Monday, 31 July 2017

The Doors Top 50 Countdown (#30-26) & This Week's Statistics

Hello everybody! Time for another installment of the Doors Top 50 Countdown, plus an overview of this week's statistics. Let's go!

At #30 in our countdown is the penultimate track of the eponymous first album by the Doors (1967): Take It As It Comes is about accepting what life gives you at your own pace. It was dedicated to the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, a teacher of transcendental meditation famous for leading a meditation camp in 1967 attended by The Beatles, Donovan, and Mia Farrow, after Jim Morrison attended one of his lectures.

Note the lyrical similarity here between this song and The Byrds' Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There Is a Season). Morrison says, "Time to live, time to lie, time to laugh, time to die;" The Byrds (well, actually, Ecclesiastes) say, "A time to be born, a time to die..." and so on. Morrison shows clear inspiration here, since "Turn!" was released in 1965. However, Morrison uses the Ecclesiastes' words as a jumping-off point. Ray Manzarek's impressive organ solo on this song was inspired by the works of Johann Sebastian Bach.

At #29 is a song from the Doors' last album featuring Jim Morrison, L.A. Woman (1971). The music for Hyacinth House was written by Ray Manzarek, whose composition references Frédéric Chopin's Polonaise in A-flat major, Op. 53 during the organ solo, while Morrison wrote the lyrics at guitarist Robby Krieger's beach house. According to Uncut magazine September 2011 the line, "I see the bathroom is clear," was literal. Morrison's friend Babe Hill emerged from the bathroom just as he was writing that verse. The song's writing is additionally credited to guitarist Robby Krieger and drummer John Densmore.

The use of the term Hyacinth is thought to be Morrison's way of expressing his unhappiness. Further, Hyacinthus was a beautiful youth and lover of the Greek god Apollo. According to the myth, Apollo accidentally killed Hyacinthus in a discus throwing contest when the latter ran to catch Apollo's discus in an effort to impress the god. After the unfortunate death, Apollo refused to let Hades claim the youth. Rather, from Hyacinthus' blood, Apollo created the hyacinth, a plant with a fragrant cluster of flowers.

This interpretation of Hyacinth House is furthermore based on the song's lyrical reference to another Doors' song, The End (which itself includes the line "my only friend, the end"). The line, "And I'll say it again, I need a brand new friend, the end" is thought to indicate that Morrison had suicidal thoughts and tendencies. Morrison often felt pulled because of his success and talent, while lamenting that he didn't have anyone around him that was just allowing him to be what he wanted to be: "I need a brand new friend who doesn't bother me / I need a brand new friend who doesn't trouble me / I need someone, yeah, who doesn't need me".

Only three months after L.A. Woman was complete, Morrison left for Paris, never to perform with The Doors again. It is thought that Morrison left for Paris because he was unhappy and wanted to escape his rock star lifestyle to pursue poetry. What is clear is the sadness and maturity within Morrison's voice on Hyacinth House, further enhanced by the acoustics in the studio bathroom.

At #28 is the gentle Robby Krieger composition from the album Waiting for the Sun (1968), Yes, The River Knows. The song's reviewers argue whether it's a song about suicide or spiritual rebirth. A mesmerizing song, all the same...

At #27 is another song from Waiting for the Sun. We Could Be So Good Together was initially released as the B-side of the single The Unknown Soldier. The song has been described as Morrison's way of telling his audience what kind of world they would be able to create if they simply tried.

A review in Slant Magazine described the song as "categorically pre-fame Morrison" ("The time you wait subtracts from joy" is the kind of hippie idealism he'd long given up on), thus implying that this is one of the songs that The Doors had written long before the recording sessions for their third album, and that it is among those pieces, which had not already been used on The Doors or Strange Days.

