The issue here isn’t that the Academy is cluelessly overlooking tons of worthy original songs. (Although that did happen this year — the list of eligible 2013 songs included Rick Ross’s amazing Django contribution “100 Black Coffins,” Fiona Apple’s “Dull Tool” fromThis Is 40, and Katy Perry’s “Wide Awake,” all of which at least deserved the chance to lose to Adele.) The real problem is that they’re just not making “original songs,” as defined by the Academy’s eligibility requirements, like they used to back when Marvin Hamlisch was earning his EGOT.
The occasional “Falling Slowly” or “It’s Hard Out Here” notwithstanding, the category now exists mostly to honor achievements in a phantom genre called “movie music” whose raison d’être is to grub for awards and make the Oscar telecast go by even more slowly. (It looks like this year’s show — produced by Smash’s Neil Meron and Craig Zadan and hosted by show-tune geek Seth MacFarlane — will be (a) 18 hours long, and (b) essentially indistinguishable from the Tonys, complete with gratuitous Kristin Chenoweth.)
His suggestion is to do away with best original song in favor of two awards, best soundtrack and best original score. I love this idea. I would also suggest it’s time for the Academy Awards to honor opening title sequences, which have become an art unto themselves in the past decade.