The 93rd Academy Awards, honoring the cinematic achievements of 2020 and the first two months of 2021, will be happening in about two weeks or so, and as I’ve done occasionally over the course of the past few years, I wanted to take a look at this season’s nominees for Best Original Song. I’ll offer my thoughts on each song, and at the end, I’ll predict which song will win and which song I would choose to win if I had the only vote. My predictions haven’t exactly had the best track record, but perhaps this might be a year I get it right.
We start off with Husavik (My Hometown), which was featured in 2020’s Eurovision Song Contest: The Story Of Fire Saga.
Husavik, written by Rickard Goransson, Fat Max Gsus, and Savan Kotecha, is an interesting song. It’s a sweeping ballad about the movie’s protagonist Sigrit (Rachel McAdams, though the singing was done by My Marianne) expressing love for both her hometown and her singing partner Lars (Will Ferrell). That’s where it trips me up…Not the sentiments, but the fact that Will Ferrell is in it.
I’ve always had difficulty understanding irony as a result of my autism spectrum disorder, so it’s been very difficult for me to understand Will Ferrell’s brand of humor as it’s very much based in irony. Henceforth, I’m somewhat confused about both Husavik (My Hometown) and its’ film of origin, Eurovision Song Contest. Is the song meant to be sincere or a joke? Is the concept of the movie an affectionate parody or a vicious Take That? I’ll interpret the song as sincere. The lyrics of Husavik paint a picture of how one can truly find beauty not only in another person, but in where they come from. I hope that’s how the song was supposed to be interpreted.
The second song on the list is Fight For You from 2021’s Judas And The Black Messiah.
Fight For You, written by H.E.R, D’Mile, and Tiara Thomas, is a song that perfectly captures the musical sound of the late 60s, the era in which the film is set. The lyrics pay tribute to Fred Hampton, the famous leader of the Black Panther Party who worked to make life better for the black community before he was tragically murdered in 1969. Fight For You sounds straight out of that era. It’s a song that could easily have been written by Stevie Wonder or Marvin Gaye.
Even as the earliest Baby Boomers are well into their 70s, we’re still trying to figure out how to deal with the troubles of the 1960s. For all the progress that’s been made since then, we’re still dealing with the problems of racism, sexism and the other isms that defined the serious side of the 60s. Movies like Judas And The Black Messiah help shine a light on parts of the 60s that may not often be discussed, but should be. We need to continue discussing matters like Fred Hampton’s murder to try and make sure that perhaps the generations after us can do better than we have.
The third nominated song is Seen (Io Si) from The Life Ahead.
Written by Diane Warren and Laura Pausini, Seen (Io Si) captures vividly the ideals of the movie. Put briefly, The Life Ahead is about an aged former prostitute, played by Sophia Loren, who takes care of a Senegalese immigrant boy after he robs her, and tries to help him to a better life even as she’s losing control of her own. The song is about how there are people out there who do know your pain and who understand what you’re going through. Empathy is a noble trait, and I think the world needs more of it.
I’m of the mind that empathy can be learned as well as come naturally. It took me a long time to learn empathy. I had difficulty understanding other people’s lives. It wasn’t intentional, though. I just had so much on my plate as a result of my autism spectrum disorder that I didn’t even bother to see what the person next to me had on their plate. It took my mom’s passing, a changeover in medications, and the help of a psychologist who understands the autism spectrum, to get me to understand empathy. I now always try to put myself in another person’s shoes. It isn’t always easy, but I make every effort I can to do so. Empathy can make the world a better place, and Seen (Io Si) demonstrates the importance of that idea.
The fourth nominee for Best Original Song is Speak Now from 2020’s One Night In Miami.