At #26 is the second song for today from L.A. Woman. The Wasp (Texas Radio & The Big Beat) typifies the blend of poetry and music which so entranced Patti Smith. The lyrics were written some years previously and Morrison initially performed them as poetry before Manzarek and drummer John Densmore conjured up this crackling funk beat. Effectively a eulogy to Morrison’s inspiration by music, the vivid language and imagery describes the impact of hearing DJs such as Wolfman Jack in his youth as they blasted out of Texas and Virginia, mesmerizing the youngster and the “friends I have gathered together on this thin raft … Out here on the perimeter there are no stars/Out here we is stoned – immaculate.”

The verse, "Comes out of the Virginia swamps cool and slow with plenty of precision with a back beat narrow and hard to master" is most likely a reference to Morrison's first real experience with the music scene. From 1958 to 1960 Morrison lived in Alexandria, Virginia and frequented the Juke Joints (blues clubs) on Route 1 just north of Fort Belvoir where Black Blues musicians would play on Friday and Saturday nights. That area where the Juke Joints used to be is right on the eastern edge of a swamp.

Now, let's continue with last week's statistics. There was yet another increase of the weekly number of visits, even if it was more modest than last week, at 13%. Still, the arrow is pointing in the right direction, summer holidays notwithstanding. Most of the "all-time top tenners", were dropping, with the United States leading the free fall. Imagine, a few months ago its overall percentage was around 54%, if I recall correctly, now it has dropped to under 44%. The two countries that experienced a major increase (again) were the United Kingdom and Italy - with other countries not figuring in the all-time top 10, like Australia, Canada and Brazil, also contributing to the rise. This makes the United Kingdom and Italy upwardly mobile - the former is at the top of the weekly chart and only a dozen visits away from France and position #3 in the all-time top 10. If the trend continues, the UK will have replaced France at #3 by this time tomorrow. Italy doesn't have to wait that long: It had already replaced Cyprus at #7 in the all-time top 10 by midweek. Here are this week's Top 10 countries:

1. the United Kingdom
2. the United States
3. France
4. Greece
5. Italy
6. Australia
7. Cyprus
8. Germany
9. Canada
10. Brazil

Here are the other countries that graced us with their presence since our last statistics (alphabetically): Argentina, Armenia, Austria, Bangladesh, Belgium, Cambodia, Chile, China, Colombia, Croatia, Czechia, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Finland, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Japan, Kenya, Lebanon, Malaysia, Mexico, Morocco, the Netherlands, Norway, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uruguay, Vietnam, and Zimbabwe. Happy to have you all!

And here's the all-time Top 10:

1. the United States = 43.8%
2. Greece = 8.3%
3. France = 7.5%
4. the United Kingdom = 7.5%
5. Russia = 4.9%
6. Germany = 4.2%
7. Italy = 1.12%
8. Cyprus = 1.11%
9. the United Arab Emirates = 0.71%
10. Belgium = 0.69%

That's all for today, folks. Till the next one!

Saturday, 29 July 2017

The Oscar-winning Songs Countdown: 2009

Today we'll be presenting the song at #66 in our Oscar-winning Songs Countdown, which takes us to the year 2009. It was the year that David defeated Goliath - and more importantly the year that an 81-year-old Oscar tradition was finally broken. Unfortunately, it was a one-time thing, at least until now.

The first Christopher Isherwood novel I ever read was one of his last, A Single Man. I fell in love with it - and went to read most of his work, including one of the best autobiographies ever, Christopher And His Kind. Apparently, famous gay fashion designer Tom Ford also fell in love with it. He bought the film rights to the novel, financed the production himself and decided that this iconic gay novel would also be his directorial debut.

... He had the good sense to do things the right way. He surrounded himself with able arts and crafts professionals, as well as a spectacular cast: Colin Firth was amazing as the central character, George, and he was supported by the good British young actors Nicholas Hoult and Matthew Goode, as well as by the formidable American actress Julianne Moore.

