The Oscars 2012: Of Men and Muppets

Well, the verdict is in. Everyone, the Academy included, seems to love The Artist. But during the 2012 Oscars on Sunday, room was also made for winners of a more felt-covered persuasion.

No, I’m not talking about actor Sacha Baron Cohen and his carpet-crashing turn as Admiral General Aladeen of the fictional country of Wadiya. Though the ash-dumping stunt Cohen pulled on red carpet host Ryan Seacrest was probably the highlight of the evening (at least for me), I’m referring instead to the winners of the Oscar for Best Original Song: the Muppets.

Yes, you read that correctly. The Muppets won an Oscar.

While the official name on the award belongs to musician and comedian Bret McKenzie of Flight of the Conchords fame, the driving force behind the Academy’s decision was the star’s work on the 2011 movie The Muppets, notably the song “Man Or Muppet” performed by actor Jason Segel and his muppet brother Walter (voiced by Peter Lintz).

Watch the official video for “Man Or Muppet,” the 2012 Oscar winner for Best Original song here:

Unfortunately, puppet victory aside, the voting for Best Original Song was not without its drawbacks. Unlike years past, which typically saw up to five nominees vying for the coveted prize, this year’s Academy Awards saw only two nominees culled from two family-friendly pictures – The Muppets (live-action) and Rio (animated). The Golden Globe winner for Best Original Song, Madonna, wasn’t even in the running. And neither was fellow Golden Globe nominee Elton John.

However, at an industry-driven event that too often focuses on clichés and Academy-familiarity to pick its winners (hello Meryl Streep and her 17 nominations), it was still a nice touch to see the little guys (seriously Kermit is only about 19 inches tall) win one for a change.

And hey, who knows, maybe if ALF ever makes his way to the silver screen a song from his picture could make it Oscar win number two for the puppet community.

Only in Hollywood…

For more information on the film The Muppets please visit http://disney.go.com/muppets/.

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Music in the Movies: To Razz or Not to Razz

RazziesThe nominees for the 83rd annual Academy Awards were announced Tuesday with popular stars like Natalie Portman, Christian Bale, and James Franco all receiving recognition for their work on the big screen. While much of the focus of Hollywood’s biggest night typically falls on such high-profile actors and actresses, room is also made for the contributions that musicians make to the movies.

This year’s nominees for Best Original Song include perennial contenders like Randy Newman and Alan Menken, as well as newcomers like Dido and country music songwriter Tom Douglas. Also, in the short list for Best Original Score, industrial rock icon Trent Reznor leads the pack for his work on the Facebook-inspired drama “The Social Network.”

However, residing on the flip side of all this hoopla are the Razzies (aka the Golden Rasberries). Now entering their 31st running, these so-called awards are given to lucky winners in recognition of the year’s worst contributions to film, and are handed out at a “deliberately low-end and tacky” show the night before the Oscars.

Strangely, while featuring most of the same categories as the Academy Awards, and even a few of their own invention (“Worst Reckless Disregard for Human Life and Public Property,” “Worst Excuse for an Actual Movie (All Concept/No Content!),” “Worst Eye-Gouging Mis-Use of 3-D,” etc.), for the past nine years the Razzie’s have not featured an award for worst music or song.

Why is this? Oddly, no one seems to know. According to a recent article on MTV.com, such awards were given out at the Razzies from 1980-1999 but no longer. Apart from a one-off appearance in 2002 (take that Britney Spears!), the categories seem to have been simply discontinued, which begs the question, why?

It is not like there is a shortage of bad movie music out there. Does anyone remember 2007, when songs from Disney’s live-action fairy tale “Enchanted” scored three of the five nominations for Best Original Song? Or how about 2008 when Bruce Springsteen was snubbed for his ballad “The Wrestler”? Sure, the winner that year was “Jai Ho” from eventual Best Picture winner “Slumdog Millionaire,” but The Boss couldn’t even get a nomination? Somewhere in New Jersey grown men are crying.

See the video for Bruce Springsteen’s “The Wrestler” here:

As many longtime viewers of the Academy Awards and Grammys can attest, voting boards rarely get it right when choosing entertainment-based winners. That is why more than ever an institution like the Razzies is needed to weigh in on what/ who shouldn’t win, especially when the choice comes to music. I mean, who else is there for such a job? MTV?

Interestingly, the same year he was snubbed at the Oscars, Springsteen was actually nominated at MTV’s movie awards for his song mentioned above. However, in perhaps a crueler twist of fate than that inflicted upon him by the Academy, he lost…to Miley Cyrus. Yep, you read that right. If you need me, I’ll be at the Stone Pony drowning my sorrows.

Don’t miss the Oscars live on ABC, Feb. 27 at 8 p.m., and see who took home a Razzie the night before by checking out www.razzies.com.