2004 Best Original Song - Counting Crows? Why, Academy, Why?!?!

WON AND SHOULD'VE WON: "Al otro lado del río," The Motorcycle Diaries

In 1960, "Never on Sunday," from the eponymous Melinda Mercouri picture, became the first foreign language film to score victory in the category of Best Original Song. Up until '04, however, no Spanish-language song had triumphed here.

There were a few nominees prior to the win for The Motorcycle Diaries' "Al otro lado del río" - for instance, '44's "Rio de Janeiro," from Brazil, and '92's "Beautiful Maria of My Soul," from The Mambo Kings - but no victories. Jorge Drexler at last shattered that glass ceiling in '04, even if the Academy trampled on his historic moment a bit by egregiously not allowing Drexler to perform his own song at the Oscar ceremony. (Instead, the Academy invited the more A-list likes of Antonio Banderas and Carlos Santana. Drexler's acceptance speech, in which he sang a few lines, could not have been more pitch-perfect.)

Not only was Drexter's win a groundbreaking victory but also a deserving one, though not exactly because "Al otro lado del río" was an extraordinary piece of music. It's a fine, nicely performed and produced tune but nothing terribly remarkable. It only really stands out on account of the jaw-dropping weakness of the rest of the line-up.

It's hard to select a runner-up in a batch this anemic but I suppose my second favorite here would be another song from a foreign language film (this time from France), The Chorus' "Look to Your Path." It's a marvelous picture, deservedly nominated this year for Best Foreign Language Film, but beyond some pleasant harmonies, there's not much here to get excited about when it comes to the song.

At least "Look to Your Path" isn't cringe-inducing, like "Learn to Be Lonely," from Joel Schumacher's trainwreck film adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Phantom of the Opera, or "Accidentally in Love," Counting Crows' nauseating bubble gum pop abomination from Shrek 2. Please note that Adam Duritz has an Oscar nomination, while Donald Sutherland and Mia Farrow do not.

The final nominee falls somewhere between the top two and bottom-of-the-barrel two - Alan Silvestri's "Believe," from The Polar Express, performed here by Josh Groban, who was pretty damn beloved around this time in the mid-'00s. The production is decent-enough here but I've never been too fond of Groban's vocal work - I find it more bombastic than anything else - and the lyrics are like having a gallon of molasses poured into one's ears.

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. "Al otro lado del río," The Motorcycle Diaries (2004)
  56. "Things Have Changed," Wonder Boys (2000)
  57. "Swinging on a Star," Going My Way (1944)
  58. "Into the West," The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)
  59. "If I Didn't Have You," Monsters, Inc. (2001)
  60. "You'll Be in My Heart," Tarzan (1999)
  61. "You Light Up My Life," You Light Up My Life (1977)
  62. "Gigi," Gigi (1958)
  63. "The Continental," The Gay Divorcee (1934)
  64. "Sweet Leilani," Waikiki Wedding (1937)
  65. "Buttons and Bows," The Paleface (1948)
  66. "Talk to the Animals," Doctor Dolittle (1967)
  67. "The Shadow of Your Smile," The Sandpiper (1965)
  68. "When You Believe," The Prince of Egypt (1998)
  69. "Say You, Say Me," White Nights (1985)
  70. "The Morning After," The Poseidon Adventure (1972)
  71. "We May Never Love Like This Again," The Towering Inferno (1974)