The film received great reviews; some, like the one in Time magazine, praised Ford: "Tom Ford - the Texas-born fashion designer who for a decade was the creative director at Gucci - financed this first feature himself. The producer couldn't have hired a smarter director", while all praised Firth: "The film belongs to Firth. Uncanny at showing the heart crumbling under George's elegant exterior, he gives the performance of his career." (Rolling Stone)

There was another openly gay director in the spotlight that year: Lee Daniels had only directed one film in the past, Shadowboxer (2005), but before that he produced important films dealing with "sensitive" social issues, such as Monster's Ball and The Woodsman. Therefore when he decided to produce and direct Precious, Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire, about an overweight, abused, illiterate teen who is pregnant with her second child, it seemed like a natural progression. The film was a sensation at the Sundance Film Festival. Most reviews were glowing: Entertainment Weekly enthused, "It's a potent and moving experience because by the end you feel you've witnessed nothing less than the birth of a soul." The cast was equally praised: The Hollywood Reporter singled out the protagonist, "As Precious, Sidibe is superb, allowing us to see the inner warmth and beauty of a young woman who, to her world's cruel eyes, might seem monstrous." The New York Daily News had a few good words about the rest of the cast: "The film's real strength is its cast, from an Oscar-bound Mo'Nique to a notably deglammed Mariah Carey." The movie, despite its depressing subject, turned out to be a commercial hit as well.

There was nothing more commercial than Avatar, however. James Cameron took his time in directing his follow-up to the record-setting Titanic; 12 whole years. He did direct a couple of documentaries and a few things made-for-TV, but the proper follow-up to Titanic was Avatar. Cameron originally planned to have the film completed for release in 1999. At the time, the special effects he wanted increased the budget to $400 million. No studio would fund the film, and it was shelved for eight years. Then the movie took four years to make, from pre-production to release, so there you have it.

Many actors, like Matt Damon and Jake Gyllenhaal, were considered for the main role; Chris Pine and Chris Pratt also auditioned for it. In the end, Cameron chose relatively unknown Englishman Sam Worthington, who at the time of auditioning was living in his car.

The movie, which singlehandedly established 3D projection, was the first movie to ever cross the U.S. $2-billion mark worldwide (and later the U.S. $2.5-billion mark), making it the highest-grossing film in history (not adjusting for inflation). Taking about grosses, here are the highest grossing films of 2009:

You may notice that Avatar made 3 times as much money as the movie in second place, the sixth Harry Potter installment. Still, the latter grossed close to $1 billion worldwide, so there were no complaints.

The year's third grosser was the animated sequel to Ice Age, another sequel was at #4, the terrible Transformers, a disaster movie was at #5, 2012, the Twilight sequel was at #7, while Guy Ritchie take on Sherlock Holmes, starring Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law and Rachel McAdams was at #8. The follow-up of sorts to The Da Vinci Code, Angels & Demons, was at #9, while the very successful adult comedy, The Hangover was at #10... Wait a minute... Did I forget #6?

The sixth highest grosser of the year was a Pixar animated film called Up. Not only it made shitloads of money, but it also completely won the critics over. Let's take The Hollywood Reporter, for instance: "Winsome, touching and arguably the funniest Pixar effort ever, the gorgeously rendered, high-flying adventure is a tidy 90-minute distillation of all the signature touches that came before it."

Jason Reitman, Ivan Reitman's (Ghostbusters) son, had already made a name for himself with Thank You For Smoking and especially with Juno, so his following film, Up In The Air, was met with anticipation, especially since it starred George Clooney, then at the top of his game, assisted by two up-and-coming actresses, Vera Farmiga and Anna Kendrick. The critics were impressed: Entertainment Weekly wrote: "Up in the Air is light and dark, hilarious and tragic, romantic and real. It's everything that Hollywood has forgotten how to do; we're blessed that Jason Reitman has remembered.)

Up In The Air had a modest budget, one tenth of that of Avatar. Crazy Heart had a fourth of Up In The Air's budget, in effect, it was a small indie. It starred old-timer Jeff Bridges as a faded country music musician, supported by Colin Farrell and Maggie Gyllenhaal. The New York Times described it perfectly: "A small movie perfectly scaled to the big performance at its center."

