For the second year in a row, this category has given the majority of its nominations to a single movie only to give the award to a different one. Okay, maybe it’s a couple weeks too soon to make that call, but listen to all five nominees and then you tell me if you think Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz’s “self-parody” is biting enough to actually merit the sort of attention it’s getting here. “Happy Working Song” may well be in front of the mirthless production number “That’s How You Know” among Enchanted’s self-deprecating tunes, if only because anyone dim enough to think S&M are operating on Sondheimian levels of musical theatre wit will no doubt react with glee to hear Snow White’s “Whistle While You Work” contemplate the joy of cleaning crud from the toilet. (If I didn’t know better, I’d surmise the references to squeaky-clean potties to be fiercely meta.) Similarly, it’s difficult to believe there are that many who thrill when the toothless satire of those two songs gives way to the gummy adult contemporary of “So Close,” which is only satirical to the extent that it fully embraces the hope that pop music hasn’t changed a bit since 1992. Still, it wouldn’t be the first time that Oscar has settled a Disney three-way by simply picking the one with the slowest tempo, and if the other two nominees (not to mention last year’s very solemn-minded choice in this category) are any indication, sincerity is the order of the day here. August Rush’s pathetic score over at Rotten Tomatoes makes it a solid rival with Norbit and Elizabeth: The Golden Age as the worst-reviewed Oscar nominee, but a quick glance at the IMDB message boards indicates this isn’t song even considered the movie’s best by the film’s two or three admitted fans. It’s no wonder, since it builds up to a climax that never comes, sounding like the prelude for something much more exciting, like this. Instead, expect the same voters who handed trophies over to “It’s Hard Out There for a Pimp” and “Lose Yourself” to endorse “Falling Slowly,” another song whose existence becomes the film’s entire reason for being, which is no small deal considering last August the movie looked like it was rushing toward a Best Picture nomination.
Will Win: “Falling Slowly,” Once
Should Win: “Falling Slowly,” Once