The song, written by Leslie Odom Jr. and Sam Ashworth, is another reflection on life in the 1960s and its’ impact reverberating decades later. The movie, based on a play by Kemp Powers, who also wrote the movie’s screenplay, details a fictional summit between four black icons, Muhammad Ali, then known as Cassius Clay (Eli Goree), Jim Brown (Aldis Hodge), Sam Cooke (Odom Jr.), and Malcolm X (Kingsley Ben-Adir), who brings the other three together. All four of them have made an impact that’s still being felt to this day, and this story helps illustrate the impact they had not only on the world, but on each other.
As alluded to when discussing Judas And The Black Messiah, racism is still a very real problem. One needs only see that it’s a problem when discussing the feedback that Black Lives Matter gets. Many people ask, “Don’t all lives matter?”. That’s not the point. The idea is to communicate that black lives are important. Think of all the victims of police brutality over the course of the past few decades, and especially in the 2010s. This is where empathy is needed.
I will admit to having said some incredibly hurtful and offensive things in my past about a wide variety of races and people. I was angry and bitter for all of the 00s, as well as the first year-and-a-half of the New 10s, but with the help of therapy, I came to understand the importance of having an open mind. I now support ideas and causes that a younger, more unstable me would not have. I’ve lost some friends for speaking about my conversion to a liberal political outlook, but treating the world in a kinder manner is worth it. Speak Now is a song about the importance of standing up for the right ideals (equality, representation, kindness), and that’s something we all need to do.
Wrapping up the article, we come to a third song from a movie set in the 1960s. The song is Hear My Voice from The Trial Of The Chicago 7.
Hear My Voice, written by Daniel Pemberton and Celeste, is a song that represents what the Chicago 7 were trying to do. They were trying to get an older generation to understand their viewpoint about things like how hurtful the Vietnam War was. Some of them acted in a theatrical manner, while others were more subtle, but they were trying to communicate some very important points about the hurtfulness of war. That was the idea behind the famous chant “The whole world is watching!”: Hear my voice. Hear our voices.
As the son of a Vietnam veteran, it may seem odd for me to agree with what the Chicago 7 were trying to say, but again, this was something I had to learn. I was so scared by the 9/11 attacks that I became a one-issue voter for the first three elections of my adult life. I’ve said before that I collect Social Security Disability and I have no problems with the LGBTQ community, but I was voting for a party that wants to cut the former and end rights for the latter, simply because my bullshit detector was off and, as a result of my autism spectrum disorder, I took the people who said that if you didn’t support the War On Terror, you hated the troops and you hated your country, at face value.
I would eventually stop supporting the War On Terror, and again, with the help of therapy, I came to understand that you don’t need to support the war to support the troops. The Chicago 7 were not against people like my father. They were against the higher-ups who put people like my father in that situation. I regret supporting the War On Terror for the period of time that I did, and I know that if my dad had survived his heart attack, he would’ve taught me the importance of peace sooner.
Those are your five nominees for Best Original Song, and now I offer my prediction for the winner, as well as my personal preference.
My prediction is that Fight For You from Judas And The Black Messiah will take home the Best Original Song Oscar for the 2020-to-February-2021 Oscar season. The instrumentation is a throwback to the late 60s, when the New Hollywood was rising, while the lyrics speak to concerns we’re still dealing with more than half-a-century after Fred Hampton’s murder. This song will be following in the tradition of Glory, the song from Selma that won the Oscar for Best Original Song in 2015 for the 2014 movie year.
My personal preference is for Seen (Io Si) from The Life Ahead. The song speaks to the side of me that does its’ best to empathize with people walking paths that I don’t. It makes me think of what I can do to try to see how others view the world. Also, Seen (Io Si) marks Diane Warren’s 12th nomination in the Best Original Song category, and I would love dearly to see her win. She’s had Best Original Song nominations going all the way back to the 1980s, but she’s yet to claim the prize. Although Fight For You is a fantastic song, and will most likely take home the Oscar, if it was just my one vote that chose who won the award, I would go with Seen (Io Si).
Will my prediction be right or wrong? We’ll find out on Sunday, April 25th. See you all there.