The Messenger was another small movie, with a budget more or less the same as Crazy Heart. Ben Foster starred as a military man whom the army assigns to the Casualty Notification Team in his area. Woody Harrelson was impressive as the career soldier who is partnered with him, who teaches him the precise protocol involved in the job. The New Yorker declared, "This is a fully felt, morally alert, marvelously acted piece of work. Despite the grim subject, it's a sweet-tempered movie, with moments of explosive humor - an entertainment."

The directors of the above two films, Scott Cooper and Oren Moverman, were relative newcomers. But a lot of established directors were turning out noteworthy films too. The follow-up to the Coen brothers' Oscar triumph No Country For Old Men was eagerly anticipated, to say the least. They could have picked any star to lead their new one, A Serious Man, nobody refused the Coens. Instead, they picked Michael Stuhlbarg, an actor who until then was mainly known for his roles on Broadway and on TV. In fact, there were no stars at all in A Serious Man, the story of a Midwestern physics teacher, who watches his life unravel over multiple sudden incidents.

That didn't stop the critics gushing over the film. New York Magazine wrote: "A Serious Man is not only hauntingly original, it’s the final piece of the puzzle that is the Coens. Combine suburban alienation, philosophical inquiry, moral seriousness, a mixture of respect for and utter indifference to Torah, and, finally, a ton of dope, and you get one of the most remarkable oeuvres in modern film."

Quentin Tarantino opened Inglourious Basterds at that year's Cannes Film Festival, where it was received enthusiastically, eventually winning the Best Actor award for Austrian thespian Christoph Waltz. This tongue-in-cheek war film was inspired by the cheap war films produced in Europe in the 60s and 70s - and especially The Inglorious Bastards (1978) by Enzo Castellari. It starred Brad Pitt and a number of other good actors and turned out to be Tarantino's highest-grossing film since Pulp Fiction.

Tarantino's delightfully revisionist romp, which had our heroes killing Hitler and Goebbels, also delighted most critics: Village Voice had this to say: "Energetic, inventive, swaggering fun, Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds is a consummate Hollywood entertainment - rich in fantasy and blithely amoral."

Clint Eastwood aimed higher; the subject of his 2009 film, Invictus, was none other than Nelson Mandella. Wisely, Clint focuses on a single incident, which however was indicative of the man's political stature: in his first term as the South African President, he initiated a unique venture to unite the apartheid-torn land: he enlisted the national rugby team on a mission to win the 1995 Rugby World Cup.

Morgan Freeman was ideal as Mandella and Matt Damon was at his best as the captain of the national rugby team. Time wrote: "Damon, beefed up for the occasion, makes Pienaar a stalwart yet courtly figure. Freeman infuses Mandela's speeches with the same gentleness and gravity he's brought to his numerous God roles and the Visa Olympics commercials. But the real deity here is Eastwood, still chugging away handsomely in his 80th year."

The Last Station was involved with another very well-known person: it was a historical drama that illustrated Russian author Leo Tolstoy's struggle to balance fame and wealth with his commitment to a life devoid of material things. Veteran Christopher Plummer was Tolstoy, Helen Mirren was his wife, Sofya, and James McAvoy was his loyal disciple. The Hollywood Reporter remarked: "Three superb performances by Helen Mirren, Christopher Plummer, and James McAvoy should have Oscar handicappers drooling."

Not all real-life persons that were the subject of films that year were as illustrious as Mandella or Tolstoy; enter Julia Child and Julie Powell, the women portrayed in Julie & Julia. Played by remarkable thespians Meryl Streep and Amy Adams and ably supported by Stanley Tucci and Chris Messina, this Nora Ephron-directed story of two women living in different times but managing to connect through cooking, turned out to be a big hit and Streep was the film's biggest draw: St. Louis Post-Dispatch wrote, "Streep is astonishing, conveying Child's gusto, her quavering voice, even her height."

