1993 Best Original Song - Songs from the City of Brotherly Love

WON: "Streets of Philadelphia," Philadelphia

SHOULD'VE WON: "Philadelphia," Philadelphia

For two reasons, and really just those two reasons alone, 1993 is remarkable year in Best Original Song at the Oscars, a line-up that includes two of my very favorite tracks to ever grace the category - "Philadelphia" and "Streets of Philadelphia," both from the Jonathan Demme film, which marked the first mainstream, big-budget picture to address HIV/AIDS.

I don't think Philadelphia, as a film, works quite as incredibly as it should - while Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington (and the pitch-perfectly cold Jason Robards and Mary Steenburgen, to boot) are both in top form and the picture does boast many moving moments, particularly outside the rather familiar courtroom setting, I think it's played more than just a tad too safe. It isn't as compelling as that year's And the Band Played On, nor as it as devastating as 1990's Longtime Companion. It's a commendable, engaging-enough film that played a useful role in educating (and, in many cases, smacking sense into) a wider sect of moviegoers but I do not consider it one of the finest in LGBT cinema.

What I do, however, find truly extraordinary about Philadelphia is the film's soundtrack, which not only featured the nominated Bruce Springsteen and Neil Young songs but also tunes from the likes of Peter Gabriel, Sade and the Indigo Girls.

While it isn't my pick in this category, I can hardly knock Springsteen's victory for "Streets of Philadelphia," a song I consider both one of the artist's greatest efforts to date and one of the all-time best winners in this category (clocking in, for now, at #4 among the 60 winners of Best Original Song I've reviewed). Everything here, in terms of music, lyrics and vocal, works splendidly, perfectly fitting for the film, and it was a deserving honoree at the following year's Grammys, where it picked up Song of the Year and a trio of other assorted prizes.

With that said, I'm not sure any Best Original Song nominee, of any year, could top Young's "Philadelphia" for me - it really might be my favorite nominee in this category's history.

The first time I sat down and watched the Demme film, it was the Young track, which plays over the home movies of Andrew Beckett during the picture's conclusion, that most stuck with me. It's among the most haunting pieces of music I've ever encountered, a record that rattles me every time I listen. Young's lyrics and performance, especially in the context of the film, are absolutely extraordinary. As much as I appreciate all of the accolades the Springsteen song deservedly garnered, I think it's a real shame the Young track went mostly unnoticed, sans the Oscar nom.

As for the rest of '93 Original Song, it's pretty slim pickings, though Janet Jackson's "Again," from her motion picture debut in John Singleton's Poetic Justice, is a fine, plenty listenable piece of R&B-pop. The remaining two contenders, "The Day I Fall in Love" (a duet for James Ingram and Dolly Parton) and "A Wink and a Smile" (one of Harry Connick Jr.'s many wannabe-standards from this time) more or less fade into the background.

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. "Streets of Philadelphia," Philadelphia (1993)
  5. "Whatever Will Be, Will Be (Que Sera, Sera)," The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956)
  6. "Mona Lisa," Captain Carey, U.S.A. (1950)
  7. "Baby, It's Cold Outside," Neptune's Daughter (1949)
  8. "(I've Had) the Time of My Life," Dirty Dancing (1987)
  9. "The Windmills of Your Mind," The Thomas Crown Affair (1968)
  10. "The Way We Were," The Way We Were (1973)
  11. "Let the River Run," Working Girl (1988)
  12. "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head," Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)
  13. "Under the Sea," The Little Mermaid (1989)
  14. "High Noon (Do Not Forsake Me, On My Darlin')," High Noon (1952)
  15. "Beauty and the Beast," Beauty and the Beast (1991)
  16. "I'm Easy," Nashville (1975)
  17. "You'll Never Know," Hello, Frisco, Hello (1943)
  18. "On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe," The Harvey Girls (1946)
  19. "Fame," Fame (1980)
  20. "Theme from Shaft," Shaft (1971)
  21. "Secret Love," Calamity Jane (1953)
  22. "White Christmas," Holiday Inn (1942)
  23. "Moon River," Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961)
  24. "Take My Breath Away," Top Gun (1986)
  25. "When You Wish Upon a Star," Pinocchio (1940)
  26. "Thanks for the Memory," The Big Broadcast of 1938 (1938)
  27. "Lullaby of Broadway," Gold Diggers of 1935 (1935)
  28. "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah," Song of the South (1947)
  29. "A Whole New World," Aladdin (1992)
  30. "Flashdance...What a Feeling," Flashdance (1983)
  31. "Arthur's Theme (Best That You Can Do)," Arthur (1981)
  32. "Last Dance," Thank God It's Friday (1978)
  33. "Sooner or Later (I Always Get My Man)," Dick Tracy (1990)
  34. "Days of Wine and Roses," Days of Wine and Roses (1962)
  35. "For All We Know," Lovers and Other Strangers (1970)
  36. "All the Way," The Joker Is Wild (1957)
  37. "It Might As Well Be Spring," State Fair (1945)
  38. "The Last Time I Saw Paris," Lady Be Good (1941)
  39. "In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening," Here Comes the Groom (1951)
  40. "Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing," Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing (1955)
  41. "It Goes Like It Goes," Norma Rae (1979)
  42. "Born Free," Born Free (1966)
  43. "Never on Sunday," Never on Sunday (1960)
  44. "I Just Called to Say I Love You," The Woman in Red (1984)
  45. "Up Where We Belong," An Officer and a Gentleman (1982)
  46. "Three Coins in the Fountain," Three Coins in the Fountain (1954)
  47. "Chim Chim Cher-ee," Mary Poppins (1964)
  48. "Call Me Irresponsible," Papa's Delicate Condition (1963)
  49. "Evergreen (Theme from A Star Is Born)," A Star Is Born (1976)
  50. "Swinging on a Star," Going My Way (1944)
  51. "You Light Up My Life," You Light Up My Life (1977)
  52. "Gigi," Gigi (1958)
  53. "The Continental," The Gay Divorcee (1934)
  54. "Sweet Leilani," Waikiki Wedding (1937)
  55. "Buttons and Bows," The Paleface (1948)
  56. "Talk to the Animals," Doctor Dolittle (1967)
  57. "The Shadow of Your Smile," The Sandpiper (1965)
  58. "Say You, Say Me," White Nights (1985)
  59. "The Morning After," The Poseidon Adventure (1972)
  60. "We May Never Love Like This Again," The Towering Inferno (1974)