2003 Best Original Song - A Mighty Wind Blows the Oscars

WON: "Into the West," The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

SHOULD'VE WON: "A Kiss at the End of the Rainbow," A Mighty Wind

There was no shortage of fine cinema in 2003. Beyond The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, which all but swept that year's Oscars, including in Best Original Song, you had marvelous fellow Oscar-bait like Girl with a Pearl Earring and House of Sand and Fog, plus American Splendor, Festival Express, Shattered Glass, Swimming Pool and 21 Grams, among others. (And how could I forget Something's Gotta Give, which I of course have to watch every time it airs on Lifetime.)

My very favorite film of '03, however, is Christopher Guest's deliriously wonderful A Mighty Wind, a picture I consider not only the best of Guest's genius set of mockumentaries but among the finest movies of the whole decade - heck, I'd probably throw it on a longlist of all-time greatest comedies to boot. What I love about the picture so much, beyond the dozens upon dozens of truly laugh-out-loud moments, is how much heart and soul it also has, namely in the characters of Mitch and Mickey, portrayed by Eugene Levy and Catherine O'Hara in sweet, career-best turns.

I remember following that year's Oscar season and being delighted by Levy's surprise Best Supporting Actor victory at NYFCC. The picture showed up here and there too, mostly for the film's fun title song but what I really wanted to see happen was for the picture's best song, "A Kiss at the End of the Rainbow," to show up in Best Original Song. My fear, of course, was A Mighty Wind would get shut out altogether by the stuffy Academy.

Alas, I was to be pleasantly surprised - Michael McKean and Annette O'Toole indeed did garner nominations for writing that sublime piece, giving Levy and O'Hara the opportunity to (pitch-perfectly) perform the track live at the Oscars. I, of course, was in heaven that evening.

That said, there was no doubt in my mind what would actually triumph in Best Original Song that evening - Annie Lennox would ride the LOTR: ROTK wave to victory with "Into the West," a tune nicely performed and certainly appropriate for the picture but not something that I think quite holds up on its own terms, beyond the context of the film. It's also hardly as interesting as most of Lennox's solo work and efforts as part of Eurythmics.

The two nominees from Cold Mountain, both performed with great nuance by Alison Krauss, are also a bit tough to get excited about. "You Will Be My Ain True Love," written by Sting, has a little more oomph and passion than Elvis Costello and T-Bone Burnett's "Scarlet Tide," which is a pretty lethargic record beyond Krauss' fine vocal. Better than the songs from the two epics is the endearing "Belleville Rendez-vous," from that year's fantastic The Triplets of Belleville.

Snubs this year? Even though Mona Lisa Smile is a bit of a dud, I can't help but love Elton John's "The Heart of Every Girl" from the film.

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. "Lose Yourself," 8 Mile (2002)
  6. "Whatever Will Be, Will Be (Que Sera, Sera)," The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956)
  7. "Mona Lisa," Captain Carey, U.S.A. (1950)
  8. "Baby, It's Cold Outside," Neptune's Daughter (1949)
  9. "(I've Had) the Time of My Life," Dirty Dancing (1987)
  10. "The Windmills of Your Mind," The Thomas Crown Affair (1968)
  11. "The Way We Were," The Way We Were (1973)
  12. "Let the River Run," Working Girl (1988)
  13. "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head," Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)
  14. "Under the Sea," The Little Mermaid (1989)
  15. "High Noon (Do Not Forsake Me, On My Darlin')," High Noon (1952)
  16. "Can You Feel the Love Tonight," The Lion King (1994)
  17. "Beauty and the Beast," Beauty and the Beast (1991)
  18. "I'm Easy," Nashville (1975)
  19. "You'll Never Know," Hello, Frisco, Hello (1943)
  20. "On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe," The Harvey Girls (1946)
  21. "Fame," Fame (1980)
  22. "Theme from Shaft," Shaft (1971)
  23. "Secret Love," Calamity Jane (1953)
  24. "White Christmas," Holiday Inn (1942)
  25. "Moon River," Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961)
  26. "Take My Breath Away," Top Gun (1986)
  27. "When You Wish Upon a Star," Pinocchio (1940)
  28. "Thanks for the Memory," The Big Broadcast of 1938 (1938)
  29. "Lullaby of Broadway," Gold Diggers of 1935 (1935)
  30. "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah," Song of the South (1947)
  31. "A Whole New World," Aladdin (1992)
  32. "My Heart Will Go On," Titanic (1997)
  33. "Flashdance...What a Feeling," Flashdance (1983)
  34. "Arthur's Theme (Best That You Can Do)," Arthur (1981)
  35. "Last Dance," Thank God It's Friday (1978)
  36. "Colors of the Wind," Pocahontas (1995)
  37. "You Must Love Me," Evita (1996)
  38. "Sooner or Later (I Always Get My Man)," Dick Tracy (1990)
  39. "Days of Wine and Roses," Days of Wine and Roses (1962)
  40. "For All We Know," Lovers and Other Strangers (1970)
  41. "All the Way," The Joker Is Wild (1957)
  42. "It Might As Well Be Spring," State Fair (1945)
  43. "The Last Time I Saw Paris," Lady Be Good (1941)
  44. "In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening," Here Comes the Groom (1951)
  45. "Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing," Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing (1955)
  46. "It Goes Like It Goes," Norma Rae (1979)
  47. "Born Free," Born Free (1966)
  48. "Never on Sunday," Never on Sunday (1960)
  49. "I Just Called to Say I Love You," The Woman in Red (1984)
  50. "Up Where We Belong," An Officer and a Gentleman (1982)
  51. "Three Coins in the Fountain," Three Coins in the Fountain (1954)
  52. "Chim Chim Cher-ee," Mary Poppins (1964)
  53. "Call Me Irresponsible," Papa's Delicate Condition (1963)
  54. "Evergreen (Theme from A Star Is Born)," A Star Is Born (1976)
  55. "Things Have Changed," Wonder Boys (2000)
  56. "Swinging on a Star," Going My Way (1944)
  57. "Into the West," The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)
  58. "If I Didn't Have You," Monsters, Inc. (2001)
  59. "You'll Be in My Heart," Tarzan (1999)
  60. "You Light Up My Life," You Light Up My Life (1977)
  61. "Gigi," Gigi (1958)
  62. "The Continental," The Gay Divorcee (1934)
  63. "Sweet Leilani," Waikiki Wedding (1937)
  64. "Buttons and Bows," The Paleface (1948)
  65. "Talk to the Animals," Doctor Dolittle (1967)
  66. "The Shadow of Your Smile," The Sandpiper (1965)
  67. "When You Believe," The Prince of Egypt (1998)
  68. "Say You, Say Me," White Nights (1985)
  69. "The Morning After," The Poseidon Adventure (1972)
  70. "We May Never Love Like This Again," The Towering Inferno (1974)