The Blind Side was also based on a true story - and at the center of it was also a strong woman. It's based on the story of Leigh Anne Tuohy and Sean Tuohy who take in a homeless teenage African-American, Michael Oher, who, under Leigh Anne's steadfast support, goes on to become an All American football player and first round NFL draft pick. The star here was Sandra Bullock, who dominated the film. Austin Chronicle wrote that "The forcefulness of Bullock's presence goes a long way in pulling the film back from the brink of cuddliness." The film grossed more than eight times its budget.

It was James Cameron who convinced his ex-wife Kathryn Bigelow to direct The Hurt Locker. The expression "the hurt locker" is a pre-existing slang term for a situation involving trouble or pain, which can be traced back to the Vietnam War. According to the movie's website, it is soldier vernacular in Iraq to speak of explosions as sending you to "the hurt locker."

The film, taking place in Iraq, was an intense portrayal of elite soldiers who have one of the most dangerous jobs in the world: disarming bombs in the heat of combat. Jeremy Renner, little-known at the time, had the lead part. The film didn't make any money, although the critics were ecstatic: The New Yorker said, "A small classic of tension, bravery, and fear, which will be studied twenty years from now when people want to understand something of what happened to American soldiers in Iraq. If there are moviegoers who are exhausted by the current fashion for relentless fantasy violence, this is the convincingly blunt and forceful movie for them.", while Rolling Stone added, "Here's the Iraq War movie for those who don't like Iraq War movies."

There were interesting films being made in other places besides America: An Education was based on Lynn Barber's memoir, adapted by Nick Hornby, both British. It was directed by Lone Scherfig, a Danish woman, and starred a British young rising actress, Carey Mulligan. The film, a coming-of-age story about a teenage girl in 1960s suburban London, captured the critics' attention. The A.V. Club wrote, "An Education shares with Hornby’s best work trenchant insight into the way smart, hyper-verbal young people let the music, films, books, and art they love define themselves as they figure out who they are and what they want to be. Variety sang the praises of the film's leading actress: "Carey Mulligan shines in a captivating performance."

There was a surprise from South Africa: an intelligent and engaging sci-fi thriller, which also served as a political and social parable, Neill Blomkamp's District 9 caught the public's imagination; its gross was 7 times its modest budget. The critics were also enthusiastic. Entertainment Weekly wrote: "Madly original, cheekily political, altogether exciting District 9."

The big winner in that year's Cannes Film Festival, as well as a critical darling all over the world was The White Ribbon (Das Weiße Band), by German auteur Michael Haneke. The film recounts strange events that happen in a small village in the north of Germany during the years before World War I. Could the film be indirectly talking about the roots of Nazism? Many seem to think so.

The critics, naturally, responded to it. Rolling Stone was impressed: "This haunting film never pushes itself on you. It trusts you to suss out the horror that lies beneath the veneer of innocence. You'll be knocked for a loop.", although Empire admitted, that it's "A hard film to love, but a hypnotic meditation on all the elements - gossip, religion, bullying - that can turn a parish and country bad."

A Prophet (Un Prophète) came from France. Jacques Audiard's film won the second prize at Cannes Film Festival and was also the big winner at the César Awards, France's equivalent to the Oscars. The film, about a young Arab man who is sent to a French prison, only to rise through the ranks of thugdom, was amazingly good. Entertainment Weekly agreed: "There's also no romanticizing on the part of the director, who proceeds with calm, unshowy attentiveness (even in the midst of scenes of violence), creating a stunning portrait of an innately smart survivor for whom prison turns out to be a twisted opportunity for self-definition."

The Secret In Their Eyes (El Secreto De Sus Ojos) came from Argentina. It was directed by Juan José Campanella, whose film Son Of The Bride (El Hijo De La Novia) was nominated for the Foreign Language Oscar 8 years earlier. Both films had the same star, charismatic Ricardo Darín. The Secret In Their Eyes had the advantage of a very original and engaging screenplay, which combined police mystery, politics, and existential angst. Variety was definitely on board: "A deeply rewarding throwback to the unself-conscious days when cinema still strove to be magical, The Secrets in their Eyes is simply mesmerizing."

