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Our picks for Oscar's best original song category (and yes, Lady Gaga's 'Shallow' is included)

Mikael Wood, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Entertainment News

If the awards-season waters were muddied by many of the un-expected winners -- and losers -- at Sunday's Golden Globes, the result in the original song category seemed to make at least one thing crystal clear: There is approximately zero chance that Lady Gaga's "Shallow" won't take the same prize when the Academy Awards are handed out Feb. 24.

Should the power ballad from Bradley Cooper's "A Star Is Born" remake win the song it would follow "Evergreen" -- Barbra Streisand's gentle acoustic theme from her 1976 version of "Star" -- into the film academy's record books; not only that, but like "Evergreen," "Shallow" is also up for record and song of the year at next month's Grammys. (Streisand's tune took the song trophy but lost record to the Eagles' "Hotel California.")

Yet as certain as "Shallow's" victory appears, the song isn't running uncontested. Last month, the academy revealed a short list of 15 selections under consideration for the original song award (out of an initial 90 deemed eligible), and this week, Oscar voters are casting ballots to narrow that group to the final slate of nominees set to be announced on Jan. 22.

Here, then, are some thoughts (and some unsolicited advice) on which tunes should make the cut -- even if none of them stands a chance against Gaga.

Before we get to that, let me take a second to note my surprise that the short list contained only a single song from "A Star Is Born."

Given the movie's input from a slew of well-connected songwriters and producers, not to mention its Oscar-bait show-business setting, I'd have thought the academy's music branch might've gone for "Shallow" as well as "I'll Never Love Again," the tear-jerking finale that recalls Whitney Houston's celebrated music from "The Bodyguard."

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But maybe "Shallow's" biggest fans feared splitting the eventual vote, as arguably happened in 2007, when three tunes from "Dreamgirls" were nominated and all lost, and the next year, when three from "Enchanted" met the same fate.

Then again, the short list does feature a pair of tunes from "Mary Poppins Returns," which probably represents "A Star Is Born's" most realistic competition.

Oscar voters have a long-established devotion to songs from Disney musicals: Last year's winner was "Remember Me," from "Coco," and before that there were ditties from "Frozen," "Toy Story 3," "Tarzan," "The Lion King," "Beauty and the Beast," and the list goes on (and on). And with "Mary Poppins Returns," of course, they're being reminded of Disney's beloved original, which spawned an Oscar winner in 1964 with the Sherman brothers' classic "Chim Chim Cher-ee."

That said, I'm not sure "Trip a Little Light Fantastic" -- sung in the movie by Lin-Manuel Miranda in a broad Cockney accent he clearly learned from Dick Van Dyke -- lives up to the comparison it inevitably invites.

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