Lisssssst by Gwendolyn Elliott
As Oscar season approaches, we thought it'd be prudent to offer a Oscar-worthy list of our own. Not our predictions or>"/>
Lisssssst by Gwendolyn Elliott
As Oscar season approaches, we thought it'd be prudent to offer a Oscar-worthy list of our own. Not our predictions or wish-lists for the Academy Awards--and definitely not limited to 2010--but a list of the top 10 scenes, snippets, movies, and videos of music-related media that made a dent in pop culture--or at least a small ripple here or there. Our only modest guideline was that the "winners" successfully and entertainingly bridged the gap between music and film (OK, and some TV) genres.
And the Academy Award goes to . . .
Best Interpretation of a Famous Song by a Famous Actor: William Shatner singing "Rocket Man" at the 1978 Science Fiction Film Awards (above).
Why it made the list: Words cannot express what "The Shat" is doing here.
Best Generation-Spanning Duet: David Bowie and Bing Crosby, "The Little Drummer Boy."
When David Bowie and Bing Crosby teamed up to record a few songs for Bing's Christmas special in September 1977--a month before he died--Bing Crosby had never heard of the modern singer. But that was all to change, and by the end of the taping Bing was praising Bowie's singing and said, "He could be a good actor if he wanted."
Why it made the list: The combination of old school/new school is slightly uncomfortable to watch--Bing is a wobbly old man at this point, Bowie in the prime of his glam-rock career--but fascinating all the same. And of course, it foreshadowed Bowie's soon-to-be new role as actor, in movies such as Labyrinth and The Last Temptation of Christ.
Best Guest Performance on Sesame Street: Johnny Cash singing "Nasty Dan" and "Five Feet High and Rising."
Here the grizzled country singer presents a charming song off his children's album and a much darker one from his repertoire.
Why it made the list: Sesame Street has always paved the way in children's television programming, but few performers have been bold enough to warn children of the dangers of flooding--from their own experience--and encourage them to learn how to swim because of it.
Best Instructional Rap Song: There are so many instructional rap songs and videos, but a rare few are grunted out by Mr. T, even fewer on the virtues of motherhood.
Why it made the list: Actor (Mr. T) + song ("Treat Your Mother Right") = Oscar-list gold!
Best Soundtrack by a Musician: Purple Rain, by Prince.
All sorts of rockers are scoring music for movies these days. Devo's Mark Mothersbaugh has cornered the market on Wes Anderson films, and both Neil Young (Jim Jarmusch's Dead Man) and Nick Cave (notably for his work on The Proposition and The Road) have produced lasting contributions to the ilk. But let's cut the crap: no one's gonna top Purple Rain.
Why it made the list: Purple Rain sent three singles to the charts, bagged two Grammys and the Oscar for Best Original Song in 1985, and established Prince as a major cult phenomenon that still resounds today. (Just earlier this week in NYC the blogosphere was burning up over his secret appearances on- and offstage at Madison Square Garden.)
Best Rock Mockumentary: This Is Spinal Tap, dir. Rob Reiner.
This classic is often credited as the start of the "mockumentary" genre, and clearly moved Christopher Guest (who plays lead guitarist Nigel Tufnel) to explore it further in his films Waiting for Guffman, A Mighty Wind, and others.
Why it made the list: While Les Claypool's recent Quest for Festeroo is a contender for its earnestness, Spinal Tap has staying power for its deadpan performances, satirical ad-libbed scenes, and hilariously quotable songs, i.e., "Big Bottoms:" "My baby fits me like a flesh tuxedo/I'd like to sink her with my pink torpedo."
Best Fan-on-Artist Interview Interpreted Through Animation: I Met the Walrus, dir. Josh Raskin.
This short yet absorbing animated film stars a 14-year-old John Lennon fan named Jerry Levitan, who somehow managed to get into Lennon's hotel room, and convince him to do a short interview, which he taped on a reel-to-reel, while the artist was staying in Toronto in 1969.
Why it made the list: The archival audio, together with James Braithwaite and Alex Kurina's mind-bending animation, is a touching tribute and a captivating look at a Beatle not seen since Yellow Submarine. (Oh, and it was nominated, but lost, for an Oscar in 2008.)
Best Movie Look at Bob Dylan: Masked and Anonymous, dir. Larry Charles.
Notwithstanding Scorsese's No Direction Home and Todd Haynes' I'm Not There, Masked and Anonymous is the only movie to feature Bob Dylan both on the soundtrack (its 14 tracks are either sung or written by the man himself) and as lead actor.
Why it made the list: Though the plot is utterly confusing and Dylan's acting talents are few, the star-studded cast (Jeff Bridges, John Goodman, Jessica Lange, Penelope Cruz, and Luke Wilson, to name a few), offset by a carnival of costumes and delightful musical interludes, deserves its place in obfuscating music--and celluloid--history.
Best Rock Documentary: Anvil! The Story of Anvil, dir. Sasha Gervasi.
This documentary straddles the line between fact and fiction so acutely that it was only halfway through the film that it occurred to me that it was actually a true story. "Metal on Metal" is a dead ringer for "Big Bottoms," and their drummer is named (no joke) Robb Reiner.
Why it made the list: The hardest-working, most deserving metal band you'll ever hear about, these dudes are still rocking hard in their 50s, trying to reclaim a glimpse of the recognition they once had in the early 80s--when bands like Metallica and Anthrax named them as influences. But they have heart, stamina, and big hair--and damn it, their songs are actually good.
Best Bad-Dad Showdown Video: Three-way tie: Twisted Sister's "We're Not Gonna Take It," Michael Jackson's "Black or White," and Tenacious D's "Kickapoo."
Why they made the list: All three videos involve aggressive overparenting of young boys who simply "want to rock" with a boatload of actors who play the parts. You've got Mark Metcalf (Animal House) and Jeremy Sisto (Six Feet Under) in Twisted Sister's version; George Wendt (aka Cheers' Norm) and Macaulay Caulkin in "Black or White"; and Meatloaf and Troy Gentile (well-cast as a young Jack Black) in "Kickapoo." With Ronnie James Dio (RIP) appearing for a pep talk with young JB, you've got actors playing rockers, rockers playing actors, and rockers playing themselves, making these clips veritable love letters to adolescent rebellion.