Academy Awards: 5 Oscar-Nominated Songs That Should Have Won But Didn’t

Mike Wood | February 21, 2013 5:30 am

It’s happened to so many of us who devote all the days (and evenings) of our lives to watching the litany of awards shows that come our way this time of year: you’re rooting for your favorite to take the statue, but when the winner is announced another guy, gal, song, artist or act wins. And you want to scream, cry or take to drinking (we do all three) because you know in your gut that another song should have secured that prize. Happens all the time, right?

Well, Hollywood’s big movie awards are less than a week away, and we’re still obsessing over the music. As we mull over this year’s Academy Award nominations for Best Original Song, we can’t help but wonder about what should have been from Oscars past. Sure, they may get it right most of the time, but sometimes the Academy misses the mark (as it did often in the early 2000s). Below we look back at the last 15 years and make a case for five of our favorite Oscar-nominated songs that should have landed the little bald dude, but didn’t.

Should Have Won: “I Don’t Want to Miss A Thing” from Armageddon, 1998

Since you can’t win an Oscar for being the Most Awful Movie of the Year (or Ever), you might as well get to compete in a few other categories. With all of director Michael Bay’s stars-and-stripes-waving-in-the-wind scenes and meticulously-choreographed, slow-motion, mid-America montages, it would have seemed downright un-American, we suppose, for Armageddon not get some stateside awards attention. So why not let an icon like Diane Warren (who wrote the music and the lyrics) walk away with a statuette for the schmaltzy ballad that happens to be the very best thing about this disastrous disaster flick? If you can get past the image of a young Ben Affleck parading animal crackers on Liv Tyler’s bare midriff and belly button (seriously) while Liv’s dad Steven Tyler sings to the seduction of his daughter on a prairie somewhere, you know you just love Warren’s song — even if it is a love/hate relationship. Sometimes cheeseball songs makes us feel better than, well, cheese or chicken soup, and we’re not ashamed to admit it. Besides, who remembers anything about a cartoon called The Prince of Egypt today, anyway? Anybody? C’mon now!

Winner: “When You Believe” from The Prince of Egypt

Should Have Won: “A Kiss At The End Of The Rainbow” from A Mighty Wind, 2003

When a little ditty with heart that is simultaneously mocking itself can sneak itself into the running for Best Original Song at the Oscars, we say, “Hip, hip, hooray!” Christopher Guest’s characters Mitch and Mickey (Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara) perform the song at a pivotal point in the movie A Mighty Wind and we are whisked away into a flurry of mixed emotions — this being a good thing! The music and lyrics by married-to-each-other actors Michael McKean and Annette O’Toole are both sweet and syrupy, but hysterical all the same,because of the actors’ committed delivery: “My sweet, my dear, my darling, you’re so far away from me / Though an ocean of tears divides us, let the bridge of our love span the sea.” And we die. Comedic brilliance marries sweet sentiment, and born is a song so sincere that it’s both touching and hilarious. Now that deserves Oscar gold, if not a pot of gold.

Winner: “Into the West” from The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

Should Have Won: “Learn To Be Lonely” from The Phantom Of The Opera, 2004

Andrew Lloyd Webber’s big-screen adaptation of his beloved stage musical has those who love it and those who loathe it. But what can’t be denied — even by those most ardent detractors and critics of the film — is that the man has a talent for song. The lyrics (by Webber and Charles Hart) and melody (by Webber, of course) can be interpreted as either sad or empowering depending on your state of mind at the moment you listen and your own outlook on life. Letting your audience decide for themselves whether they should sob about being alone or rejoice because of it is a masterful trick that not many composers or lyricists can pull off.

Winner: “Al otro lado del río” from The Motorcycle Diaries

Should Have Won: “Travelin’ Thru” from Transamerica, 2005

We’ll put this right out there in the open: we’re a sucker for anything Dolly. That’s reason enough for us to think she should have won this award, hands-down and without question. But this song isn’t just anything by Ms. Parton; there is a depth to this number that is far-reaching and even groundbreaking. She wrote the music and the lyrics, and she even sings the song for the film’s transgender character who is just trying to find her place in a world that won’t accept her. It of course does so much more because it can apply to anybody who has ever had to struggle to find out who they truly are. Searching for one’s identity while going through life’s ups and downs is a universal theme, and Dolly covers the territory beautifully. It packs an extra wallop if you’re really tuning in to the lyrics. Not that same kind of wallop a pimp packs. But we digress.

Winner: “It’s Hard Out Here For A Pimp” from Hustle & Flow

Should Have Won: “Listen” from Dreamgirls, 2006

We touched on this one last week, and we’re sticking to our guns: This song deserved an Oscar! Period. Or exclamation point! Beyonce was robbed! Robbed we say. Okay, technically Bey wasn’t even nominated, but let’s be real — this is her song. Even though two other numbers from Dreamgirls were nominated, all bets were on Mrs. Cartner, because she got her star-musical-moment in the film to shine against Jennifer Hudson’s show-stopping “And I Am Telling You.” Well, Bey didn’t win, nor did any of the “Listen” writers or composers or the lyricists or composers for any of the other Dreamgirls-nominated songs. Instead, a song from a documentary about global warming beat them all. We know global warming is important, but don’t make the Queen B angry—that’s like messing with Mother Nature herself!

Winner: “I Need to Wake Up” from An Inconvenient Truth