There were also a couple of "noble failures" that year: Lovely Bones was Peter Jackson's attempt to tread more serious waters since his super-successful Lord Of The Rings trilogy and King Kong. Despite working with great actors (Saoirse Ronan and Stanley Tucci were especially impressive), he didn't quite make it. Variety wrote: "Jackson undermines solid work from a good cast with show-offy celestial evocations that severely disrupt the emotional connections with the characters."

Another such film was Nine. Rob Marshall followed up Chicago with the technically efficient but rather hollow Memoirs Of A Geisha and then with Nine he tried to turn Fellini's masterpiece 8½ into a musical. Despite using stars of the caliber of Daniel Day-Lewis, Nicole Kidman, Marion Cotillard, Penélope Cruz, Judi Dench and Sophia Loren(!), and despite having impressive work on costume, scenery, and music, neither the public nor the critics were impressed. The film lost money and received mostly bad reviews. The A.V. Club wrote, "A joyless trudge, particularly when compared to Fellini’s vibrant original."

The Nominations

This was the year that the nominees for Best Picture doubled; from 5 to 10.

Best Motion Picture of the Year

A Serious Man, An Education, Avatar, District 9, Inglourious Basterds, Precious, The Blind Side, The Hurt Locker, Up, Up In The Air.

Best Achievement in Directing

Avatar, Inglourious Basterds, Precious, The Hurt Locker, Up In The Air.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role

Colin Firth (A Single Man), Jeff Bridges (Crazy Heart), Morgan Freeman (Invictus), Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker), George Clooney (Up In The Air).

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role

Carey Mulligan (An Education), Meryl Streep (Julie & Julia), Gabourey Sidibe (Precious), Sandra Bullock (The Blind Side), Helen Mirren (The Last Station).

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role

Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds), Matt Damon (Invictus), Christopher Plummer (The Last Station), Stanley Tucci (The Lovely Bones), Woody Harrelson (The Messenger).

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role

Maggie Gyllenhaal (Crazy Heart), Penélope Cruz (Nine), Mo'Nique (Precious), Vera Farmiga (Up In The Air), Anna Kendrick (Up In The Air).

Best Writing, Original Screenplay

A Serious Man, Inglourious Basterds, The Hurt Locker, The Messenger, Up.

Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay

An Education, District 9, In The Loop, Precious, Up In The Air.

Best Achievement in Art Direction

Avatar, Nine, Sherlock Holmes, The Imaginarium Of Doctor Parnassus, The Young Victoria.

Best Achievement in Costume Design

Bright Star, Coco Before Canel/Coco Avant Canel, Nine, The Imaginarium Of Doctor Parnassus, The Young Victoria.

Best Achievement in Cinematography

Avatar, Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince, Inglourious Basterds, The Hurt Locker, The White Ribbon/Das Weiße Band.

Best Achievement in Film Editing

Avatar, District 9, Inglourious Basterds, Precious, The Hurt Locker.

Best Achievement in Sound Mixing

Avatar, Inglourious Basterds, Star Trek, The Hurt Locker, Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen.

Best Achievement in Sound Editing

Avatar, Inglourious Basterds, Star Trek, The Hurt Locker, Up.

Best Achievement in Visual Effects

Avatar, District 9, Star Trek.

Best Achievement in Makeup

Il Divo, Star Trek, The Young Victoria.

Best Foreign Language Film of the Year

Ajami (Israel), A Prophet/Un Prophète (France), The Milk Of Sorrow/La Teta Asustada (Peru), The Secret In Their Eyes/El Secreto De Sus Ojos (Argentina), The White Ribbon/Das Weiße Band (Germany).

Best Animated Feature Film of the Year

Coraline, Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Princess and the Frog, The Secret of Kells, Up.

Best Documentary, Features

Burma VJ: Reporting from a Closed Country, Food, Inc., The Cove, The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers, Which Way Home.

