain (1954)
  38. "Chim Chim Cher-ee," Mary Poppins (1964)
  39. "Call Me Irresponsible," Papa's Delicate Condition (1963)
  40. "Evergreen (Theme from A Star Is Born)," A Star Is Born (1976)
  41. "Swinging on a Star," Going My Way (1944)
  42. "You Light Up My Life," You Light Up My Life (1977)
  43. "Gigi," Gigi (1958)
  44. "The Continental," The Gay Divorcee (1934)
  45. "Sweet Leilani," Waikiki Wedding (1937)
  46. "Buttons and Bows," The Paleface (1948)
  47. "Talk to the Animals," Doctor Dolittle (1967)
  48. "The Shadow of Your Smile," The Sandpiper (1965)
  49. "The Morning After," The Poseidon Adventure (1972)
  50. "We May Never Love Like This Again," The Towering Inferno (1974)