1988 Best Original Song - Carly Simon's Grand Oscar Moment

WON: "Let the River Run," Working Girl

SHOULD'VE WON: "Calling You," Bagdad Cafe

In two respects, 1988 is a remarkable year of Best Original Song at the Oscars - one, as an all-around outstanding line-up of nominees (frankly, a rarity in this category), and second, as a bit of curiosity, as the Academy mysteriously opted on this occasion to recognize just three songs.

Only twice before in Oscar history had this occurred, in the first two years of Best Original Song, 1934 and 1935. What's especially puzzling is there was no shortage of other efforts to recognize here - for instance, The Beach Boys' '80s comeback with "Kokomo" (from Cocktail) and the entire Oliver & Company soundtrack.

Regardless of what the Academy was oddly thinking in that regard, they did recognize three terrific tunes here and, while a slimmer selection, they're among the most satisfying sets of nominees I've encountered thus far in Original Song.

I don't have the slightest quibble with Carly Simon having scored her Oscar here for Working Girl's memorable and wholly appropriate "Let the River Run" theme, other than to say the song isn't quite my favorite here. The victory served as something of a consolation prize in several respects - one, as a make-up win for Simon having egregiously lost for "Nobody Does It Better" back in '77, and two, as a prize for the film, which was otherwise (I would argue totally unfairly) shut out on Oscar night. But it's also a lot more than that - it's among Simon's strongest work for sure, an immensely catchy piece of adult contemporary-pop that especially soars once the chorus kicks in.

To a lesser extent, I also like Phil Collins' "Two Hearts," from his misfire film debut Buster. It's a peppy, if somewhat fleeting record that, while hardly on-par with something like "Against All Odds," is much more enjoyable than say, "Up Where We Belong" and "I Just Called to Say I Love You." This is also, in my humble opinion at least, one of the last times Collins was fun and loose, before he started getting all heavy-handed and syrupy.

Even better than the Simon and Collins tracks this year, however, is Bagdad Cafe's "Calling You," a truly glorious piece of music by composer Bob Telson, performed so stunningly here by the great gospel singer Jevetta Steele. It's a song tailored to the most gifted of vocalists, so it shouldn't surprise that the likes of Celine Dion, Barbra Streisand and Jeff Buckley went on to cover it. A brilliant song from a supremely underrated 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. "(I've Had) the Time of My Life," Dirty Dancing (1987)
  8. "The Windmills of Your Mind," The Thomas Crown Affair (1968)
  9. "The Way We Were," The Way We Were (1973)
  10. "Let the River Run," Working Girl (1988)
  11. "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head," Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)
  12. "High Noon (Do Not Forsake Me, On My Darlin')," High Noon (1952)
  13. "I'm Easy," Nashville (1975)
  14. "You'll Never Know," Hello, Frisco, Hello (1943)
  15. "On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe," The Harvey Girls (1946)
  16. "Fame," Fame (1980)
  17. "Theme from Shaft," Shaft (1971)
  18. "Secret Love," Calamity Jane (1953)
  19. "White Christmas," Holiday Inn (1942)
  20. "Moon River," Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961)
  21. "Take My Breath Away," Top Gun (1986)
  22. "When You Wish Upon a Star," Pinocchio (1940)
  23. "Thanks for the Memory," The Big Broadcast of 1938 (1938)
  24. "Lullaby of Broadway," Gold Diggers of 1935 (1935)
  25. "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah," Song of the South (1947)
  26. "Flashdance...What a Feeling," Flashdance (1983)
  27. "Arthur's Theme (Best That You Can Do)," Arthur (1981)
  28. "Last Dance," Thank God It's Friday (1978)
  29. "Days of Wine and Roses," Days of Wine and Roses (1962)
  30. "For All We Know," Lovers and Other Strangers (1970)
  31. "All the Way," The Joker Is Wild (1957)
  32. "It Might As Well Be Spring," State Fair (1945)
  33. "The Last Time I Saw Paris," Lady Be Good (1941)
  34. "In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening," Here Comes the Groom (1951)
  35. "Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing," Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing (1955)
  36. "It Goes Like It Goes," Norma Rae (1979)
  37. "Born Free," Born Free (1966)
  38. "Never on Sunday," Never on Sunday (1960)
  39. "I Just Called to Say I Love You," The Woman in Red (1984)
  40. "Up Where We Belong," An Officer and a Gentleman (1982)
  41. "Three Coins in the Fountain," Three Coins in the Fountain (1954)
  42. "Chim Chim Cher-ee," Mary Poppins (1964)
  43. "Call Me Irresponsible," Papa's Delicate Condition (1963)
  44. "Evergreen (Theme from A Star Is Born)," A Star Is Born (1976)
  45. "Swinging on a Star," Going My Way (1944)
  46. "You Light Up My Life," You Light Up My Life (1977)
  47. "Gigi," Gigi (1958)
  48. "The Continental," The Gay Divorcee (1934)
  49. "Sweet Leilani," Waikiki Wedding (1937)
  50. "Buttons and Bows," The Paleface (1948)
  51. "Talk to the Animals," Doctor Dolittle (1967)
  52. "The Shadow of Your Smile," The Sandpiper (1965)
  53. "Say You, Say Me," White Nights (1985)
  54. "The Morning After," The Poseidon Adventure (1972)
  55. "We May Never Love Like This Again," The Towering Inferno (1974)