I left the music awards, as usual, in the end.

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score

Avatar: James Horner

Fantastic Mr. Fox: Alexandre Desplat

Sherlock Holmes: Hans Zimmer

The Hurt Locker: Marco Beltrami, Buck Sanders

Up: Michael Giacchino

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Song

The Weary Kind from Crazy Heart • Music & Lyrics: Ryan Bingham, T Bone Burnett. Sung by Ryan Bingham:

Take It All from Nine • Music & Lyrics: Maury Yeston. Sung by Marion Cotillard:

Loin de Paname from Paris 36 (Faubourg 36) • Music: Reinhardt Wagner • Lyrics: Frank Thomas. Sung by Nora Arnezeder:

Almost There from The Princess and the Frog • Music & Lyrics: Randy Newman. Sung by Anika Noni Rose:

Down in New Orleans from The Princess and the Frog • Music & Lyrics: Randy Newman. Sung by Anika Noni Rose and Randy Newman:

I'm not really crazy about any of them; they're not bad, but not particularly memorable either. If I were to choose, I would probably go with Loin de Paname.

Here are some songs that could have, but didn't make it to the final five:

I See You from Avatar • Music: James Horner and Simon Franglen • Lyrics: Simon Franglen, Kuk Harrell, and James Horner. Sung by Leona Lewis:

Winter from Brothers • Music & Lyrics: U2. Sung by U2:

Other Father Song from Coraline • Music & Lyrics: They Might Be Giants. Sung by They Might Be Giants:

9000 Days from Invictus • Music: Clint Eastwood and Michael Stevens • Lyrics: Dina Eastwood and Emile Welman. Sung by Overtone with Yollandi Nortjie:

I Want To Come Home from Everybody's Fine • Music & Lyrics: Paul McCartney. Sung by Paul McCartney:

The final tally was:

Avatar: 9 nominations
The Hurt Locker: 9 nominations
Inglourious Basterds: 8 nominations
Up In The Air: 6 nominations
Precious: 6 nominations
Up: 5 nominations
District 9: 4 nominations
Star Trek: 4 nominations
Nine: 4 nominations
An Education: 3 nominations
Crazy Heart: 3 nominations
The Young Victoria: 3 nominations
The Princess and the Frog: 3 nominations

All the rest had one or two nominations each.

The Winners

It was enough of a surprise that a cheap movie that was hardly seen by anyone had the same number of nominations with a movie with a huge budget which everybody had seen. Would it win anything? James Cameron said of his ex-wife and her movie: "I wouldn't bet against her."

He knew what he was talking about: David defeated Goliath. The Hurt Locker had six wins, among them Best Picture. It was the Best Director win that was record-breaking, however. Kathryn Bigelow was the first (and so far only) woman to ever win the Best Director Oscar. It took us 80 years to get there, but finally, we did! The Hurt Locker's other Oscars were for Original Screenplay, Film Editing, Sound Mixing and Sound Editing.

Avatar walked away with just three Oscars: Cinematography, Art Direction, and Visual Effects.

Inglourious Basterds got the Supporting Actor award for Christoph Waltz; it was a sure thing.

Precious had two important wins: Mo'Nique won for Supporting Actress, while Geoffrey Fletcher was the first black man to get a writing award (Adapted Screenplay).

Crazy Heart also had two wins over three nominations: Jeff Bridges walked away with the Best Actor award, while Ryan Bingham and T Bone Burnett were awarded for Best Song.

Also two wins for Up: Best Score for Michael Giacchino and Best Animated Feature.

Sandra Bullock prevailed over her fellow nominees and was awarded the Best Actress trophy for The Blind Side. Other films with one win included Argentina's The Secret In Their Eyes/El Secreto De Sus Ojos (Foreign), The Cove, directed by an Iowan of Greek origin, Louie Psihoyos (Documentary Feature), The Young Victoria (Costume Design) and Star Trek (Makeup).

All in all, a rather good year for films, but not so great for film songs. You can't win them all...